Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Future of the Car

This special online edition of Popular Science titled 'The Future of the Car':

"We have reached an odd, maybe unique point in the history of technology, when the distant future is easier to imagine than the more proximate months and years ahead. Fifty years from now, most parties would agree, hydrogen fuel cell technology will power our world—everything from artificial organs to cruise ships and certainly our automobiles. By then we will have figured out how to produce cheap, CO2-neutral hydrogen—perhaps by using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power to electrolyze water, perhaps with synthetic fuels (bio-ethanol and bio-diesel), perhaps by sequestering carbon from fossil feed stocks such as coal, perhaps with some fairy dust as yet undiscovered. By then the fuel cell industry will be sufficiently advanced to build very compact hydrogen tanks with enormous energy density, and fuel cells that are cheap enough for economy cars and robust enough for chilly northern climates—assuming global warming hasn’t already taken care of that problem for us..

...The automobile will at last fulfill the promise resonant in the words “autonomous mobility.” Mass transit as we think of it now will seem as wrongheaded as eugenics. Automobiles’ quantum-computer cores will be the archives of our memory, our machine adjuncts, our confidantes, in ways so profound and personal as to mock today’s limited PDA phones. We will have merged with our cars."

Other articles on the future of the automobile available here

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mapping the Blogosphere

Just learned that The Chronicle of Higher Education has a short story, accompanied with an audio-visual presentation, on mapping the blogosphere. The story relates to a posting on the blog Data Mining which has posted a couple of maps of the blogosphere. The approach he takes is that those blogs that are more popular (i.e. are linked to more often) will be closer to the core.

Thanks to Cartography

Mobilities, Networks, Geographies

An interesting book just published titled 'Mobilities, Networks, Geographies' from Jonas Larsen, John Urry and Kay Axhausen:

The last decade or so has seen striking increases in both long-distance travel and in communications through mobile phones, text messaging, emailing, videoconferencing and so on. Such developments in communication, along with a similar increase in physical travel and movement of goods around the globe, reconfigure social networks by disconnecting and reconnecting people in new ways. This book puts forward one of the first social science studies of the geographies of social networks and related mobilities of travel, communications and face-to-face meetings. The book examines five interdependent mobilities that form and reform these geographies of networks and travel in the contemporary world. These are: physical travel of people for work, leisure, pleasure, migration and escape; physical movement of objects delivered to producers, consumers and retailers; imaginative travel elsewhere through images and memories seen on texts, TV, computer screens and film; virtual travel on the internet; and communicative travel through letters, cards, telegrams, telephones, faxes, text messages and videoconferences. In the book the authors examine the interconnections between these different mobilities. They research how travel and social meetings require systems of coordination using virtual and communicative travel in-between physical travel and meetings. They argue that, while it might be imagined that there would be less need of physical meetings with improved ICTs, on the contrary, scheduled visits and meetings have become highly significant. The research shows that they are necessary to social life in the contemporary world, both within business and especially within families and friendships which are increasingly conducted at-a-distance.

An All-Electric Car That Accelerates Faster Than a Ferrari

TechReview's post on 'An All-Electric Car That Accelerates Faster Than a Ferrari' writes how Silicon Valley is shifting towards becoming a centre for researching and developing electric cars - a re-invention of Silicon Valley?

"Silicon Valley thinks it can do what Detroit could not -- create a thriving business selling electric cars. In the 1990s, General Motors and other automakers spent billions to develop battery-powered vehicles, but they flopped because most couldn't travel more than 100 miles before having to recharge.

By tapping the Bay Area's engineering expertise and culture of innovation, a cluster of entrepreneurs, engineers and venture capitalists here are racing to bring their own electric cars to market. But unlike the Detroit and Japanese automakers, they're working on high-performance sports cars for wealthy car enthusiasts.

At least three Silicon Valley startups -- Tesla Motors of San Carlos, Wrightspeed Inc. of Woodside and battery maker Li-on Cells of Menlo Park -- are among a small cadre of companies nationwide developing electric cars or components."

