Tuesday, October 31, 2006


First Call for Papers


The Third International Winter Academy for Researchers and PhD students

University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland

10-12 May 2007


Lisa Adkins (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Fuat Firat (University of Texas, Pan American)

Eeva Jokinen (University of Jyväskylä)

Claudio Minca (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Johanna Moisander (Helsinki School of Economics)

Beverley Skeggs (Goldsmiths College, London)

Anu Valtonen (University of Lapland)

Jussi Vähämäki (Chydenius-Institute)

And others…

What happens when one person’s leisure is someone else’s job? More and more people today are employed in cultural and leisure industries. They manufacture and serve leisure experiences for mobile consumers on holiday or at work. Tourism and travel industries are also among the major cultural forces of our era, since tourism differs from all other sectors of employment. It is intertwined with culture, economy, and social community life and, hence, makes an ideal subject for studies of mobilities and complexities in contemporary life where the public and the private are linked in unforeseen ways.

This meeting will contribute to interdisciplinary, cultural studies of new work and labour in tourism, travelling, and other mobile worlds. It will address the issues of tourism, travelling, hospitality, new work, and mobility through a variety of disciplines and schools of thought. New methodological insights will be emphasised for studying work in a mobile world in its concrete forms.

The meeting will build on the “sociability-friendly” concept for academic events developed in the previous two Winter Academies held in January 2003 and March 2004 at the University of Lapland (under the topics of Landscapes of Presence and Hostilities and Hospitalities). Discussions will be promoted through key note lectures and elaborated in three parallel workshops, where both senior scholars and PhD students are equally welcomed to present their work-in-progress. The invited guest speakers will also act as commentators and discussants in the workshops. The workshops are entitled:

* Landscapes of Work (geographies, regions, and taskscapes)

* Performances of Work (new work, gender, and cultural economies)

* Market-Related Work (cultural approaches in business studies)

The number of participants is restricted to around 40 to facilitate debate in joint sessions, workshops as well as during the excursions and dinners in the light nights of the North. Researchers worldwide, with their doctoral students, are warmly welcomed to join a possibility for both researcher training and meeting in one and same event. The registration fee (to cover all costs except for lodging and travel costs) will be 200 euros (early bird) and 300 euros (late bird).

Key dates for submission

Abstracts: 6 November - 22 December 2006 (one page, in MS WORD format; please, indicate which workshop you wish to participate in. The proposals will be selected according to their relevance to the topics of the conference. The accepted participants will be informed by 15 January 2007)

Early bird registrations – with or without a paper: by 31 January 2007

The registration form is available on the web page from 6 November 2006 onwards, and the registration is valid only after the payment.

Late bird registrations: by 1 March 2007.

Monday, October 30, 2006

London plans hybrid bus fleet

Ah, now that serious reports are coming out on global warming - which some politicians might listen to - there are moves being made in the transport sector. Ken Livingstone, London's mayor, wants every new bus from 2012 to run on hybrid motors that will generate 40% less carbon dioxide than their diesel-powered forebears. The Guardian reports in London plans hybrid bus fleet to cut carbon emissions:

'The aim is to put 500 hybrid buses on London's roads each year, with the aim of creating a green fleet. "We take very seriously our role in cutting CO2 emissions and tackling climate change," said Peter Hendy, London's transport commissioner. "We are sending a clear message to London and the transport industry that we are serious about this."

Hybrid buses use a battery pack, backed by a diesel engine. A trial of six hybrid buses ran into trouble in London this year when the diesel engines overheated, forcing a temporary withdrawal of the vehicles, which ran on the 360 route between Elephant and Castle and Kensington.'

Middle East May Have 1 Million Natural Gas Vehicles by 2010

We are being told now that Middle East May Have 1 Million Natural Gas Vehicles by 2010 and that 'despite being home to 65% of the world’s oil reserves, pressure to improve air quality and maximize crude oil revenues is driving Middle Eastern governments to implement alternative fuel schemes that dwarf many of those in oil-dependent nations'.

Also, that 'Government and private organizations in Egypt, Iran, United Arab Emirates and other oil-rich nations are implementing programs designed to reduce consumption of gasoline and diesel with natural gas vehicles. As many as one million natural gas-powered cars, trucks and buses could be plying Middle Eastern roads by the end of this decade, according to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.'

Read more here

From Green Car Congress

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mobility in the future will be biometric

It's going biometric... first the e-passports (earlier post), and now fingerprints to open your front door, to access buildings of work and leisure, and even to have the 'right of movement'....

This BBC article Firms point to biometric future discusses some of the latest innovations to be displayed at the recent Biometrics 2006 conference in London last week:

Biometric systems - which identify a person by their unique physical or behavioural features - are rapidly being designed and applied to many aspects of our everyday lives.

Facial recognition can also be used to monitor individuals remotely - whether in crowds, clubs or public gatherings. Some systems pick out faces in a crowd and compare them to a stored database.

CrossMatch's FaceCheck is being used in casinos in Europe to identify unwanted or banned customers, and even gambling addicts who want to be stopped when temptation gets the better of them.

Looks like we're heading for an era of biomobility...

The Future from the Past

This exhibition deserves a mention - and what pictures!! Although the event has passed, the website is a treasure of past visions of future transport. It includes future visions of car/plane/public rapid transport/train - and other oddities - all accompanied by great pictures!

Its called Transportation Futuristics: Visionary Designs in Transportation Engineering

Visit the picture gallerys and see how today's mobility was envisioned in the past...

‘Many utopian themes, arising in fantasy, find their way to reality’ - Frederick Polak

'Killer app' for 3G??

