Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Editors' Highlights

Smart Water Metering Need Not Compromise People’s Privacy

Scientists have devised a way of preserving privacy for smart water metering users while also providing water suppliers with information they can use to improve the efficiency of water services.

Source: Water Resources Research


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In the past decade, utility service providers (e.g., electricity, gas, and water) all around the world have been progressively installing large numbers of advanced meters, which continuously collect and transmit information on the usage of services. In the water sector, this information can enable more accurate billing and demand forecasting, as well as providing detailed feedback to consumers about their water use, potentially promoting water conservation. It also assists utilities with leak detection.

However, this detailed information collection raises concerns regarding the invasion of privacy because it may expose private activities and daily routines of householders. In other domains, users can deploy privacy protection technologies to guard against possible privacy breaches (e.g., privacy add-ons for web-browsers), but currently there is no available privacy protection technology for water meters.

Salomons et al. [2020] propose a new “privacy-friendly” technology for households, which couples a flow regulating valve and a water tank to disguise consumer’s personal behavior patterns. By diffusing the concerns about invasion of privacy, this relatively straightforward technological innovation should help to realize the benefits of smart water metering.

Citation: Salomons, E., Sela, L., & Housh, M. [2020]. Hedging for privacy in smart water meters. Water Resources Research, 56, e2020WR027917. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020WR027917

—Jim Hall, Editor, Water Resources Research

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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