Network sensors to Secure America's Power Grid

In the article 'Securing America's Power Grid' from ScienceDaily it discusses how networks of wireless sensors are being developed to monitor the US power grid to better respond to weather disasters, or terrorist incursions:

"An Iowa State University research team led by Arun Somani, chair and Jerry R. Junkins professor of electrical and computer engineering, is working to develop a network of wireless sensors that could monitor the country's electricity transmission system. While the sensors could pick up suspicious activity at power poles, they'd be especially useful at quickly locating any breakdowns. That could allow power companies to react in time to prevent power disruptions from cascading into blackouts. And the monitoring system could also help power companies quickly locate problems when severe weather tears down electrical lines."

It seems that remote wireless sensors will soon be the norm for regulation and monitoring?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Everyware - ubiquitous computing

Adam Greenfield - author of 'Everyware - The dawning age of ubiquitous computing' gave a talk at the Institute For The Future. Here are somenotes:

"AG's notion of ubicomp draws on Weiser's vision of computing being "invisible but everywhere around us" (weiser 1990), built upon very cheap computing "spread around like grass seeds", and "embedded, wireless, imperceptible, multiple, and post-gui" (AG, 2006).

This would generate new kinds of modalities of interaction, particularly design "dissolving into behavior."

It would also allow for the instantiation of computing and interaction with it at a wide variety of physical scales, at the level of the body (Body Media SenseWear), the object, the room (Sensasell), the building, the street (Shinjuku RFID lamppost).

But they're also networked together, which allows for some really interesting interactions; and hard to see, literally and figuratively (because you can't detect or sense embedded computing). So what does this look like?"

Read the rest of the post at IFTF's Future Now blog

Tele-care wristwatch PC

A new wrist-worn PC has been developed and demonstrated to the military forces. This device, which can run Linux or Windows CE, is a hands-free computer which handles wireless networking and GPS tracking. It also comes with a 240 x 320 pixels touchscreen and has a battery which can last about 8 hours. It only weighs 300 grams.

Yet more importantly it can be used by healthcare or law enforcement personnel. According to specifications:

"The wireless functionalities of the WL 1000 ensure continuous connectivity no matter the location of the user, by utilizing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS capabilities. Using Linux or Windows CE operating systems, the unit can be quickly configured to access any remote host system through integrated wired or wireless interfaces."

Imagine the potential benefits for tele-care workers in the field as well as emergency response teams?

Via ZDNet

The future of telecom is in....Wales

Interesting developments in communications architecture - Cardiff will be the first UK city to benefit from BT's planned restructuring in how information is received and sent:

"The city of Cardiff may seem like an unlikely place for a technological revolution, but in a few months the capital of Wales will be home to a new kind of telecommunications network that could drastically change the way phone calls, Web pages, e-mail and other data are shipped to and fro.

BT, the incumbent phone company in the United Kingdom, is planning to shut off all of its legacy phone networks - a hodge podge of systems that includes the traditional "circuit switched" system that has served as the architecture for delivering phone calls for more than a century - by 2010...

...BT is creating an open, standards-based platform for which anyone can develop new applications. In other words, the phone has the potential to become more like the Internet with its proliferation of cool new Web sites, tools and services.

"This whole thing is based on openness and transparency," says Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT's wholesale operations. "We want to allow experimentation by application developers."

Via Fortune/CNNMoney

Mobile executions

I was intrigued by this post from Space & Culture which comments on China's set-up of mobile execution vehicles or, as they have been dubbed - 'death-vans':

"Unlike the United States and Singapore, the only two other countries where death is administered by injection, China metes out capital punishment from specially equipped 'death vans' that shuttle from town to town ... China's critics contend that the transition from firing squads to injections in death vans facilitates an illegal trade in prisoners' organs ... Organs can 'be extracted in a speedier and more effective way than if the prisoner is shot' ... Makers of death vans say they save money for poor localities that would otherwise have to pay to construct execution facilities in prisons or court buildings. The vans ensure that prisoners sentenced to death can be executed locally, closer to communities where they broke the law."

Story Via USA Today

Friday, June 23, 2006

Carnival of the Mobilists No 33

This week's must-read in the mobile-world is hosted over at Rudy de Waele's m-trends: this week's edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists is named “L’âge du Christ” - with contributions from a whole mixture of some newbies, as well as more experienced bloggers.

Better Mobility for Sustainable Urban Life

A short report from the European Union Committee -Better Mobility for Sustainable Urban Life - discusses transport, pollution, and urban sustainability:

"Green house gas emissions (GHG) have increased constantly in the transport sector over recent years. This sector is responsible for 31% of energy consumption and 21% of European GHG emissions.