Tomi Ahonen thinks he has discovered the first killer app for 3G - he said recently that 'social networking on mobile is already bigger by revenues, than social networking on the web'. In a personal email he said:

'Yes, for all the hype around MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Bebo, Second Life, Worlds of Warcraft, Skype etc - we have already more revenues generated by similar social networking activity... on mobile phones of course. Led by such services as Cyworld from South Korea (in 6 countries), Mixi in Japan, Habbo Hotel from Finland (in over a dozen countries) and SeeMeTV in the UK, Italy and other 3/Hutchison markets - social networking on mobile is THE first elusive killer app for 3G !

How big? Informa tells us it is worth 3.45 billion dollars THIS YEAR. Yes, mobile digital communities are worth more than online adult entertainment, or mobile gambling or multiplayer gaming or iTunes. Like we say in our book, Communities Dominate!'

Tomi welcomes people to check out his claims at his blog

Well... killer apps come and killer apps go..... or do they??

Electronic passports are Go!

The deadline has passed for countries who have their visa-waivered to visit the US without an electronic-passport... the deadline was October 26th:

'Except for Andorra, Brunei and Liechtenstein, all of the 27 countries whose citizens can travel to the U.S. without a visa are now issuing "e-Passports," the department said in a statement. The passports include a radio frequency identification, or RFID, chip with the holder's information and a biometric identifier, such as a digital photograph.'

Yet there are security issues here:

The take-up of the electronic passports is bad news for privacy, said Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security. "The risk in RFID passports is surreptitious access, and the security measures different countries are taking are varied in their scope and effectiveness," he said.

For protection, holders of an electronic passport should guard it well, Schneier suggested. "If you're stuck with one of these passports, use a photocopy whenever you can and keep the real one wrapped in tin foil," he said.

Well - this doesn't make people sleep easily... perhaps this will increase tin foil sales?

Read RFID passports take off

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

BT develops low-cost tsunami warning system

BT it appears has developed a low-cost sea monitoring technology that can be used to alert coastal communities of approaching floods or tsunamis:

'The "Secoas" system works by setting up a network of sensors that are attached to buoys along coastlines that monitor changes to sea levels and transmit that data back to shore by radio networks. The sensors can also be used in rivers.

The system has been designed to be cheap and easy to deploy. Traditional sea-monitoring systems cost tens of thousands of pounds to manufacture and thousands more to deploy, BT said. In contrast, each Secoas sensor should cost about £100 off the shelf, making the system accessible to poor countries.'

A type of global panopticon? Such environmental monitoring could go some way in making these issues both quick-time feedback responsive and accessible, perhaps, to a wider public through information dissemination.

Read BT develops low-cost tsunami warning system

Have SUV, will pay!

BBCNews has a piece on 'Gas guzzlers' face parking hike which says how the cost of residents' parking permits could be linked to car emissions under plans being considered in one of the country's most affluent areas:

'A Lib Dem council in London wants owners of gas-guzzling vehicles to pay more to park outside their homes. Richmond upon Thames residents with two high-emission cars could pay £750 a year, compared with £200 now, but the greenest cars would be exempt.

The council hopes other authorities will be encouraged to follow its lead. Richmond's plan follows national and local schemes targeting emissions and congestion and comes after the Lib Dem conference approved proposals to use new taxes on gas-guzzling cars and airlines to pay for income tax cuts.'

Size does matter!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Irish RFID passports

There is some controversey - or healthy debate! - over the fact that the newly arriving Irish RFID-enabled passports will not be safe from unauthorised readers. Engadget reports that:

'If you think you're at risk of identity theft and targeted assassination attempts with your new RFID-enabled passport, just think of the Irish for a moment: they started getting e-passports last week that don't even include the little mesh jacket that supposedly keeps our version safe from unauthorized readers. With Dutch and German passports based on the same ICAO guidelines having already been successfully intercepted and decrypted, people are understandably concerned that the US didn't think this policy all the way through before making it a requirement of the Visa Waiver program, and now it seems that some of the affected countries are willing to implement even shoddier security than a type that is already deemed risky. According to Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs, shielding the new documents is not necessary because they can only be detected when open and close to a reader, even though the general consensus is that the read distance of the chips they're using can be as much as several meters. Apparently the immediate fear is not so much over stolen identities (because of encryption), however, as it is about terrorists being able to use so-called RFID skimmers for targeting groups of people based on their nationality.'

Read Ireland getting naked e-passports

Less sperm in the future?

The Guardian warns that men who use mobile phones for long periods at a time may be at risk of damaging their sperm...well - according to research by American scientists:

'Samples taken from men attending a fertility clinic revealed that their sperm declined steadily in number, quality and ability to swim as mobile phone usage increased. Where men used their mobiles for more than four hours a day, researchers found a 30% drop in sperm motility or movement and viability when compared with men who did not use a mobile phone.

Scientists believe the study is too preliminary to prove an unequivocal link between mobile phones and falling sperm counts, but the work received a cautious welcome from other scientists who called for further studies to rule out other factors known to influence sperm quality, such as age, weight, smoking, stress and whether people had sedentary jobs. Ashok Agarwal, who presented his findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in New Orleans, stressed the study did not prove mobile phones were damaging male fertility, but urged scientists to investigate the possibility'

Read in full at Warning to male mobile phone users: chatting too long may cut sperm count

Sensor the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales...

NewScientistTech in Intelligent sensors watch for impending floods describes how a grid of smart river sensors will monitor water depth and flow and be used to predict impending flooding on a Yorkshire river:

'By producing more accurate and concise data than existing monitoring systems, the network could give locals and government decision-makers earlier warning of rising trouble. Two of thirteen sensor nodes have so far been installed along a kilometre stretch of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales, and the rest of the network should be in place by the end of the year. "The river floods regularly after Christmas every year," says Danny Hughes, a computer and environmental scientist at Lancaster University, UK, who is working on the project.

