Some of our favorite buzz words keep meeting — smart meters and Twitter. Smart meter startup SmartSynch says it’s partnered with the University of Mississippi to help cut campus energy consumption by publishing the university’s smart meter energy consumption data to Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds. SmartSynch says it’s built an online dashboard to bring together campus smart meters and popular social networks.
SmartSynch has deployed only 16 of its smart meters around the Ole Miss campus. While the social network strategy might not result in a huge overall cut in energy consumption, it could do a lot to educate students, which is a significant step toward bringing energy management tools into the mainstream.
A smart meter online dashboard that tweets energy consumption isn’t the core of what SmartSynch does. The company makes smart meters that run over the wireless networks of cell phone companies. For example, Texas utility Texas-New Mexico Power (TNMP) is working with SmartSynch and AT&T to roll out 10,000 smart meters at Texas homes that will use AT&T’s wireless network.
SmartSynch says the advantage for a utility to use a phone company’s network is that the utility doesn’t have to put down the capital expense of building a proprietary network, but can, instead, rent space on the existing network. Clint Wheelock, who does research for GigaOM Pro, thinks that cell phone companies (subscription required) will be the leading way that smart meters are connected to utilities. I’m still unsure that utilities will want to keep shelling out a payment to the phone companies.
When it comes to Twitter and smart meters, other companies have had the same idea, too, linking up with Twitter, and connecting with its massive userbase. German utility Yello Strom told me back in July that it was building a tweeting meter application in case its customers wanted to keep track of energy consumption via Twitter. I’ve also subscribed to IBM “Master Inventor” Andy Stanford-Clark’s Twitter feed for a while, and the feed tweets everything that his house does including energy consumption (lights turned off, too much energy used, fountain turned on, etc). Sounds boring, but it’s surprisingly compelling.