This concerns European urban areas where 80% of citizens live. A shift towards environmentally friendly modes of transport is the key solution, and public transport plays a crucial role: it consumes less energy, uses less space and is less damaging to the urban environment.

Position on the European Climate Change Programme and the Green Paper on Energy Efficiency - The role of public transport to reduce GHG emissions and improve energy efficiency."

Download pdf on the role of public trnasport

Thursday, June 22, 2006


1st workshop of the Mediterranean Mobilities Research Group
Lancaster University Conference Centre, 7 July

Since its birth European tourism has been inextricably linked to the Mediterranean. Today this sea stands as the world> '> s first tourist destination and tourism is entangled in virtually every realm of life in the Mediterranean, from terrorism, corruption or drug smuggling to gender and ethnic relations, migration, and environmental awareness.

Current geopolitical transformations and intensified processes of globalization have produced a new form of radical uncertainty for the 21st century which is opening up a plethora of new possibilities for the evolution of tourism in the region. Growing demand of luxury goods and landscapes, deindustrialisation, economic polarisation, expansion of illicit economies, cheap flights, rapid urbanisation of the coastline, growing flows of migrants from the South and East, escalation of military conflicts, tensions surrounding energy supply -> these are traces in the emerging and uncertain landscape of Mediterranean life.

This workshop will reflect on the way that tourism futures are being constructed by recent developments. The presentations will address aspects of Mediterranean tourisms in a way that elicit discussion about emerging patterns in the evolution of these leisure practices and its implications for future developments in the region.

This focus on emerging futures is part of a wider concern in the social sciences to keep pace with a changed and changing world. The popularity of tropes of emergence and becoming in social research partly reflect the anxieties in apprehending the complexity, provisionality and indeterminacy of novelty in social life. This workshop will also offer a possibility to reflect upon the ways in which our own anxieties of 'being behind' and our own future orientations in imagining tourism are shaping the research agenda on tourism in the Mediterranean.

This is the first in a series of workshops organised by the Mediterranean Mobilities Research Group-CeMoRe aimed at advancing our understanding of how the transnationalisation of forms of life and places is shaping the Mediterranean. Further information about the can be found in the link below.

Mediterranean Mobilities Research Group

Ecopolis now

An article in this month's New Scientist - Eco-cities special: Ecopolis now - asks what are the key components of an "eco-city" of the future? It addresses the issues concerning what are the most important conditions of existing cities that must be changed, and what services and plans added, in order to create a sustainable urban environment that can accommodate massive population booms within its city limits:

"Returning the world's population to the countryside isn't an option...And dividing up the planet into plots of land on which we could all live self-sufficiently would create its own natural disasters, not to mention being highly unlikely to ever happen.

If we are to protect what is left of nature, and meet the demand to improve the quality of living for the world's developing nations, a new form of city living is the only option. The size of a city creates economies of scale for things such as energy generation, recycling and public transport. It should even be possible for cities to partly feed themselves. Far from being parasites on the world, cities could hold the key to sustainable living for the world's booming population - if they are built right."

RFID and a surveillance camera

Electronics company NEC have recently announced that they developed a system that combines RFID and surveillance camera:

According to RFID in Japan blog: "the system can continuously track people or vehicles. The system uses a camera and RFID in a complementary fashion. When a camera recognizes a moving entity, the system reads information from an RFID tag (carried by a person or a vehicle). Also, it uses RFID to track rough positions of moving entities when they cannot be detected by a camera. The system automatically switches between camera-based and RFID-based tracking."

Via Smartmobs

"Digital Korea" Tour Itinerary

The Digiens@u-City blog has a post that outlines a 7-day tour itinerary for "digital Korea" that is a good way to get acquainted with both the top-down and bottom-up sides of Korea's emerging digital/broadband culture.

Thanks to the IFTF blog for this link.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Journey of Mankind

This is an interesting post via Cartography - it deals with the rise in digital mapping, this time to show the movement of the human race:

"The Bradshaw Foundation has an animated world map that displays the movement of the human race from its beginnings in the heart of Africa 160,000 years ago. As well as showing the movement of various groups it also shows the various climate changes over the years, some very dramatic and sudden.