The final network will contain three kinds of sensor node. Eleven will measure pressure from below the waterline in order to determine depth. The other two will monitor the speed of river flow – one using ultrasound underwater, and the other using webcams to track objects and ripples moving along the surface, from the riverbank.

Each node is smaller than a human fist and powered by batteries and solar panels. Each is also accompanied by a computer unit about the size of a packet of chewing gum, which contains a processor about as powerful those found in a modern cellphone.'

Via Smartmobs

Train firm to issue phone tickets

BBCNews reports that train passengers will soon be able to buy tickets on their mobile phone: 'Chiltern Railways, which operates from London through Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire to the West Midlands, plans to deliver tickets to mobile phones. The new technology sends a barcode to a mobile phone via a text message, which passengers can then scan at the station ticket barrier.

Its hoped the method will make buying tickets easier for passengers and help reduce queues at stations. Neil Micklethwaite, commercial director for Chiltern Railways, said: "Mobile ticketing will mean easy purchases, anywhere, any time.'

Read at Train firm to issue phone tickets

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wi: Journal of the Mobile Digital Commons Network

Wi: Journal of the Mobile Digital Commons Network - is a new journal of the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN) and publishes the latest in Canadian mobilities research, encompassing disciplines such as design, engineering, computer science, communications and media studies:

'Currently focusing on the research work of MDCN projects, wi aims to expand its purview in the coming months to include other national and international scholarship, artistic productions and design research on mobility, wireless technologies, and digital media.

Our focus is broad, from the use of digital technologies in research to the definitions of mobile gaming in the commercial sphere. '

Mobile Society

There is a new website called Mobile Society which states itself to be an academic research website 'focusing on social aspects of the mobile phones' .

It has contributions from the likes of Rich Ling and Nicola Green, with a growing bibliography - something to keep an eye on!

Thanks to mobile-society@groups.google.com

UK-wide CCTV to beat rogue drivers

Another look at the rise of camera surveillance on British roads: in UK-wide CCTV to beat rogue drivers the Independent writes:

'Cameras aimed at cracking down on drivers who block box junctions or ignore road signs could be introduced country-wide.

The Government is considering rolling out the CCTV system, currently in use in London. Every council in Britain could have the cameras in less than a year. Drivers in London are fined up to £100 for stopping in a box junction or ignoring no-right-turn signs.'

More money for the coffers...

Friday, October 20, 2006

UK Motorway congestion charging

The Times reports how motorists will face congestion charges on some of Britain’s busiest motorways under government plans to reduce queues by charging by the mile at peak times:

'Douglas Alexander, the Transport Secretary, has asked the Highways Agency to identify a suitable section of the 4,800-mile strategic road network for a congestion-charging trial. The M25, London’s orbital motorway, is likely to be considered as it has the worst congestion and traffic is continuing to grow rapidly. A fourth lane is being added to the remaining three-lane sections and one option would be to charge for access to the new lane at peak times.

The trial would be a forerunner to a national charging scheme covering all roads, which the Government has said could be introduced around 2015. Congestion on motorways and A-roads would reduce by 34 per cent if charges of up to £1.34 a mile were introduced, according to a study published by the Department for Transport in 2004.'

I expect this pay-as-you-drive system will be a consequence of the Galileo satellite positioning system that EU is currently putting into place.

Read Congestion charging spreads to motorways

Tokens with the phone

The Guardian in Now you can go shopping with your mobile phone talks about a pilot project in Manchester to enter football games with only a phone:

'Manchester City fans are at the forefront of this predicted development: 200 season ticket holders are trialling a system through which they "show" their Nokia 3320 handset to an automatic reader to get into a game, instead of handing a card to a gate attendant. Within 12 to 18 months, claim handset makers, this Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows the handsets to buy and store low value electronic tokens (such as sport and transport tickets), will start being standard on new handsets. The Nokia 3320, used in the football trial, is already available and like the company's more rugged 5140i is NFC-capable - once a shell containing the necessary chips and mini-transmitter is fitted to the handset. Such capabilities will be shipped inside mobile phones from next year, Nokia predicts.'

Also in The Guardian - Why isn't there a text message version of 999? :

'Emergency 999 calls have become a feature of life in the UK since being introduced in 1937, but there is not yet a standard equivalent for texters. Some police forces do operate limited emergency SMS services, aimed at preregistered users with hearing and speech impairments. While it undoubtedly helps those individuals, such bureaucratic systems are not necessarily that useful in a tight spot.

And there are other problems with SMS, say those with experience. A spokesman for West Yorkshire police, which operates a text service, pointed out that messages cannot be prioritised by the mobile networks - thus raising the possibility that emergency communications may not arrive for several hours.'

Tagged Mail

CNet News relates in Australia Post tracks mail delivery using RFID how more than 12,000 radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are being used in letters every month to track the delivery of mail by Australia Post:

'The government business enterprise has replaced manual monitoring of mail delivery with RFID tags. In its annual report released Wednesday, Australia Post said RFID monitoring of mail came into effect in July after being run in parallel with manual monitoring for six months.

"We installed radio frequency identification technology that will enhance our ability to monitor our service performance and provide a better analysis of potential problems within our delivery network," the report said. Under the system, monitoring company Research International inserts RFID tags into "test letters" that can be tracked throughout the course of their journey.'

Question is - will it improve the service? Personally, I think all politicians should carry RFID tags...

Thanks to Smartmobs

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Immobility of desperation?

Well, trying to cross borders is where the immobility of mobility becomes a paramount juxtaposition. And here I thought it would be illustrative to show 2 pictures of desperation: known simply as "the chair guy"

Via Subtopia

Cartographic Oddities

Maybe its a question you've asked yourselves many times - I wonder how the world would look if....

