Utility Execs Prioritize Data Security


As utility smart-grid initiatives gain momentum, data security and data governance are two rising concerns among industry leaders.

A new study released by IDC Energy, www.idc-ei.com, examines how North American utilities are addressing IT strategy and budget, governance, business-process reform, data management and security, and enterprise architecture by going straight to the source—utility executive IT leaders.

The study, entitled “Utility CIOs: Living in a Smart Grid World,” found privacy is the No. 1 concern related to data security and management. While data management and integration are also priorities, according to IDC Energy, respondents overwhelmingly rate data privacy as the key element of strategic plans for security.

Jill Feblowitz, IDC Energy Insights’ practice director, says consumers are very concerned about how their data is being used and distributed, and the survey indicates utilities are taking their customers’ concerns very seriously.

They are right to do so, according to Pike Research, www.pikeresearch.com, which says consumer acceptance and comfort-level with the technology is of paramount importance for the industry.

Because consumer issues within the industry seem to have intensified in 2010, utilities are seeking ways to communicate the benefits of smart meters, while addressing consumer concerns such as billing and privacy.

Of the 1,000 participants in Pike’s research, only 29% gave the devices a favorable rating. Of those who were “extremely familiar” with smart meters, however, 67% reflected positively on the devices.

This could mean industry leaders like those surveyed by IDC are on the right track by making issues such as data security their top priority. Pike’s numbers also indicate that general education about smart-grid technologies, devices, and initiatives is still needed.

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