From the website: “We are the descendants of a few small groups of tropical Africans who united in the face of adversity, not only to the point of survival but to the development of a sophisticated social interaction and culture expressed through many forms. Based on a synthesis of the mtDNA and Y chromosome evidence with archaeology, climatology and fossil study, Stephen Oppenheimer has tracked the routes and timing of migration, placing it in context with ancient rock art around the world.”

Social capital

The blogsite The Oil Drum: New York City has an interesting map of the United States that displays the amount of social capital per state.

In this context, it indicates the sense of community and interconnectedness people feel. The map is based on the results of a survey - it suggests by Robert Putnam, author of a book on social capital called Bowling Alone - which states that regions such as Vermont and North Dakota have higher levels of social capital than Nevada or Alabama.

Web accessibility soon mandatory in Europe?

According to a CNet report, the 25 European Commission member states and nine accession countries have all signed up for an "Internet for all" action plan, designed to ensure that the most Web-disadvantaged groups can get online:

"The EC has pledged to increase broadband coverage across the continent to 90 percent by 2010 and to halve exclusion rates in skills and digital literacy by 2010

The 25 European Commission member states and nine accession countries have all signed up for a plan that could make accessibility in e-procurement mandatory.

The 34 countries all signed an agreement in Riga, Latvia, on Wednesday, committing themselves to the "Internet for all" action plan, designed to ensure that the most Web-disadvantaged groups can get online.

The EC has now pledged to increase broadband coverage across the continent to 90 percent by 2010. Rural areas are still underserved, according to the Commission, with about 60 percent penetration. Urban areas fare better and are already at the 90 percent mark."

Wireless emergency response

In this article, it discusses how last week it was announced that there were plans to test two competing wireless technologies to create a Citywide Mobile Wireless Network (CMWN) for emergency responders in New York:

"The wireless technology will enable New York City Police and Fire Department personnel to quickly access and download information including city maps, building plans and federal and state counter-terrorism and crime databases from police vehicles and fire and EMS apparatus. In addition, city agencies employing safety inspectors and maintenance teams in the field will also be able to utilize the wireless network"

Wireless and/or better distributed communication technologies for disaster emergencies has been on the agenda for a while. After recent events, including Katrina, this is both a much-needed move, and not soon enough...

Via Smartmobs

Bikes are back in China

According to a recent Guardian article - 'China backs bikes to kick car habit' - that bikes are back in fashion and to be, once again, encouraged... no doubt because of the rising environmental concerns:

"The construction ministry announced on Thursday that any bike lanes that have been narrowed or destroyed to make way for cars in recent years must be returned to their original glory. This followed orders on Tuesday that all civil servants should cycle to work or take public transport to reduce the smog that chokes most city streets and urban lungs.

The apparent shift of focus comes at the start of a new five-year economic plan in which the government says its priority is to improve the environment and conserve energy. Earlier this month, the World Bank issued a new report calling on China to invest more in public transport rather than focusing on the construction of new highways for cars."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Future of the GeoWeb

Mike Liebhold, Senior Researcher at Institute For The Future, gave a talk on the geospatially-enabled web at O'Reilly's Where 2.0 conference recently. He discussed what things still need to be done to realize the vision of a geographically-enabled web:

"Liebhold's presentation included a dramatic slide that showed a person holding up a Treo like he was taking a photo of a street corner. The Treo's display showed tags overlaid on top of the real world image. The tags could be linked to things like restaurant reviews, train schedules, and distances to landmarks."

A similar lecture that Mike Liebhold gave on this topic is available in audio and video form at the Networked Publics research group site. He also set up a feed for geospatial-related articles, images and other nuggets of truth.

Old London Maps

There are a number of sites hosting high resolution jpegs of old London maps. MAPCO has about 12 of them dating from 1560 to the end of the nineteenth century. MAPCO’s self-proclaimed intention is “to provide genealogists, students and historians with free access to high quality scans of rare and beautiful antique maps and views.”

However, Old London Maps has a similar but smaller collection of maps, focusing on London and dating from 1658 to 1872.

Cartographer's heaven.....

Yellow is for sharing

Worldchanging reports in 'Yellow Chairs and Neighborly Technology' how yellow has been used to denote a shared resource: previously a project using yellow bikes was used to denote that it could be shared. Now, another ad-hoc 'yellow project' has sprung up - yellow chairs! Yet these yellow chairs inform passers-by that they can sit down and use a free Wi-Fi network from a nearby house....nice touch!