Well, Strange Maps is a blog that focuses on odd maps, many that look on the world with redrawn boundaries or strange ideas. Includes examples of a redrawn map of the Middle East; Imperial Texas, Greater Albania or what Europe might have looked like (in French eyes) if the Germans had won the war. And more!

Via Cartographic Oddities

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Aviopolis is both a book about airports and a project about these 'cities of the future'. Artists Ross Harley and Gillian Fuller have photographed, videoed, and crafted text around the airport - their site Aviopolis is a recommended must see.

Aviopolis states that: 'Airports are cities of mobility. Their citizens are passengers who form a migratory population that must negotiate an infrastructure that is perpetually upgrading. The contemporary airport offers "laboratory conditions" to analyse the global interconnections of life in the information age.

Aviopolis is the first book-length critical study of how information, architecture, people and machines are converging into a new urban form dominated by logistics. The project presents a unique approach to the study of airports, blending cutting-edge cultural analysis with rich visual material. It will be of interest to all those concerned with current debates on globalisation, urbanism, information, architecture and the politics of mobility.'

See also Gillian Fuller's work on 'The Queue Project'

Mobiles 'to help track diseases'

BBCNews writes in Mobiles 'to help track diseases' how mobile phone technology is being developed to help manage the spread of diseases such as HIV and bird flu:

'The software is designed to allow field workers using handsets to send and receive data on disease outbreaks along with patient and drug information. The project is a collaboration between technology firm Voxiva and the trade association for mobile operators, GSMA.

Trials of the relatively low-cost application are underway in Rwanda, Africa and in Indonesia. The program works by sending the data through the general packet radio service (GPRS) network, and if this is unavailable, it can divert to an SMS data channel, normally used for text messages.

It is programmed using java language, so can work across different handsets and operators.'

A more appropriate use of mobile-tracking technologies.

Spy Drones over Liverpool City?

There were earlier reports that police were thinking of employing spy drones over Liverpool City (UK) in order to curb anti-social violence. Now that the 'word' got out the police have played down reports that spy planes could be flown high above the streets of Merseyside as a way to fight anti-social behaviour. According to the BBC:

'Merseyside Police's new anti-social behaviour (ASB) task force is exploring a number of technology-driven ideas. But while the use of surveillance drones is among them, they would be a "long way off", police said.

The squad's aim is to use any criminal or civil law available to help curb anti-social behaviour. A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: "The idea of the drone is a long way off, but it is about exploring all technological possibilities to support our war on crime and anti-social behaviour.

"What we have got here and now is a new task force using all legislation available to it, to stop the misery of anti-social behaviour, which is something that affects communities up and down the country." '

Read full at Police play down spy planes idea

Well... at least it shows that they were/are seriously considering the idea...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Europe to Purchase Hydrogen-Fueled Buses

Green Car Congress states that six cities and regions in Europe and Canada are joining forces to buy hydrogen-powered buses:

'Representatives of the partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding on purchasing the hydrogen-powered buses at the meeting of the Third General Assembly of the Europe Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform (HFP) in Brussels. The cooperating cities and regions are: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, British Columbia Province, Hamburg and London.

The European Commission voiced full support for the initiative as sending a strong signal to prospective suppliers that a potential market exists for the technology.'

Read Europe, Canada Ally to Purchase Hydrogen-Fueled Buses

Blog aims to record everyday life

BBC News posts in Blog aims to record everyday life how thousands of people across Britain are expected to contribute to a project aiming to create an online archive of a day in the life of the country. Sounds like a real blog-project?! The story is...

'The National Trust is encouraging people to record a diary of their day on a website, as part of what is being called "Britain's biggest blog". The blogs will then be stored by the British Library and at other locations.

The trust says it will create a "fascinating social history archive" of everyday life for future generations. Tuesday has been picked as an "ordinary day much like any other of no particular national significance". National Trust director general Fiona Reynolds said: "We want this day to have its own place in history and be a snapshot of everyday life at the beginning of the 21st Century.'

I wonder if soon most of our days can/will be recorded in similar ways - snapshots for the future - Life Caching

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bus Rapid Transit

Good news - the bus rapid transit system of Bogotá is getting some global recognition:

'This summer, the bus rapid transit system of Bogotá, Colombia, earned the distinction of being the world’s first mass transport project to be approved (PDF) for participation in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As such, it is a model for similar transport-related CDM initiatives in the pipeline worldwide. Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, Laos, Panama, and Peru are all establishing or planning mass transport systems based on rapid buses, according to the Andean Development Corporation, the multilateral financial institution that helped develop the bid.'

Read more on this from Worldchanging

Satellites to deliver Ultra Violet via SMS

Ah.. the futures so bright I gotta wear shades...! Or is it so bright that I need to wear protective cream?

Now, you can get the UV index sent to your mobile phone... isn't that smart?

'According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60,000 deaths are caused annually by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In 'Satellites help ensure safe sunning,' the European Space Agency (ESA) reports that a new service using its satellites can deliver the UV index to your cellphone via SMS. The Happy Sun Mobile (HSM) service also will advise about how to protect you and send you details about sea surface temperature and sea water transparency if you plan to dive. So far, the service is limited to Sardinia and Tuscany, Italy, but several operators will start to use it next summer...

...Thanks to an innovative service called HappySun, the UV Index can be delivered directly to mobile phones via SMS or can be accessed on the Internet. HappySun calculates the UV Index throughout the day by using ESA satellite data on radiation, ozone and cloud coverage. [...] "HappySun is a tool for the primary prevention of skin cancer," Franco Marsili, Director of the Dermatology Clinic at the Versilia Hospital in Italy, said. "The aim is to educate people about the intelligent 'use' of the sun."'

