Friday, January 25, 2013

UK - Glasgow awarded £24 million to become a smart city

The BBC reported that the UK government had awarded Glasgow a £24m grant intended to make it one of the country's first smart cities.
It will use the money on projects to demonstrate how a city of the future might work.

They will include better services for Glaswegians, with real-time information about traffic and apps to check that buses and trains are on time.

The council will also create an app for reporting issues such as potholes and missing bin collections.

Other services promised by the council include linking up the CCTV cameras across the city with its traffic management unit in order to identify traffic incidents faster.

It will use analytical software and security cameras to help identify and prevent crime in the city and monitor energy levels to find new ways of providing gas and electricity to poorer areas where fuel poverty is a big issue.

Scott Cain, the project leader for Future Cities at the UK Technology Strategy Board said:
Glasgow has some quite extreme challenges - it has the lowest life expectancy of any city in the UK for instance - and the hope is that if we bring together energy, transport, public safety and health it will make it more efficient and a better place to live.

The thinking behind it is to have somewhere in the UK where firms can look at the efficiencies, the investments and how you can address the challenges of a city

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council:
This is a huge boost to Glasgow’s ambitions to build a better future for our city and its people. This investment and the work we will be doing will put us at the forefront of innovative and smart cities not just in the UK but in Europe and beyond.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde:
We are delighted to welcome this major investment in Glasgow. The University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre will host the revolutionary City Observatory. This will allow academic and business and industry researchers to analyse more than 200 information feeds about Glasgow – its health, economy, transport, energy use – to map the relationships between them and to understand how a 21st century city operates.

Aberdeenshire - Postcard survey on home without broadband and seeking broadband or just faster connections

The Deeside Piper and Herald reports that the Council is surveying broadband.
Aberdeenshire Council is issuing broadband survey postcards to all addresses within the area as part of the council’s work with Scottish Government to access funding to improve Aberdeenshire’s broadband coverage.

Aberdeenshire Council has already agreed to contribute up to £18million to improve broadband services in the area but it must provide evidence of demand from residents and businesses in order to be in the best position to access additional funding from the Scottish Government.

Residents are being urged to complete and return the postcards to demonstrate that demand exists by Thursday, February 28.

It is claimed that 17 per cent of addresses have no broadband connection because of infrastructure constraints. Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee Councillor Peter Argyle said:
It is important that residents and businesses help us secure the additional Government funding by returning their broadband survey postcards. They simply need to give their name and postcode and tick one box indicating whether they would like their broadband to be faster, or whether they would like a broadband service if they do not currently receive it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Strathclyde - Opening of a White Space research centre

Cable co reports the inauguration of the Centre for White Space Communications (CWSC) at the University of Strathclyde, with initial support from the Scottish Funding Council.
White space technologies take advantage of the unused spectrum gaps between existing digital TV channels. By engaging with the industry, the centre hopes to extend services beyond the current spectrum bands and boost efficiency, ultimately leading to improved wireless broadband connectivity.

Friday, January 18, 2013

USA - FCC Chairman calls for Gigabit broadband speeds in all states by 2015

C¦net reports the FCC Chairman calling for much faster broadband.
The Federal Communications Commission's chairman, Julius Genachowski, wants to see gigabit speed broadband services in all 50 states by 2015. At a meeting of U.S. mayors in Washington, D.C., today, Genachowski called on municipal leaders and service providers to deploy gigabit speed broadband in at least one community in each of the 50 states in the next two to three years. Genachowski said that by participating in the "Gigabit City Challenge" communities would turn themselves into innovation hubs that would create valuable jobs for its citizens.
He was quoted as saying:
American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come. The U.S. needs a critical mass of gigabit communities nationwide so that innovators can develop next-generation applications and services that will drive economic growth and global competitiveness.

See also the text of his speech.

Monday, January 7, 2013

UK - Think tank argues for a switch away from speed targets to helping those not online

The Policy Exchange has published a report The Superfast and the Furious: Priorities for the future of UK broadband policy that argues:
that politicians have become overly focused on broadband speeds. The internet is central to modern life, and next generation fixed and mobile broadband are unquestionably vitally important for the economy. But the case for spending any more taxpayers' money to subsidise very fast connectivity is weak.

The report suggests an end to government subsidies for broadband infrastructure once current commitments are reached in 2015. Instead the government should focus on helping the 10.8 million people not online - half of whom are over 65 - and do more to help small businesses make the most of the opportunities presented by the internet.

Chris Yiu, author of the report:
"Successive governments have been right to invest public money in basic broadband connectivity. The government's current spending plans will extend fast broadband to the vast majority of people. Any further public money should be spent on making sure we are putting this to good use. It's far from clear that your taxes should help to pay for me to have an even faster connection.

There is no doubt that broadband, both fixed and wireless, makes a major contribution to the economy. But the right person to decide how much speed your family or business needs is you – not the government.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

UK - Teenagers without web access are 'educationally disadvantaged'

Wired reports that teenagers without web access are 'educationally disadvantaged'.
Interviews with students revealed a range of problems faced by those without internet access. Some have to ask friends or family to print off coursework and physically post it to them, while others are only able to do their work during school hours so have to rush everything. The same tools that helped students with homework were also social tools, like MSN Messenger, so students who felt left out educationally were also likely to feel left out socially.

The benefits of having web tools available were found to outweigh the risks. Interestingly, in their interviews with 200 of the teenagers the researchers found that there was no perception that web use was impairing their ability to concentrate on work. That was in direct contrast to the experience of parents, who frequently "despaired" at the sight of their kids multitasking on multiple devices and using social networks they didn't understand.

This was based on a study from Oxford University's Department of Education (see press release).