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Technology In A Cold Climate Technology In A Cold Climate Document Transcript

  • //INTELLIGENT PUBLIC SERVICES //AND AN INTERCONNECTED //INNOVATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE // BY JAMIE YOUNG
  • TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE // BY JAMIE YOUNG
  • About the RSA// With many thanks // The RSA’s central belief is its faith in the To those involved in steering the power of civic action. At the heart of project: Julian David, Sam Gaudois, the RSA’s mission is the desire to bridge the social aspiration gap: the gap between Carrie Hartnell, Ben Hammersley, the society people say they want and the John Higgins, William Higham, way they behave. Our principal challenge Tom Hockaday, Ian Hosking, is to develop a dynamic, credible and Aled Jones, Patrik Karrberg, persuasive account of what the future Jonathan Liebenau, Garry Miller, citizen needs to be if we are to deliver the Andy Naish and Tristan Wilkinson. world we want. The RSA engages practitioners and To the authors that contributed thinkers in concrete, practical action and academic research papers: the development of ideas aimed at creating Peter Edwards, John Farrington, the kind of state, civic and commercial Jeremy Howells, Helen Margetts, institutions we need to enable active Dennis Pamlin and Sarah Skerratt. citizenship. To those who spoke at the symposium: Stephen Timms for delivering the keynote speech, and Ben Hammersley, William Heath, Luke Johnson and Kevin Smith for joining the panel discussion. The Royal Society for the encouragement To those who facilitated seminars of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce 8 John Adam Street during the symposium or responded London WC2N 6EZ to the authors: Katherine Corrick, T +44 (0)20 7930 5115 www.theRSA.org Julian David, Emma Fryer, Nick Leon, Jonathan Liebenau, Jeff Masters, Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 212424 Garry Miller, Richard Miller, Jeremy Oates, Jonty Oliff-Cooper Copyright © RSA 2009 and Graham Walker. The RSA is an Enlightenment organisation devoted to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s pressing social problems. Through its 27,000-strong To all who attended the Fellowship it pursues its mission: to help people be symposium and contributed the people they need to be to see the change they want in the world. their time and expertise. The citizens of the future will need to be self-reliant, engaged and other-regarding if they are to create a To Intellect and their members who principled and prosperous society. kindly funded this project. More information can be found at the RSA website: www.theRSA.org.uk
  • FOREWORD// It is time for a new kind of innovation. who leverage intellectual property The shock-waves caused by the to great effect. Sometimes it is led by credit crunch are gradually receding individuals who customise the things from the private sector, but in their they buy, like the first mountain bikes place they are leaving a massive or extreme surf-boards. Or innovation public deficit, high unemployment, can be described by the effect it and a generation of young people has on the market; sometimes it that are disconnected from the leads to a sustaining, incremental economy. This could be more than a improvement and sometimes to “cold snap” – many believe it to be disruptive and radical change. the start of a long chilly climate. Over the last few years we have We are not simply facing the also realised the value of innovation short term costs of an economic clusters; silicon valley in California, downturn, but the consequences of silicon fen in East Anglia and now an ageing, unsustainably consuming silicon round-about in Clerkenwell. and carbon-dependent society. How do we put this knowledge to It is an absolute imperative that use? What sort of society are we we innovate our way out of the innovating towards? Wealth creation recession. However the right question is usually the incentive behind much is not simply whether we should be innovation in the private sector. innovating, rather, to what purpose While there is nothing wrong with are we innovating? this, it has become abundantly clear that wealth creation and The present cold snap should economic measures of success indeed make governments, alone are insufficient to create the businesses and charities furiously world to which we aspire. innovative; generating creative When innovation becomes new ideas by the bucket-load, then detached from its wider purpose it testing them and refining the ones can cause problems. that don’t work out. At the beginning The financial services became of 2010 we are in a good place to a hot-bed of service-economy innovate - knowing more than we innovation in recent years, but the ever have about how new ideas are creativity behind collateralised debt successfully introduced. obligations and credit-default swaps failed to satisfy the longer term We know for example that innovation purposes of society. be led by an entrepreneur, someone As we enter double figures in with a vision like James Dyson, or by the new millennium it is time for a an existing business, such as ARM new level of purposive innovation. 5// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Nicolas Sarkozy recently many of whom are incredibly commissioned Joseph Stiglitz and innovative individuals. Among the Amartya Sen to explore a new innovations contained in this report measure of a nation’s performance are technologies that could give us that would take into account not one of the best chances we might just GDP but other factors such as have in mitigating anthropogenic environmental protection and work/ climate change, help us care for life balance. Speaking before a G20 the booming number of citizens summit last year the President said that are approaching old age, and “The crisis doesn’t only make us free enable everyone from individual to imagine other models, another home-owners to world leaders and future, another world. It obliges us international negotiators to make to do so”. Such concerns are not more informed and longer term only exhibited by world leaders, but decisions about our communities, mirrored in today’s graduates, who health and impact on the are no longer content to work for environment. organisations simply motivated by financial gain. One poll shows that The recession is the best chance 35% of graduates polled by Fujitsu we will have to turn society on its Siemens would reject a job head, to ask difficult questions, offer from a company whose and to work together to create the ethics did not live up to their own world we want. We know that we stringent standards. need to innovate, but we need to be During this short project, the RSA has innovating in the right direction – it’s explored some of the innovations time for purposive innovation. and inventions that satisfy more than simply economic criteria. The UK’s information and communication technology sector is the ideal lens Matthew Taylor through which to look at the future of innovation; they contribute a large segment of the UK’s economy and employ one million people, 6// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • CONTENTS// 1. Executive Summary 8 2. Key Findings & Recommendations 11 3. Introduction 13 4. Challenges 16 5. Research & Responses 20 6. Technology in a Cold Climate 24 6.1. Versatile 26 6.2. Parsimonious 29 6.3. Decentralised 35 6.4. Purposive 38 7. Summary 42 8. References 43 7// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 1.EXECUTIVE SUMMARY // The UK faces severe challenges that manifest themselves in the short term in a cold economic climate, in which unemployment is high and a large government deficit threatens to reduce public sector spending. Furthermore, in the medium term other trends such as a rising, ageing and unsustainably developing population are likely to lead to global problems: food, water and energy shortages. The effects of anthropogenic climate change will almost certainly compound these threats. Together such challenges point towards an uncertain period in which resources are scarce and the threat of hardship looms large. We suggest that in difficult times, ICT can be used to raise levels of the most valuable technological social capital, by joining people and innovations are those that are communities through collaborative versatile, purposive and enable community websites that deal society to become parsimonious and with issues from parenting1 to decentralised. healthcare2. ICT could also transform supply chains of energy and other Versatile resources by connecting sensors and The diversity of the challenges we intelligent devices together, creating face, encompassing issues from “smart grids”. making savings in the cost of law enforcement to dramatically cutting Although ICT promises great things, carbon emissions, indicates that it appears that the full benefits are we need generic technologies not yet being felt across the UK due that allow a range of outcomes to to a combination of skills, culture be accomplished using the same and technical infrastructure. While tools. Rather than specific inventions, broadband is widely available, take ICT is one such “general purpose” up by individuals is not yet universal technology which is sufficiently and small businesses have been slow versatile to contribute to solving to capitalise on the potential. social, economic and environmental In addition, the copper cables problems. that form broadband’s current 1 See http://www.mumsnet.com/ 2 See http://www.patientopinion.org.uk/ 8// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • infrastructure would need upgrading Parsimonious in order to carry sufficient data for the The cold climate requires us to be most effective applications – such as parsimonious, with public money high definition video conferencing and with natural resources. Efforts to – to be used to their full social and reduce the government’s deficit will environmental effect. make the public sector subject to a squeeze on spending. This could be Purposive achieved in some cases by using the The cold climate requires a greater internet more effectively, for example level of purposive technological increasing the amount of public innovation in the public and private services delivered online. sectors. Purposive innovation would Research estimates that developing take into account the full range of a facility to allow people to apply challenges that we face; creating for Job Seekers Allowance online new solutions that do not simply could save £100 million annually. mitigate short term economic However the UK’s