Via Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

More Airports With e-Passport Readers

Well, it seems that this airport issue is not going away soon! It appears that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that e-Passport readers are now in place and they are processing holders of e-Passports at additional airports, including Honolulu International Airport and Kona International Airport:

'Installation of the new readers is the next in a series of deployments that began at the San Francisco International Airport in September and will continue at U.S. airports through the next few weeks in preparation for an October 26, 2006, deadline requiring that U.S. ports of entry have the capability to compare and authenticate data in e-Passports issued by Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. Since deploying e-Passport readers at San Francisco International Airport three weeks ago, DHS has processed more than 1,944 e-Passports.

Deployment of e-Passport readers is another step in a process to further enhance the security of international travel documents while continuing to facilitate the flow of legitimate travel and trade to the United States. An e-Passport securely identifies the individual, defends against identity theft protects privacy and makes it difficult for individuals to cross borders using fraudulent documents.'

Read in full at More Airports With e-Passport Readers

Via Smartmobs

Friday, October 13, 2006

Air passengers 'could be tagged'

I wrote in an earlier post about the developments going into airport RFID tagging via boarding cards. It seems that this 'vision' is becoming further realised - even to the point of getting picked up by the national media!

BBC News reports in 'Air passengers 'could be tagged'':

'Electronically tagging passengers at airports could help the fight against terrorism, scientists have said. The prototype technology is to be tested at an airport in Hungary, and could, if successful, become a reality "in two years". The work is being carried out at a new research centre, based at University College London, set up to find technological solutions to crime...

"The basic idea is that airports could be fitted with a network of combined panoramic cameras and RFID (radio frequency ID) tag readers, which would monitor the movements of people around the various terminal buildings."

The plan, he said, would be for each passenger to be issued with a tag at check-in.
He said: "In our system, the location can be detected to an accuracy of 1m, and video and tag data could be merged to give a powerful surveillance capability." '

Mobility will no longer be a given...

Clever Cars

NewScientistTech report on 'Clever cars shine at intelligent transport conference' tells how smart vehicles under development are sensoring their own safety and parking:

'Smart vehicles capable of following the flow of traffic, parking themselves and even warning drowsy or distracted drivers to pay attention to the road are among the highlights of the Transport Systems World Congress, which takes place this London, UK, this week.

One of the recurring themes of the show is vehicle intelligence, and the inventions on display range from unfinished prototypes to models already on the market in Japan.

A prototype system developed by German company Ibeo enables a car to automatically follow the vehicle ahead. At the press of a button an infrared laser scanner in the car's bumper measures the distance to the next vehicle and a computer maintains a safe distance, stopping and starting if it becomes stuck in traffic.'

In a related matter of interest - just how many cars are in the world? Well...

Physics Factbook began collecting stats on car ownership in 1900, when somewhere between 4,142 and 8000 passenger cars existed in the United States (the only country to manufacture cars at that time). In 1985, there were 375 million passenger cars and 109 million commercial vehicles worldwide. Just 85 short years resulted in 6 million percent growth!

A 1997 report claimed that in that year, over 600 million motor vehicles existed in the world. It went on to predict that if the existing trends continued, that number would double in the next 30 years. So in 2030, we could see 1.2 billion cars - thought parking was bad now?

Mobilities, Networks, Geographies

A new book to be of interest to those following mobilities: 'Mobilities, Networks, Geographies' by Jonas Larsen, John Urry and Kay Axhausen, Ashgate 2006.

This is a substantially revised version of the report 'Social Networks and Future Mobilities' commissioned by the UK Department of Transport submitted in early 2006. The 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. It examines five interdependent mobilities that form and reform these geographies of networks and travel in the contemporary world.

Chapters include: Researching Networks and Travel: An introduction; Social Networks; Meetings and Networks; Mobilities; Research Design; Geographies of Networks and Mobilities; Travel and Meetings; Coordinating Networks and Travel; and Research and Policy Futures.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Future of Migration - Part Two

Part 2 of YaleGlobal Online two-part series on the future of migration, economist Lant Pritchett argues that the forces building up to another wave of mass migration face opposition in the form of ideas:

'Simply put, he says, "the primary reason there is not more migration is that the citizens of the industrialized world don't want it." People in the industrialized world - the main destination for migrants - often believe that their own poor would suffer if cheaper foreign labor were allowed in. Another idea they hold is that trade in goods is sufficient to create a convergence of incomes worldwide. Yet, Pritchett notes, there is no evidence that this is the case. In addition, he writes, the notion that sending enough aid to poor countries could obviate the need for increasing immigration is also unsubstantiated. The democratic rich countries' approach, which consists of promoting equality within their own nations while disregarding the suffering of people in poor countries, is another point of resistance to immigration.'

Read full here

Mobile phone parking payments

This article Westminster to trial mobile phone parking payments looks at how Westminster Council has become the latest borough to trial cashless parking payments, with drivers in central London able to purchase tickets with a mobile phone:

'Drivers in the busy West End and on Harrow Road can pay with a phone call or text message from today as part of the six-month trial.They can also top up parking fees without returning to the car, thereby avoiding an encounter with the area's wardens.

Parking attendants can check that the correct payment has been made using a handheld computer, meaning no proof of purchase is required.'

Fancy being mobile-surveyed by traffic wardens? Sorry... parking attendents!

Thanks to Smartmobs

Digital Planet October 9 2006

In this week's Digital Planet: security risks to our home computers - finding out about super passwords and how many companies are not updating these regularly leaving themselves vulnerable to attack.

Learn more about hackers - do they fit the stereotype? Researchers are trying to discover exactly the type of person who likes the challenge of breaking into someone else's machine.

And air traffic controllers texting pilots - at first glance perhaps not the safest of options but at the Eurocontrol centre in Maastricht this alternative to radio communication is being tested and is proving very useful.

