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Electricity as (big) data: metering, spatiotemporal granularity and value

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Big Data and Society
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)1-12
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date9/02/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Electricity is hidden within wires and networks only revealing its quantity and flow when metered. The making of its properties into data is therefore particularly important to the relations that are formed around electricity as a produced and managed phenomenon. We propose approaching all metering as a situated activity, a form of quantification work in which data is made and becomes mobile in particular spatial and temporal terms, enabling its entry into data infrastructures and schemes of evaluation and value production. We interrogate the transition from the pre-digital into the making of bigger, more spatiotemporally granular electricity data, through focusing on those actors selling and materialising new metering technologies, data infrastructures and services for larger businesses and public sector organisations in the UK. We examine the claims of truth and visibility that accompany these shifts and their enrolment into management techniques that serve to more precisely apportion responsibility for, and evaluate the status of, particular patterns and instances of electricity use. We argue that whilst through becoming big data electricity flow is now able to be known and given identity in significantly new terms, enabling new relations to be formed with the many heterogeneous entities implicated in making and managing energy demand, it is necessary to sustain some ambivalence as to the performative consequences that follow for energy governance. We consider the wider application of our conceptualisation of metering, reflecting on comparisons with the introduction of new metering systems in domestic settings and as part of other infrastructural networks