Friday, May 29, 2009

Camera grid to log number plates

A national network of cameras and computers automatically logging car number plates will be in place within months, according to this BBC post:

Thousands of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are already operating on Britain's roads.Police forces across England, Wales and Scotland will soon be able to share the information on one central computer.

Officers say it is a useful tool in fighting crime, but critics say the network is secretive and unregulated.Kent's Chief Constable, Michael Fuller, commented: "We've seen an increase of some 40% of arrests since we've been using this technology.

"I'm very confident that we're using it properly and responsibly, and that innocent people have nothing to fear from the way we use it."

A number of local councils are signing up their Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems to the ANPR network. As long as the cameras are technically good enough, they can be adapted to take the software.

Well, not a complete surprise... just another rung on the ladder towards Total Awareness (similar to the US program); yet using the issue of personal mobility as the 'vehicle'.

Read more at - 'Camera grid to log number plates'


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AFTER THE CAR - Now published!


Finally the book has hit the streets... and currently sits in various off-line and on-line stores:

• A provocative exploration of a possible future without the car, from two leading sociologists.
• Examines the impact of global warming, global population increases and the peaking of oil supplies, among other things, on the future of how we travel.
• Argues that there will come a time in the future where, by necessity, the present car system will be‘re-designed’ and‘re-engineered’.
• After The Car will interest sociologists, policy makers, industry, as well as the general reader. It will be of interest to every ‘car user’.

Let us hope the book gains some mobility through human energy!

And any reviews would be welcome...


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Amsterdam Schiphol airport has taken delivery of an electric car

Some good news in that an airport is trying to compensate for its energy pollution by introducing electric cars. Here's the news:

Amsterdam Schiphol airport has taken delivery of an electric car. The Th!nk City vehicle will be test-driven by employees of the airport for the next twelve months. If the electric car proves successful, the airport plans to buy more. An electric re-charging point has been installed outside the head office of the Schiphol Group.

The electric carAccording to an official statement "Amsterdam Schiphol Airport places great value on the introduction of sustainable transport as a contribution towards the improvement of air quality". The electric car isn't the first environmentally-friendly vehicle at the airport. Since May 2008, electric scooters have been used on the airfield, and ten percent of the wagons at Schiphol use biodiesel.

The Th!nk City is an urban car with an electric motor of about 40 hp which runs on sodium or lithium batteries. It has a top speed of around 100 km per hour and can travel up to 180 km on a single charge.

Schiphol wants its own activities to be climate neutral by 2012. By 2020 the airport hopes to provide at least 20 percent of its energy needs though the generation of sustainable energy.

Read original article here - 'Amsterdam Schiphol airport has taken delivery of an electric car' - (thanks to RA!)


Monday, May 18, 2009

Doctors of Tomorrow

Now it seems that family doctoring is going Facebook style into online networking. A new neighbourhood doctor outfit called Hello Health says on their website:

"Once upon a time, going to your doctor was simple. You knew his first name, or perhaps just called him 'Doc'. He lived just down the street and made house calls. And if you were sick, you would see him that day, because, well, you were sick. Then things started to change. Although medicine has made some amazing advances in keeping us healthy, we now have to contend with dietitians, insurance premiums, running shoes, deductibles, HMOs,OTC drugs, specialists, fat-free salad dressing, and therapists. Daunting, isn't it? But don't worry, we've made going to the doctor easy again". Hello Health combines the virtues of the old-fashioned neighbourhood doctor, with new tech platforms. "We love technology, the Internet, and especially our iPhones", say Hello Health; "You can talk to us like you're talking to a friend: through
emails, texts, phone calls, instant messages, or face-to-face conversations. Also, everything's online, from making appointments to accessing your records. It also helps we're close by, living and working in your neighborhood". Anyway, the whole thing is quite brilliant - and to cap it all, Hello Health's principal communication platform is a video on YouTube:


Friday, May 15, 2009

Social Innovation Camp

The organisers of Social Innovation Camp claim that it is 'an experiment in creating social innovations for the digital age', and they are currently looking for the best ideas for web-based tools that can change stuff that matters. A camping weekend in Glasgow brings together some of the best of the UK's software developers and designers with those at the sharp end of social problems. Their mission is to turn six back-of-the-envelope ideas that could change the world into social start-ups - complete with working software. And all in under 48 hours - and there's only one week to go!!:

You’ve got until Friday 22nd May 2009 to send us your idea that uses the web to create social change and you could be joining 100 other participants to try and make it a reality.

And this week, we’re really pleased to be able to announce some of our prizes for the weekend.

At the end of each Social Innovation Camp, we run a Show and Tell where everyone pitches what they’ve built in the weekend.

We’ll be awarding some prizes to the ideas we think have shown most promise. And this time around, we’re lucky enough to be supported by our partners Firstport, IfLooksCouldKill and O Street.

Go to their website


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The future does not have a driver

It seems that driverless public transport is the new hype in the Netherlands, and Rotterdam has the scoop for so far!