Download here

Drives to Ethanol

Toyota it seems is not satisfied with developing hybrid electrical cars or even hydrogen fuel cells - its latest innovative developments are in cars that run on 100% ethanol:

'The Japanese company, now the second-biggest automaker in the world, will come out with a car in Brazil in Spring 2007 that can run on 100 percent ethanol, as well as on a blend of gas and ethanol...

...The pricing and the name of the car have not been revealed yet, he added. Brazil is a natural spot to launch the car. Brazilians produce ethanol there from sugar cane, and a number of gas stations sell it.'

Read full article at CNET News

Monday, October 09, 2006

Car Transportation Problems?

Car Transportation Problems? In that case, check-out 'Ele-Car Corporation'. According to their webpage:

'The revolutionary Ele-Car Personal Transportation System will use privately-owned vehicles called Ele-CarsTM which will be about the size of family cars, but very lightweight and self-elevating. That is, the Ele-Cars will quickly raise themselves from the ground to an overhead guideway, and then they will travel non-stop to their destination. When they arrive, they will lower themselves back down to the ground again. The System will retain the advantages of the car and road system - there will be no need to walk to a transit stop and wait, or to change from one vehicle to another.

The Single-Mode Ele-Cars will be very low cost. They will travel only on the guideway at speeds up to 110 kph (68 mph). They will operate automatically, so no driver will be needed. The Dual-Mode Ele-Cars, however, will be capable of being driven on roads to a nearby guideway, where they will also travel automatically. Their maximum road speed will be limited to 60 kph (37 mph).'

Is this a viable alternative? Comments please...

First Responders Can Tag Victims For Tracking

In 'First Responders Can Tag Victims For Tracking' is discussed the emergency relief concept of tracking victims of injury from the scene of the accident to the hospital:

'The governments of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany in the last few weeks have been reviewing a system to wirelessly track disaster victims from the scene of the incident to the hospital. Only Belgium has been piloting a customized version of the Victim Tracking and Tracing Systems (ViTTS) that includes RFID technology.'

Read full here

Via Smartmobs

Map smokes out people hooked on cigarette habit

Another great mapping event from the TimesOnline - here they show how smokers can be map-lighted through online nicotine traces... 'the distribution of smokers across England, showing the areas where people are the most dependent on nicotine, is revealed today as part of a service designed to encourage smokers to quit. An online map compares the proportion of smokers to the level of economic and social deprivation among more than 8,000 electoral wards.

The map, published online by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the anti-smoking pressure group, is based on estimates of smoking rates and a government index measuring deprivation, and indicates a strong correlation between smoking and poverty.'

The maps are available at www.ash.org.uk/html/mappingproject/mappingproject.html

Read article at Map smokes out people hooked on cigarette habit

Even smokers aren't safe now...

Maps and advertising

The TimesOnline has provided a post on online maps and advertising titled 'Mapvertising' which recognises the growth in the use of online maps for navigation:

'You plan your car journeys with MapQuest. You nose around property values through map-based websites such as OnOneMap.com. You even track your favourite celebrities’ movements in almost-real time by logging on to user-annotated mash-ups of Google Maps. So why wouldn’t the ad industry see you as a lost opportunity?

With web traffic to online mapping sites growing by around 20 per cent a year, and 85 per cent of us saying we use them, these sites have become the latest hot properties for marketers. The ad agency Universal McCann calls the emerging trend "mapvertising".'

Of course, target advertising has been growing around us for some time now...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Real learning in a virtual world

More from the fascinating developments from the virtual world of Second Life. This time some foresighted educators are moving classes into this virtual world - From The Christian Science Monitor:

'Some 60 schools and universities have set up shop inside Second Life - most in the past year. They join a population that includes real-world business people, politicians, entertainers, and more than 800,000 other "residents" of the virtual world.

For the first time this fall, a Harvard University class is meeting on its own "Berkman Island" within Second Life (SL).

...Some 90 Harvard law and extension school students taking the course, called "CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion," can receive real college credit. But anyone on earth with a computer connection can also take the course for free. Students are participating from as far away as South Korea and China.'

Via Smartmobs

The Future of Migration

Yale Global Online is producing a series of articles on The Future of Migration:

'Immigration is an issue that elicits heated views from all sides of the political and economic spectrum. In the 21st century, how might we expect our lives and societies to be affected by changes in immigration? In Part One of a two-part series, economist Lant Pritchett argues that there are five irresistible forces setting the world up for a new wave of mass migration. Topping the list are the huge cross-national inequalities in wages and standards of living. Differences in labor demand across countries comprise another pressure promoting migration. Population growth imbalances also contribute to the trend, with aging populations of wealthy countries needing younger workers to help support national pension plans. The fourth trend Pritchett points to is the growing interconnectedness of the world. In a system that allows for increased flow of goods, he says, increasing labor flow would enhance global prosperity . Finally, he notes, more and more jobs are not 'mobile', but rather location-specific, like nurses and retail salespeople.'

Read - The Future of Migration - Part One

Invisible drones

NewScientistTech has a piece on Invisible Drones that talks about a new Phantom Sentinel aircraft that is Y-shaped and... yes - possibly invisible:

'"Persistence of vision" turns the fast-moving rotors of any helicopter into a near-transparent blur, while the slow-moving body looks solid. Inventor Michael Dammar has come up with a way of making the whole body of an aircraft spin as it flies, turning it into a single blur in the sky. This would not evade radar but should help the aircraft avoid visual identification.

The so-called Phantom Sentinel aircraft is Y-shaped, consisting of a single long wing attached to two short aerodynamic extensions which each end in a propeller. And the weight is carefully balanced so that the centre of mass is positioned between the two extensions. When the motors are running, the solid part of the aircraft spins around this centre of mass, and the longer wing generates lift. The whole thing moves so fast that persistence of vision turns it into a single blur.'

