A software engineer based in the United States has questioned plans to introduce smart meters to curb the theft of electricity. Speaking to The Sunday Mail, Mr Tendekai Muchenje explained that the power utility did not need new hardware but simply needed to employ relatively cheap analytics software solutions to identify suspicious buying patterns since the meters were being manually tampered with. “An analytics dashboard would not be too difficult to create. The only issue is how deeply it would be allowed, in this case, by Zesa to read from their systems. You could have something integrated into the meters (a bit more involving) or you could just develop a dashboard which analyses buying trends and identifies anomalies which would then be passed on to loss control for investigation,” he explained to The Sunday Mail by email.
“The essential component of an analytics dashboard is its ability to analyse usage patterns. If an account in Mount Pleasant is buying US$20 of electricity when surrounding homes are using ten times that amount, the system would pick up on such anomalies and immediately alert loss control. In the same way, if an account had not purchased any electricity for an unreasonable amount of time this could be picked up by relatively simple algorithms. If people know that they will receive a visit from ZESA loss control they will probably choose not to cheat the system. It seems ZESA is trying to use a sledgehammer to open a nut. If loss control is their problem I don’t see why expensive smart meters would be necessary, there are simpler and cheaper solutions. Mr Muchenje runs a start-up, 6tm Solutions, in the United States; he was previously employed by Microsoft.
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