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LETTER: No need to force new technology on residents

letter-sta

Regarding the Feb. 12 letter to the editor from Rod Matthews, titled "Smart water meters are a simple safety system":

If smart water meters improve your life than that is truly great and I am happy for you. Hopefully you are happier too, thanks to them. And if they save money for the city that’s also a win. But there is no need to try to force the technology on your neighbors who are not as happy with it as you are.

Adoption of new technology comes with risk. The long-term safety of smart water meters will not be proven until they’ve been in use for a long time. You can say there’s no evidence of them being harmful, but that is not proof that they are harmless.

Purely mechanical devices can be fully understood by a person with some basic training. Smart water meters on the other hand are complex, using proprietary circuitry and software that requires a whole team of engineers to fully understand. If something goes awry, you are helpless to do anything about it yourself. Some people prefer to stick with simple devices.

Security of “smart” IoT devices is also a concern as many such devices have been shown to be insecure. We don’t know what exactly a hacker could do to or obtain from a smart water meter. What is sure is that people who avoid these devices have no exposure to this risk.

Some people are more risk averse and slower to embrace change than others. That does not make them uneducated or paranoid schizophrenics. Evolutionarily speaking, this is actually a positive for humanity: if early adopters embrace something that turns out to be a dead end and leads to their death, others will survive and carry on. There is a balance between advancing into the unknown and staying with what is known.

As time goes on, safety concerns will subside and flaws will get ironed out. Assuming these devices really are safe and beneficial, adoption will naturally increase with time. Everyone would like to be able to detect a water leak, the only question is at what cost.

The kind of relationship with your neighbour where you are asking the city to force unwanted technology on them via bylaws, does not sound like a positive one. If your happiness is contingent upon agreeing with your neighbours regarding smart water meters, then I would suggest that you treat them like respectable human beings and talk to them. Not with the intent of changing their mind, but with the goal of trying to understand their viewpoint, empathize with them, and find common ground. This might make you better neighbours and maybe they will eventually be influenced by your positive example. Insulting their intelligence and calling for the city to punish them with bylaws will just breed more hostility in return. If you hate your neighbours then you can try to ignore them. If you cannot be happy unless you control all water flow within a half mile radius of your house then you should move to a rural location where you won't have to deal with nearby neighbours.

Jonathon Silver, St. Albert