Well - more a blur than invisible then...!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Insurance car tracker will be spy for police

The TimesOnline has a piece today titled 'Insurance car tracker will be spy for police'that tells of how police will be able to tell whether drivers who crash were speeding by checking the black boxes that are to be fitted to thousands of cars by Britain’s biggest insurance company:

'Norwich Union is installing satellite tracking devices to customers’ cars so that it can charge them an insurance fee for each mile they travel. Rather than paying a fixed annual premium, drivers will pay different rates according to when and how far they travel.

Those who drive between midnight and 5am and from 7am to 10am will pay a higher rate because the company has calculated that crashes are more likely to happen during these periods. The system uses satellite positioning to check a car’s location throughout its journey. The information will show how fast a vehicle was travelling before a crash and whether it was accelerating or decelerating. Police will also be able to check a motorist’s behaviour during an entire journey to see whether there is any evidence of speeding or aggressive driving.'

And this is how it starts! Then the Insurance companies will provide the information to state/private databanks and soon other major insurance companies will follow.... very unsettling...

Penn Humanities Forum: Travel in a World of Contradiction

The Penn Humanities Forum: Travel in a World of Contradiction has a series of upcoming events relevant to those interested in mobilities. The calender has the following events for this autumn (or Fall):

October 4 | Colin Thubron
Shadow of the Silk Road

October 11 | Paul Gepts
Global Climate Change and Agriculture

October 25 | Caryl Phillips
Dr. S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities
Border Crossings

November 1 | Sara Dickinson
Dashkova's Grand Tour

November 15 | Alison Stones
Travel and the Santiago Pilgrimage

December 6 | Joel Garreau
The Santa Fe-ing of America?

New Politics Institute on Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics

The New Politics Institute, a progressive thinktank, has issued a report on Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics (PDF):

'Any majority political movement of the early 21st century will need to connect to the massive young generation of Millennials, and the booming population of Hispanics. Both groups are among the top users of mobile phone media.
The development of mobile media is not going to take place in the distant future. As this report points out, mobile media has already proven to have big political impacts in other countries, and it played a key role in the immigration demonstrations all over the United States this spring. Now is the time for progressive political practitioners to
start to engage this new technology and media. The report ends with seven concrete steps to begin mastering this new world. The very first step, though, is to get an overview of the whole booming field by reading this comprehensive paper. It is filled with startling facts and figures that will help even those who think they understand what is going on:

Did you know that mobile video services already reach more users than the 8th largest cable operator in the country? That by 2008 as many as 30 percent of wireless phone users will not own a land line? (What will political pollsters do?) That last year U2’s Bono got 800,000 people to sign up for the One Campaign to eradicate poverty by sending a text message through their mobile phones at his concerts?'

Via Smartmobs

Mobile phones help check drunk driving in Japan

Smartmobs reports on "a mobile phone with a breath analyser is getting popular among transport firms in Japan as it can help the companies conduct tele-checks on the drivers' breath to prevent drunk driving. The system, developed by a major mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo Inc, has been introduced to 15 companies since its launch about three months ago. Dozens more bus and transport companies also mull buying it, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Sunday. To use it, the driver first makes a video-phone call to his or her company and breathes into the analyzer connected to the phone. The video image showing the driver blowing into the analyzer and data regarding the alcohol concentration on his or her breath are transmitted to the firm and confirmed by the computer there".

Read article at 'Mobile phones help check drunk driving in Japan'

Moving towards self-reflexive safety...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Future of the Internet II Pew Study

The latest Pew Report titled 'The Future of the Internet II Pew Study' is a survey of internet leaders, activists, and analysts who make predictions for 2020:

'- A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new opportunities in a “flattening” world.

- Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more activity is automated and “smart agents” proliferate. However, a significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans’ ability to control the technology in the future. This significant majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major surprises in the survey.

- Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker productivity and also spawn new addiction problems.

- Tech “refuseniks” will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of violence and terror against technology-inspired change.

- People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy.

- English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence'

You can read the entire report here as a PDF file.

Via Smartmobs

The future of shopping... with your mobile

This RFID in Japan article discusses how mobile phones and RFID tags are being piloted in retail stores:

'NTT DoCoMo recently developed a system that utilizes mobile phones and RFID tags to monitor and infer people's behaviors and deliver relevant information.

The system uses mobile phones that have the RFID reader capability. Those RFID reader phones read tags embedded in retail stores, for example, and the software running on the phones sends out information such as the stores people visited. Then the system infers people's behavirs and deliver information based on the inference results.

The system will be tested at Takashimaya department store in Yokohama, from September 13 till September 26. The system will for example recommend shoppers the next shops to visit or suggest to take a rest etc. (via SMS messages)'

Would you like your phone to suggest to you when to take a rest?! Cheeky...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

WiFi Active RFID Tag

An article doing the rounds in the Japanese media says:

'Hitachi Ltd. today announced its release of the industry's first AirLocation II Tag-w, a WiFi active RFID tag for wireless LAN position detection and management of people entering and leaving buildings, which also features an emergency message function.The combined features enable thorough and precise management of people entering a building and information about the position of individuals within. In emergencies, the emergency message function allows users to send a message to the control center, automatically informing disaster relief officials of their whereabouts.'

Again, it shows the immersion of these tracking technologies into everyday civil life.

Via Smartmobs

The latest 'Carnival of the Mobilists'

This week's Carnival of the Mobilists No 47 is hosted over at Communities Dominate Brands - run by Tomi Ahonen and Alan Moore.