"When a local household in San Jose decides its share its wireless network with neighbours and other strangers, the house members do not know what to expect. Few curious passersby stop by to see what would happen next. There is a rumour that somewhere else, at the other end of town, another household with a yellow chair is doing the same thing. What was going on? The rumour mill worked overtime, as people wondered why anyone would want to sit on a yellow chair to access a wireless network. But for those who sat on the chair, they knew it was a unique experience and a lot of fun. They had been ‘invited’ to enter personal networks, share music and movies and shout across town about war and politics if they so wished. They felt like cyber voyeurs, entering unknown territories, grabbing and dropping files across the neighbourhood, across the city, over a cup of coffee."

Is there a yellow chair near you?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

BBC does urban growth

BBC Online recently posted on 'Your pictures of urban growth' - a project to collect pictures on urbanisation - before & after:

"The pace of change over the last 50 years has swallowed up large tracts of countryside and transformed towns into cities, cities into megacities.

The BBC is running a special season of features, quizzes, picture galleries and statistical guides starting next week and we would like your help.

Have you any pictures showing the old and the new? We're interested in images that show the 'before and after' of urbanisation. Have you photographs of rural areas before the arrival of concrete? Send them to"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Swarming Satellites

This just in: NASA, MIT, and the ESA are working on satellites that swarm....

Yep - according to Worldchanging:

"We're not talking about sets of multiple satellites which can all be coordinated from the ground to work together; that doesn't count, useful as it is, because it requires control from the ground. We're not even talking about the ESA's set of satellites named SWARM from 2004; they were another of the dozens of groups of ground-controlled devices launched over the last several decades (which include communications satellites, GPS satellites, etc.) We're talking about satellites that exhibit autonomous collective behavior: devices that don't have a whole lot of intelligence in each one, and don't need to communicate with each other or mission control to decide their actions, but when taken as a group they can complete complex tasks that are difficult or impossible for large single satellites (or astronauts) to achieve."

Swarming - from complex mobilities to satellites! I'll keep an eye on this...

Wi-Fi Meters

The site reports in 'Wi-Fi Meters' that the wireless network movement is joining a new generation of high-tech meters to improve data gathering and increase revenue:

"Hoping to gain efficiencies in police, utility and maintenance efforts, cities from Portland, Ore., to Philadelphia are planning wireless networks, which will also offer untethered Internet access to citizens.

One especially promising area is parking, where the wireless network movement is joining a new generation of high-tech meters to improve data gathering and increase revenue."

Although this is a US project at the moment, one wonders whether it will wander over the Atlantic in the not too distant future?

The Guardian moves to the web

The Guardian newspaper has announced - 'The web trail' - that it will publish its stories first to the web, effectively ending the primacy of the printed newspaper:

'The Mail is moving internet staff into its newsroom, the Telegraph is stepping up its digital operation - possibly with some internal confusion about its ultimate destination - and every man and woman at News International is scurrying to satisfy Rupert Murdoch's new interest in the medium.

But for a newspaper to say that the website comes first is a big, big step. Ever since the second coming of the internet - the first coming ended around 2001, to the delight of all those newspaper executives who didn't like the look of it - there has been a given in newspaper offices: we will take the internet seriously, but we must not let it get in the way of our primary business, which is publishing a paper each night.'

Will this signal further Net-moves for other newspapers? Each newspaper nowadays employs the use of bloggers - will this signal increased importance for bloggers?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Top politicians pay homage to king of bloggers

The Guardian has travelled to Las Vegas to see just how influential political bloggers are becoming - or have become!

In 'Top politicians pay homage to king of bloggers' they write that

"Thousands of bloggers gathered last week in the Riviera to exchange ideas, debate and plot their steady takeover of journalism and political debate from newspapers, magazines and television.

Anyone who thinks blogging is over-rated should have looked at the guest list of power players who followed the blogging herd to Las Vegas to woo and be wooed by these latest additions to the political scene. Reporters and columnists from all the main newspapers showed up, as did Democratic strategists. Even potential Democrat candidates for the 2008 presidential election pitched up to network and sell their political wares to the online community. Although the event was meant to appeal to all parties, its guest list was overwhelmingly liberal."

