First: stop the "upgrade" treadmill, next appreciate your own policies
Central government departments are already evaluating Windows 7, Office 2010, Sharepoint 2010 and so on.
Will someone please explain why they continue to create ever richer lock-in to a single company's products.
If the Conservatives were to fully appreciate the importance of their own words as applied to smart meters everything else would follow (I've posted about this before the election but I can't remember which article so apologies for the re-post.
"Rebuilding Security" Page 84.
"The surest guarantee of the consumer interest is a fully competitive energy sector in which new and established providers succeed or fail on their ability to provide the best goods and services to their customers. In this respect, we believe that the innovation and interaction that the smart grid will make possible is what will finally transform the energy sector from an industry focused on relationships with policymakers and regulators to one where the customer is king.
A Conservative Government would seek to speed this transition by facilitating new market entry and new sources of investment. This will be achieved in three main ways:
* Open networks - In making decisions on the renewal of transmission and distribution network infrastructure, our priority - as in the case of smart meter roll-out - will be to establish a flexible open platform for ongoing technological and business development.
* Open standards - In establishing common technical and non-technical standards for the industry, our default position will be to play a supporting rather than a directing role. There may, however, be occasions on which direct involvement is necessary. For instance, where governments are involved in agreeing international standards; or if established industry players attempt to use proprietary standards to restrict competition and consumer choice.
* Open markets - Wherever Government influences the shape of markets for smart grid technology and services, they are open the widest range of providers. This means that the measures we enact to rebuild Britain's energy security - such as the capacity guarantee in the electricity market (see chapter 4) or the Green Deal on energy efficiency (see chapter 11) - will be structured to enable smart grid based solutions to compete on equal terms with other options.
Smart grids need smart policy
In chapter 2 we argue that the reform of energy policy must start from the top - by streamlining the machinery of government. The Department of Energy and Climate Change must focus on supporting ministers in their duty to provide a clear strategic direction; the tangled web of agencies through which public investment in clean energy technology is made available will be joined-up into a Green Investment Bank; and the proliferating quangos currently responsible for the execution of energy policy will be rationalised.
This will create an opportunity to equip the machinery of government with the expertise necessary to contribute usefully to the transition from dumb grid to smart grid. This is not because we expect government to make the detailed technical and business decisions that will shape the future of energy in the 21st century, but because we need a government capable of understanding and responding to the needs of the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors who will be making those decisions.
That means learning all the lessons from government's role in the development of other hi-tech infrastructure sectors, above all, our information and communication networks. Whether as a Whitehall department, a facilitator of investment or a policy implementation body, the smart energy enterprises of the 21st century need to have faith in government as a arms-length, objective and, above all, informed source of support.
The energy internet
The technology writer, George Gilder observed that "in every industrial revolution some key factor of production is drastically reduced in cost... relative to the previous cost to achieve that function, the new factor is virtually free."304 In the 21st century, that factor of production is the
processing power and communications bandwidth provided by information technology - where costs per unit are falling at an exponential rate. In this context, the significance of the smart grid is twofold:
* Firstly, it allows us to apply an increasingly abundant resource (IT) to improving the productivity with which we use an increasingly constrained resource (energy).
* Secondly, it represents a breakthrough for our use of IT networks - from the virtual world in which only data was networked to the intelligent networking of physical commodities like energy.
This won't just encompass power grids, but also other utilities such as water and even transportation systems. Bringing intelligence to infrastructure will have game-changing implications - even for those things, which due to their unconnected components, we don't even regard as infrastructure. For instance, the intelligent networking of cars is already underway thanks to the spread of satnav systems, which cut fuel costs by reducing navigational errors and could save their owners even more by incorporating livetraffic information and automatically computing routes to avoid congestion.
Consumers, however, are entitled to ask "where will this all end?" and "who
gets the benefit?" The answer depends on the choice we make as a nation
between two very different models:
* The hyper-bureaucratic model in which IT is used to reinforce top-down power structures, enhancing and extending the control that politicians and their corporate clients have over our lives
* Or the post-bureaucratic model, in which on the basis of intelligently shred information, not top-down control, millions of independent actors freely work together in an endless variety of ways to the benefit of all
With its enthusiasm for ID cards and centralised databases, the current Government has revealed its preference. However, the Conservative vision is very different, one which we will strive to make real in the development of a smart grid that can truly be called an energy internet."