The Carnival of the Mobilists is a weekly collection of the best blogs about mobile telecoms topics, hosted always at a different host site. You can find the schedule for upcoming Carnivals at this site www.mobili.st

Drive with Upstairs Connections

LabConfidential has a post titledDrive with Upstairs Connections (flashplayer required)where they talk about the developing trend in motor positioning systems:

'This is your GPS with the motoring news--Imagine what it would be like to drive a car that knows the way and every short-cut and also finds a way around each and every traffic jam. Any car equipped with a satellite navigation system will comply with the first two requests, whereas the third one does seem to call for a sixth sense, or some sort of arrangement with the man upstairs -- or does it? Next year we shall namely see Dash Navigation Inc. launching the first GPS unit ever to retrieve real-time traffic data from the Net, and this should smooth the path to your destination.'

Worth a quick read...

Poverty Atlas

Cartography discusses a Poverty Atlas:

'The Center for International Earth Science Information Network has released an atlas entitled Where the Poor Are: An Atlas of Poverty. The atlas, available as a pdf download, covers a number of aspects of poverty including infnat mortality, hunger, poverty gaps and inequality and looks at these factors on both a global, regional and national scale, the latter being broken down by subnational jurisdictions to varying degrees of refinement. The maps are mostly choropleth maps. The atlas can also be requested in hard copy format.'

Read more

Digital Planet October 2 2006

This week's Digital Planet sees Gareth Mitchell finding out more about e-waste and what is being done to safely dispose of the vast amounts of technological rubbish that's produced when making the latest gadgets. And Jonathan Kent investigates how Microsoft is making Windows Vista more secure. James Gordon tells us about the latest innovations unveiled at the NextFest exhibition in New York and Jon Stewart tries to Skype the programme from Dubai, without much success.

Download here

Monday, October 02, 2006

Overclocking the City,

Worldchanging reports on the recent Breaking the Game conference thatexplored the ways in which technology is transforming urbanity or "overclocking the city":

'"[A]n emerging group of artists [is] deploying sensors, hand-held electronics, and faster Internet connections are developing projects that actively intervene in the shaping and reshaping of public spaces in contemporary cities. They are integrating digital technology into buildings in order to make them adaptive and responsive to the flows of human activity and environmental forces... They are scanning the unseen electromagnetic spectrum that surrounds specific places, and turning these data into compelling audio/visual experiences that both heighten and change our perception... Using PDAs and portable laptops connected wirelessly to databases, some artists are creating alternative social maps, counter-histories and individually annotated narratives about local populations in specific neighborhoods... Still others are using mobile social software to coordinate large numbers of bodies for political action; or devising playful and imaginary spaces within the city.... We don't have to leave or disconnect from physical space in order to connect to digital spaces. Artists, architects, technologists, urban planners, and others are recombining the two, connecting individuals and groups together at a variety of scales and intensities."'

Read post

Spying Technology!

The New York Times covers an interesting conference in 'Technology for Spying Lures More Than Military'. In perhaps what is the biggest type of gathering of this kind, around 20,000 'experts in the business' meet in San Diego to check out the latest in high-tech surveillance gadgets and discuss undercover investigations, background checks and interrogation techniques:

'But many of those attending the ASIS International “Maximum Security” conference will not be there on behalf of the United States government or the military. They work for corporate America, where security is a big and sometimes controversial business, as the executives of Hewlett-Packard have found in the wake of revelations of a covert-operations spying scandal that the company conducted against its own directors and journalists.

Companies worldwide spent an estimated $95 billion on security last year, according to the Freedonia Group, a market research firm in Cleveland. While that’s a broad figure that includes spending on emergency planning in case of a terrorist attack and protecting corporate records from hackers, an increasing portion went to high-tech equipment like spyware and specialized data-mining software that was deployed in-house so companies could better see what their own employees were up to.'

Perhaps more academics should be attending in order to protect their research freedoms as well as learning more appropriate methods for obtaining field material?

Vehicle Navigation Service with Net Access

Nissan the car manufacturer has now come up with Vehicle Navigation Service with Net Access according to TechnologyNewsDaily:

' Nissan Ltd. will introduce a new CARWINGS navigation service that allows drivers to hear Internet information while driving, the world’s first such service. The new Internet navigation service will be available to subscribers this autumn in Japan.

CARWINGS is Nissan’s original telematics service and is exclusive to the Japanese market.

The new internet service allows subscribers to retreive information from a limited number of Internet sites, including Yahoo! Japan, Sony’s So-net lifestyle blog and Nissan Drive Navi, a Nissan travel guide blog. The service automatically transforms information from the Internet (RSS format) into a user-friendly format that can be viewed on a vehicle navigation monitor.

Drivers have to select the Internet sites when the vehicle in parking mode. Once the car is in motion, the system will automatically retrieve information from the pre-programmed Internet sites and a voice function will read out the contents, making it possible to receive information even while driving.'

Via Smartmobs

Why We Need An X Prize for Eco-Friendly Air Travel

In this persuasive post from Worldchanging titled 'Why We Need An X Prize for Eco-Friendly Air Travel' they discuss the rapid growth of air travel and its pollutive effects:

'While air travel contributes only 3% of humanity's total CO2 emissions (making them a problem only a few times larger than, say, coal fires), air travel is growing at an astounding rate. And while engines are growing more efficient, planes are also getting larger and flights more frequent, meaning that air travel may effectively undo many of the gains so far made in cutting CO2:

Friends of the Earth commissioned a study from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to work out what growth of 6.4% a year (its average through the 1990s) would mean for Britain over the next 40-50 years. It concluded that the total CO2 discharges from air-traffic would soon offset all the reductions in carbon emissions scheduled under British government policies to comply with Kyoto. The European Commission (presumably neutral on such matters) accepts that, by 2012, the growth in aviation would offset more than a quarter of the reductions that its richer members hoped for

Furthermore, for a variety of reasons having to do with chemical emissions and contrail formation (the white "tails" jets leave behind them), it turns out that airplanes have a climate impact that's actually 2-4 times greater than their CO2 emissions alone would indicate.'

More to read on this - see full post