One of the mosy influential political bloggers - Moulitsas - now has "more readers than many large American newspapers. His website gets about 20 million unique visits each month, a figure that dwarfs many global media organisations. This has made him a genuine power in politics. His views are sought out by political journalists and he has appeared as a pundit on television."

No longer just a band of nerds, mmm?

Electronic 'spy in the road'

The Independent writes about new satellite technology that may be about to achieve the end of the traffic warden. A British firm has invented a system of sensors that could wipe out the infamous parking enforcers patrolling the UK's towns and cities.

Electronic 'spy in the road' may replace traffic wardens:

"Resembling a conventional cat's-eye, the aluminum road studs can be installed in the road surface in seconds. Using a tiny satellite receiver they immediately sense when a car has parked over them because the signal is blocked.

When vehicles park in no-parking zones or overstay their time limits, even by a second, a message is sent to a central computer. This could then prompt an automatic camera, similar to those used in bus lanes, to photograph the offending vehicle. The first a motorist would know about it would be when a fine turns up at their home."

Automation of all disliked services?

Indian eye doctors

This is an interesting development in tele-care, or mobile technologies of care: researchers at the University of California,Berkeley,and at Intel Corporation have developed a new technology "based on "Wi-Fi" wireless networks" which,"allows eye specialists at Aravind Eye Hospital at Theni in the southern India state of Tamil Nadu to interview and examine patients in five remote clinics via a high-quality video conference.

According to the article - 'New wireless networking system brings eye care to thousands in India' -

"The information technology revolution holds tremendous potential for addressing problems in developing countries," said Eric Brewer, a UC Berkeley professor of computer science and director of the Intel Research Berkeley lab who initiated efforts to develop the technology. "Historically, though, most projects have been either too expensive or too technologically complex to be used in poor, rural areas. What we've done here is develop a simple, inexpensive software and hardware system that can provide villages with a high-bandwidth connection to computer networks in cities as far as 50 miles away."

Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites

A NewScientist post titled 'Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites' looks at how sites such as MySpace and Friendster could be the latest target of the US National Security Agency as it gathers personal data for counter-terrorism:

"New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals."

No sites are free from information collection: mobile identities for immobility of the individual?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cosmobilities Newsletter

Hot off the press! The brand new second issue of the Cosmobilities Newsletter.

This time it basically provides information around the upcoming Air Time-Spaces conference in September in Lancaster. Also included is a portrait of some of the projects going on at the CeMoRe centre at Lancaster -

For the Air Time-Spaces - Please, register quickly! A small number of places is still available. All information necessary for registration you get from the cosmobilities website.

And, please feel free to circulate this newsletter as widely as possible - available as a pdf-file here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Week in Sustainable Mobility (6/4/06)

This week in sustainable mobility is discussed:


Ricardo, QinetiQ and PSA Peugeot Citroën presented the results of their Efficient-C two-year collaborative research project: a parallel hybrid-electric diesel demonstrator vehicle emitting just 99 g/km CO2 (equivalent to 3.75 liters per 100km or more than 63 mpg US) based on a fully featured Citroën Berlingo Multispace family car. (GCC.)

Plus more on bio-fuel hybrids and news on battery vehicles.

Via Worldchanging

MySociety Travel Maps

MySociety is a project that has created a tool to help individuals and communities to travel, in terms of cost and time, and offers what some other online trip-planning map services don't:

'Essentially, rather than find travel routes based upon known destinations, you can find out how long it takes to get to certain places using various modes of transit, and choose your destination based upon that information (useful in making decisions about where to work, where to live, or where to enjoy leisure travel).

The colour scale is in hours of total travel time. Warm colours indicate short travel time—red for four hours or less, orange and yellow for four to eight hours—and cool colours longer journeys...Areas with no colour at all...cannot be reached at all by rail and a taxi journey of up to one hour.' (Via Worldchanging)

5th annual mobility roundtable

For mobility news - The 5th Annual Mobility Roundtable was held in Helsinki from 1-2 June 2006,hosted by the Helsinki School of Economics the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit Newslog reports.The 6th roundtable will be held in Los Angeles (California) in June 2007,hosted by the University of Southern California.The programme,and all final papers can be found on the link above.

