Privacy by Design: Fundamentals for Smart Grid App Developers

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The intended vision of the Smart Grid – to have greater energy efficiency through a more efficient electrical grid – cannot occur without information from energy consumers, such as through smart meter data, which forms the basis of widespread smart metering infrastructure investments. However, smart meters are on par with another essential element for the creation of a Smart Grid – privacy, which ensures consumer participation in the Smart Grid. Consumers must trust that the privacy of their smart meter data and other personal information will be strongly respected. If not, consumers may not participate in energy saving programs, or purchase smart appliances, or download Smart Grid apps, etc. When trust is broken, it is difficult if not impossible to regain it. Studies show that when a customer is offended by a particular experience, any chance of doing future business with them goes down at that moment, even if the consumer completes the transaction.

As an entrepreneur or established business developing a smart grid app, you may be struggling with choices based on how they affect your business in the short-term versus long-term. This is a common dilemma in the business world. However, being an entrepreneur in the Smart Grid is unique. If you build privacy in at the outset, not only will you gain a competitive advantage today, you will grow consumer trust in the Smart Grid itself, to ensure long-term consumer participation. In other words, incorporating Privacy by Design will ensure the foundation of your market base for years to come.

In this paper, we have sought to reach out to smart grid app developers by providing a primer on Privacy by Design, recognized as an international standard since 2010. We hope that the information provided will serve you, even if you are a one-person operation. By employing the principles we discussed in this paper, not only will your customers thank you and repay you with their business, but you will also stand out as an early adopter – leading with privacy in Smart Grid apps – by design.

Author:Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D., Information & Privacy Commissioner, Ontario, Canada
Date Published:August 26, 2013

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