A driverless suttle bus in Rotterdam follows a magnetic strip embedded in a concrete roadway.    Photo Dirk-Jan Visser A driverless suttle bus in Rotterdam follows a magnetic strip embedded in a concrete roadway. Photo Dirk-Jan Visser

The main disadvantage of public transport is that it requires drivers, and the driver is not only the most expensive but also the most dangerous part of the equation. "Computers are cheaper, they never get tired and they are much better drivers," says Jan van Dijke of the Dutch research institute TNO Automotive. "Nine out of ten traffic incidents are the result of human error."

Van Dijke is in charge of the European Citymobil project, which studies the advantages of driverless public transport, among other things. One current experiment is in Rotterdam, where for the past few weeks a driverless bus has been shuttling passengers from the Kralingse Zoom metro station to the Rivium industrial zone. The shuttle is a miracle of efficiency and punctuality. It follows a magnetic strip embedded in a concrete roadway. The shuttle started running four years ago but the project was halted after a frontal crash, which the technicians assure was due to human error.

Driverless public transport is on the rise in many other places. Amsterdam plans to do away with metro operators from 2014.

Read more from original article here (thanks to RA)


Monday, May 11, 2009

The city and the crowd

Here's an interesting video-post from over at Space & Culture that looks at early city film montage from 1928:

The city montage from King Vidor’s 1928 silent film, The Crowd

The montage of the busy city streets, enormous crowds, and speeding trains that is Johnny’s introduction to New York City is frantic and a bit awe-inspiring, especially the great shot that climbs the side of the building where Johnny works. Many of the crowd shots were done with a hidden camera, and in one scene, when a traffic cop seems to tell us to move along, he was actually instructing Vidor and his crew to move.”

From 'The city and the crowd'


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Virgin Galactic’s Test Flight

Looks like Wired's 'Autopia' managed to get its hands onto Virgin Galactic's latest - so the trip's still on! (if you can afford it, of course)


Space junkies and wannabe astronauts rejoice - we’ve got exclusive video of Virgin Galactic’s recent test flight in the Mojave. got its mitts on the first official cockpit video and other footage from the recent test of Virgin Mothership Eve at the Scaled Composites skunkworks operation in sunny SoCal. Scaled Composites and Virgin tend to keep the test results hush-hush but say “several recent published articles have been sufficiently inaccurate and negative” to make them “set the record straight.”

They could be referring to reports by FlightGlobal that VMS Eve, the prototype of the White Knight 2 that took to the air, suffered a tail strike during an April 20 flight and experienced rudder problems. Scaled Composites, in a statement (.pdf), called the test “very successful” and said, “we only needed to adjust the rudder forces.”

Read more here - Virgin Galactic’s Test Flight


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another EV supercar

It seems that the Silicon Valley trend for expensive EV supercars continues...


Another day, another start-up promising an electric car with awesome range.

This time it’s EV Innovations, the same guys behind the Inzio electric supercar we told you about a few weeks back. The Inzio is billed as a Tesla-beater and has a $139,000 price to match. That’s a lot of scratch, which is why the company says it’s working on an electric commuter car that’ll carry a $34,000 sticker price when it goes into limited production in a year.

It’s called the Wave, and EV Innovations says it will have a range of up to 170 miles and a top speed of 80 mph. That’s a bit shy of the top speed claimed by the Aptera 2e. But Ron Cerven, director of product development at EV Innovations, says anything the Wave gives up to the Aptera in terms of speed it makes up for in size.

Read here for more -Riding the EV Wave


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Energy and equity: a beginner's guide to designing a zero carbon transport system

An inaugural lecture to be given at York University byProfessor John Whitelegg on 18th May 2009. Anyone can attend and it will also be streamed on the Internet. Those people familiar with Whitelegg's work will know he has been involved for many years in campaigning for better designed transport systems in terms of urban renewal and energy.

Title: Energy and equity: a beginner's guide to designing a zero carbon transport system

Abstract: Currently there are about 750 million vehicles on the planet. A prominent German forecasting organisation has predicted this will rise to 2.3 billion by 2030. Ivan Illich wrote "Energy and Equity" in 1974 and demonstrated the absurdity of our dependence on oil for routine daily trips and the illogicality of human behaviour devoting 1600 hours each year to service the demands of the car in order to travel 7500 miles at an average speed of 5mph. 25 years later the absurdities noted by Illich are now global and intensifying with very large year on year increases in car ownership and use in India and China. Each day our global mobility requires 5.8 million tonnes of oil and kills 3000 mainly poor and non-motorised citizens. This is expensive and requires very large public subsidy and is intimately linked with poor health outcomes ranging from obesity to hospital admissions as a result of poor air quality. This inaugural lecture explores the intimate geography of oil dependent transport, its global trends, its links with climate change and peak oil and explains its grip on society and decision makers and charts a new transport revolution that at a low cost will deliver socially just accessibility to our destinations at a zero carbon cost.

Venue - University of York, P/L001 Physics 1730 on 18th May 2009