Guidance on the usability-privacy tradeoff for utility customer data aggregation

Benjamin L. Ruddell, Dan Cheng, Eric Daniel Fournier, Stephanie Pincetl, Caryn Potter, Richard Rushforth

Modern cities, along with their researchers and innovators can benefit from applying ” big data” to their sustainability and infrastructure problems and policies, e.g., water and energy consumption. Unfortunately, current utility customer data (UCD) privacy rulemaking fails to ensure safe release of these data for the public benefit and does not currently strike a sound balance between the competing values of usability and privacy. This paper presents a statistical analysis of the tradeoff between usability and privacy for UCD in Los Angeles. The tradeoffs vary by economic sector (residential vs. commercial/industrial) and by utility type (water, electricity, natural gas). This paper provides guidance for safer and more ethically balanced aggregation and release of utility customer data.

Published Work | 2020 | Utilities Policy

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