SSH reverse tunnels for secure access to smart meters

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Article from Issue 150/2013

We’ll show you a practical project for monitoring home energy usage with SSH and OpenWrt.

Smart meters improve consumer energy management and help suppliers develop better methods for load control. Smart metering systems rely heavily on modern methods of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). 3e-Houses is a project sponsored by the European Union to carry out research into smart metering systems in social housing (Figure 1). The project has a EUR 4 million budget and aims to integrate ICT technology and smart metering so that participants can monitor and manage their energy consumption. A consortium was established comprising organizations from Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, and the UK. Each country conducted a trial implementation. This paper focuses on the UK project, which was in Bristol.

The trial was based on social housing sites in the KnowleWest and Dove Street areas of Bristol. The UK consortium consists of the Bristol City Council, KnowleWest Media Center, Toshiba Research Labs, and my organization: IP Performance. One of the challenges of implementing a smart metering system is remote connectivity. Energy data is collected from each home and transferred to a remote collector. Thus, the configuration requires a data network that connects the remote collector to each domestic smart metering system. Fortunately, many of the participants had broadband services, either through ADSL or cable. This broadband service enabled us to use the Internet to connect the smart metering systems to the remote collector. Conscious of digital inclusion issues, some participants who previously had no Internet access were provided broadband services.

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