Hedging for Privacy in Smart Water Meters

Hedging for Privacy in Smart Water Meters

By: Salomons E., Sela L., Housh M.
Published in: Water Resources Research
SDGs : SDG 07  |  Units: Social Sciences  | Time: 2020 |  Link
Description: Smart water meters at household connections are being installed in large numbers throughout the world due to the benefit s they are expected to bring to the water utilities and water consumers. Smart metering provides high-resolution readings and promises benefits to the water utilities, such as demand forecasting, regulating time-of-use watering, and making intelligent operation and planning decisions. For the consumers, smart metering promises improved billing and demand reduction by providing detailed and timely information about their water use and early notification of possible water leaks in their premises. However, the fine-grained information collected by smart meters raises growing concerns of privacy invasion due to personal behavior exposure (private activity, daily routine, etc.). Nevertheless, there is no readily available technology for protecting water consumers from revealing their in-home private activities. Thus, a viable argument in favor of smart metering technologies will not be possible without proactively accounting for the associated privacy challenges. Here, we present a practical technology coupling a dedicated apparatus with a control model for increasing personal privacy. We quantify the level of privacy achieved using information-theoretic criterion and an empirically based occupancy detection method between the smart meter readings and actual water use. Furthermore, we evaluate and compare privacy protection using the best effort approach previously developed for masking activities revealed from smart electricity meters. The main results reveal that simple control actions can disguise personal behavior patterns and, thus, hedge against privacy breach in smart water meters. Furthermore, we quantify the trade-off between the size of the apparatus and the level of privacy protection it provides. Our results demonstrate how “privacy friendly” smart water metering technology could be implemented in real-life systems and reduce the privacy concerns of water consumers. © 2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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