Sustainable Electro-Motive

I’m attending the Eden Project Communities Camp this May and that’s where I hope to talk about Sustainable Electro-Motive.

This project ties several interests into one whole. One part is working with my friend Stuart and his extracurricular work with GreenPower NI. One part is my interest in maintaining our way of life without necessarily increasing our impact on the environment (and ideally, reducing our impact massively). My other interests are social enterprise, the democracy of community energy resources, the digitisation of energy and transport (which is more about the change in the economies than any real addition of technology).

I hope SEM to be a great example of a social enterprise, of “altrupreneurship.

Mobile more prevalent than Electricity, Sanitation, Education

According to the latest Ofcom Communications Market report, Northern Ireland has become a “smartphone society”.

In the last five years, smartphone ownership among adults has tripled (from 21% to 63%) and is now the preferred way to access the internet, having overtaken the laptop.

Additionally in the same time period, tablet ownership has gone from 2% to 54%.

Fixed line broadband take-up still remains well below than the UK average and we now lag behind England and Wales for coverage. But with the trends of 4G being available (considering all operators) to 91% of premises in Northern Ireland, it would seem that our internet usage is not only growing up, but growing even more mobile year on year.

Northern Ireland has always been a quick adopter of new technology – from having the most rapid growth in portable music players and also having the highest penetration of the iPod brand in Western Europe.

The full communications market report is available here.

The last thing to notice is that mobile is more prevalent than electricity, sanitation, clean water and education.

Christianity is at a crossroads.

A call went out from a local Pastor to support a bigot and racist.

Christianity is at a crossroads.

Behind it lies the sins of their forebears, from child abuse to witch burning. From the denial of science to their role in subjugating Africa and appeasing the Nazis.

Straight ahead lies oblivion as the same tired doctrine of exclusion and resistance to progress dooms them.

But turning at the crossroads represents and opportunity. If God is real and God is love then the Churches need to re-evaluate their default position.

The Churches were wrong about heliocentric models, they were wrong about the earth being flat and they were wrong about gravity. They were wrong about inter-racial relations and civil rights, they were wrong about organ transplant and class structure.

Christianity doesn’t have to doom itself to following demagogues into obscurity and they can accept secular life and equal marriage just as easily as they have ignored the Bible on whether or not it’s appropriate to eat Steamed Mussels in a White Wine Sauce.

I’m left with the question; What would Jesus do?

And I find myself unwilling to believe that he would rally himself with hatred and riots. Or would preach condemnation based on race. The only time I read about his wrath was when usurers turned the Temple into a market place. I think Christianity needs to have a deep reflection about what it has become.

A&E in NI: a problem of emergent use versus public service development

I have always been fascinated by emergent development. This is the unintended design from actual use rather than the laid down design by architects or town planners.

We see this in everyday life in the development of “cow paths”.

An architect or town planner says you should walk this way? And the public use a slightly different route and that’s because the people know best. They aren’t wilfully destroying carefully coiffeured grass ways, they’re trying to get somewhere. Planners and architects need to think about this.

The same goes for public services. This is an article from BelfastLive.

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Just under half the people who turned up at Northern Ireland’s A&Es last year were not emergency cases, shock figures have revealed.

Statistics provided by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) also show only 14% of patients arriving at casualty units had suffered major trauma and needed immediate care.

And yet we hear nightmare stories of people being kept on trollies for hours or how our emergency medical services are completely overburdened. It’s obvious the problem is one of design, not one of staffing.

In light of this, we should be re-designing our public services to meet what the public plainly want. They want to get seen by a medical professional.

I’ve previously proposed that a better solution might be to put a paramedic station in every town, maybe built onto the side of a health centre or GP practice. Somewhere where local people can flock and always be seen in an emergency. The current system of A&E and Out of Hours GP plainly isn’t working so we have to start to think smarter. If every large business tends to have a first-aider on every floor, why doesn’t every town have an emergency station?

The naming of the place is important too. What may be a sprain to you or me, is a break in the mind of someone who is hurt. It has to be described as the place you go when you have a medical emergency and the definition of emergency is entirely subjective.

Thoughts on Unity (the principle, not the games engine)

I am musing about the concept of unity.

I never really thought about Irish unity until recently. The Republic of Ireland has always been a foreign land, somewhere to visit, somewhere to holiday, but not home. It is a land populated by friends and good memories.

From what I can tell the province of Ulster has always been people apart. Reading the Ulster Cycle it was clear our myths and legends diverged.

The concept of Irish unity therefore needs to be on multiple fronts; cultural, economic, social and national.

Culture
The first issue is that as an outsider I see the Republic of Ireland as united. There may be issues with the haves and the have-nots, there may even be issues between the city folk and the rural folk, the people of the west and those in the east but they are one people, secure in their identity.

It’s not the same in Ulster. We have three cultures at war – nationalists, unionists and everyone else; corresponding roughly to the discrete identities of "Irish", "British" and "why does it matter?"

Economy
Our economies could not be more different. Ireland is a sovereign nation prepared to do what’s necessary. Northern Ireland is a province of subjects, beholden to London for any creature comforts.

Social
There are other differences; the Irish are hungry for business, buoyant in their humour, liberal in their attitudes and optimistic in their outlook. The subjects of Ulster are self-deprecating, suspicious of outsiders, conservative, risk-averse, and pessimistic about the future.

National
Ireland is not haunted by the constitutional question. Beyond a few, the attitude of the Irish to a United Ireland seems to be "Aye, grand"

Northern Ireland is haunted constantly by this. We are categorised by either being for or against. Our media refuses to recognise the rest of us who ultimately could care less. And it’s holding up progress, it’s causing poverty, division and violence.

Dissecting a Translink Policy

I had a thought this morning.

Translink, the local bus and rail service, provides transport tickets for a price. If you travel after 0930 in the morning, tickets are reduced in price. This is to entice you to travel later.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

It’s designed to alleviate crowding on busy commuter vehicles during rush hours. It doesn’t really work because people travel when they need to.

We need to encourage more people to travel on a bus or train before 0930 thereby alleviating traffic pressure while not impacting productivity. My solution would be to make all bus and train fares free before 9 o’clock. If that doesn’t encourage more people to leave the car at home, nothing will.

(Either way, price escalation can be a breach of EU consumer legislation).

Down Coastal Rowing Club

I took a trip to Donaghadee to visit the Coastal Rowing Club. They’re mid-build at the moment on a skiff. I’m working with some other folk to investigate how Bangor might get a boat build started. The Donaghadee build was one of nine sites sponsored by the PSNI and the Strangford and Lecale Partnership. You can find out more information here.

My interest isn’t specifically in the skiffs. Unless they can take a mast-step. Then it becomes a lot more interesting.

Bangor Coastal Rowing/Sailing/Boat-building Group

First meeting of the Bangor Coastal Rowing/Sailing/Boat-building Group was tonight. I think it’s a darned shame that towns and villages up and down the Ards peninsula have projects involving this sort of thing but where there’s a will there’s a way.

I’m going to link up some things I found before:

I’ll add to this as much as I can.

Do we have to wait for this to happen?

Paris air pollution so bad officials are temporarily making public transport free – link

While it’s only for three days and it’s only because of unseasonably warm weather (and it’s only March), this is a warning of what is to come. Other quotes in the article:

  • reduced the maximum speed allowed on main roads
  • the air is expected to remain exceptionally unhealthy
  • significant risks to the health of residents
  • air quality was “an emergency and a priority for the government”.
  • classified outdoor air pollution as “carcinogenic to humans”

Why do we have to wait until it’s about to kill us before we will act?