Via Smartmobs

Smartmobbing disaster relief

More on social networks and disaster relief: a blog called WorldWideHelp is for a "General newsgroup and rallying point for power bloggers, wiki experts, database adepts, etc., for calls to action and volunteers to provide information post-disasters."

According to a post on Smartmobs - 'This blog was started by several founders and members of the SEA EAT (South East Asian Earthquake And Tsunami) blog, wiki and database, which gained worldwide attention at the time of the earthquake and tsunami on 26th December, 2004. The group, now The World Wide Help Group, has since remobilised to aid in other relief efforts.'

This is a great example of the blogosphere and collaborative cooperation working for disaster relief.

Digital Planet - disaster management

This week's Digital Planet - 05/06/06 Digital Planet - has a useful look at the use of communications in disaster recovery - a hot topic:

'This week we look at the role software can play in disaster management. How do NGOs and governments keep track of missing people or work out where to send food aid? A unique system developed in Sri Lanka following the Tsunami is now providing the answer. We hear from Malaysia about the country's faltering dream of becoming the IT hub for Asia. Huge investment went into the development and construction of a cyber corridor ten years ago, but the project has been dogged by incompetence and a prescriptive approach from the developers. The programme also examines forgery of online data. The British library has responsibility for collecting all works published in Britain, including web pages. But with the huge range of image altering tools available it?s far easier to change digital images than printed ones.'

Monday, June 05, 2006

Proposal to Implant Tracking Chips in Immigrants has a story - Proposal to Implant Tracking Chips in Immigrants
- whereby Chairman of VeriChip proposes, on television, to implant immigrants with RFID tags:

"Scott Silverman, Chairman of the Board of VeriChip Corporation, has proposed implanting the company's RFID tracking tags in immigrant and guest workers. He made the statement on national television on May 16.
Silverman was being interviewed on "Fox & Friends." Responding to the Bush administration's call to know "who is in our country and why they are here," he proposed using VeriChip RFID implants to register workers at the border, and then verify their identities in the workplace. He added, "We have talked to many people in Washington about using it...."

Another scary sign of where RFID technology could be heading...

Get a weather warning by text: 'Head4shelter'

In Sunday's Observer newspaper an article - Get a weather warning by text: 'Head4shelter' - describes how a new website is to offer an SMS service to warn mobile users of location-specific weather:

"You plan to spend the day watching tennis at Wimbledon. Before setting off, you type 'SW19' into a website, which, while you are on your way, sends you a text message: 'Rain coming your way.' You decide tennis is not such a good idea and go to the Tate instead...The website is to offer subscribers SMS text warnings of imminent downpours, sensitive to within a few miles and updatable every quarter of an hour.

'If you're putting the washing out to dry, or thinking of having a barbecue, an SMS rain warning will make your life a lot easier,' said Paul Michaelwaite, managing director of"

Yes - but lets remember Michael Fish's prediction of calm weather before the hurricane struck!?

Web users to 'patrol' US border

In a BBCOnline post - 'Web users to 'patrol' US border' - the issue of webcam surveillance is discussed, here in relation to the Mexican border:

"A US state is to enlist web users in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.
The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings."

Again - the collaborative effect of utilising web-networked individuals. However, this time it's in a more Foucauldian sense of self-regulation & 'technologies of the self': the people survey themselves as if in a digitised neighbourhood watch - a multitude of little brothers...

Manchester - Top satellite town!

According to the Times - in a post called 'Top satellite town' - the 'drivers of Manchester appear to have dispensed with their maps and embraced the satellite revolution'.

More GPS on British the article to find out which other cities are hot on using GPS road travel.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wireless Networking in the Developing World

I've recently come across a new book - co-authored by SeattleWireless pioneer Rob Flickenger - called Wireless Networking in the Developing World.

It's aimed at communities and activists in developing countries - to roll out their own telcos using Wi-Fi and other unlicensed wireless networking technologies.

And its available free as a Creative Commons-licensed PDF download.

Top 15 Countries in Mobile, January 2006

Follow the link here to see a graph that "shows the 15 countries with the largest number of mobile subscribers.China is by far the overall leader with 393.4 million subscribers,almost twice as many as the United States in second place with 201.7 million".Russia (120),Japan (94.7) and Brazil (86.2) make up the top five.