It’s Time For Sun, Sea And… Smart Meters

So the government has finally decided to put some meat on the bones of its smart meter plans.

The long awaited Smart Metering Implementation Programme Prospectus was released this week in the last proper splurge of business before the dog days of summer. Not much of a fanfare then for what the government admits will be one of the biggest public sector tech projects of recent times.

But then any news is good news right now with the silly season looming – another week and the tech press will be awash with the usual summer space fillers of “How to stay connected to the office while on vacation” or “Top tech books to take to the beach”. While it might be exciting to engage the conspiracy synapses and imagine government spin-doctors trying to bury some Machiavellian smart meter sub-plot – the truth is probably just that this much material takes time to accumulate.

And what a pile there is. Never mind summer reading, anyone interested in how the government intends to pull-off this feat will be eschewing Stephen King and Dean Koontz in favour of Chris Huhn. The smart meter prospectus might not be exactly beach reading material but some aspects of it seem every bit as fanciful as a bestseller.

A Fantasy Bestseller?

The most obvious example of this is the new timetable the government has set. The EU electricity and gas directives behind the UK’s smart meter push mandate 2020 as the date for the deployment. That might still be nearly ten years away but even that seemed ambitious given the small fact that the country is broke and most other large-scale public sector tech projects have been mothballed or scrapped as the coalition furiously bails out our collective life-boat. The rash of tech quangos that have been nuked in the last few weeks, together with high-profile cuts such as ID Cards and Microsoft losing its lucrative NHS deal, show exactly how much cash and good will there is available for tech projects in Whitehall right now.

Despite some pre-election stories about cosying up to Google, the coalition government has not exactly endeared itself to the tech industry so far. Even the hip games industry’s attempts to get a tax break were shot to pieces, Call-Of-Duty-style, by George Osbourne.

For more go to eWEEK Europe UK

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