public sector has problems, but the enormous social a poor record of using ICT, resulting and environmental problems that we in unusually large contracts and all face. missed targets, which is likely to come under increased scrutiny in a cold Technological innovation could economic climate. help mitigate climate change, but recent measures have favoured Other applications of ICT could short term economic gains with help society adopt much more seeming less thought to possible sustainable patterns. For example, environmental gains. A clearer high speed connectivity could allow understanding between government energy-intensive activities such as and private sector over the commuting to be replaced with technologies and markets required high definition video conferencing. in the future is critical. More transformative changes could be brought about as more devices The UK has had many good become capable of connecting innovation policies in the past, to the internet, and as electronic including a number of ground- sensors miniaturise. This combination breaking initiatives, though they have of sensors and ICT could allow not always been effectively enforced. many more companies to switch However there are notable gaps in from selling their products via an innovation policy. The public and ownership model, to leasing them private sector, for example, invest as a more environmentally much lower amounts in research sustainable service. and development than comparative economies. In addition, the UK is Decentralised particularly weak at growing small or Encouraging and empowering medium businesses into large ones. individuals to play their own part in the face of the challenges ahead will be vital; individuals and communities will need to become 9// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • more engaged with the big deeper level, in the way illustrated challenges and more self-reliant in a by volunteer and third sector period of uncertainty and possible organisations like MySociety and hardship. As already noted, ICT can Rewired State who re-publish join people together, but it’s great public sector data in innovative and benefit is being able to dissolve useful ways. distances and harness the power of many people. As more public sector organisations release their data and people find An early example of this would new ways to tailor and publish it to include online public services individuals, new opportunities for that use web 2.0 features in the communicating that data open up. way that commercial sites like Providing data in real-time through Amazon.com use them to harness mobile devices could lead to much people’s collective knowledge and more effective ways to encourage experience, sharing advice and and enable people to adopt new pointing forward to how public behaviours in response. services could be further developed. The development of augmented Such social media (and the ICT reality applications for smart phones that carries it) could also be used could be the forerunners of this. to co-produce public services at a 10// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 2. KEY FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS // // High speed digital connectivity offers significant social, environmental and economic benefits, but it is unlikely to be commercially viable to deliver them to everyone who wants them. We suggest that where the market fails to extend access to all, that the government create the conditions through which this can be corrected. // Some of the cost savings necessary to reduce the government’s deficit could be attained by delivering more public services via the internet. We suggest a combination of segmentation according to personal internet use, incentives and greater use of intermediaries to establish which services could be transferred online and encourage and enable people to use them. // The UK’s public sector has struggled to effectively procure and apply technology, leading to higher costs than other countries and a bias towards large projects which often fail to meet all their targets. We suggest that dividing projects into smaller, off-the-shelf rather than highly customised, packages of work and the retention of more internal expertise on technology could lead to more successful use of technology in the public sector. Publishing more data on government ICT procurement could also improve transparency and accountability. // ICT has a significant environmental cost, but the benefits it brings through replacing resource-intensive current practices with alternatives could offset this footprint by as much as five times. We suggest that a greater emphasis is placed on ICT as an instrument to bring about a more sustainable society // Encouraging greater communication and higher levels of engagement between people and the government will be important in difficult times. We suggest that online public services provide an excellent enabler of co-production between public servants and people. More online services should be designed to encourage and harness this collective knowledge using features like comments and ratings. // The trend towards constant and mobile digital connectivity and the welcome launch of more public sector data could be used to significant effect by helping people to visualise the effect of their personal actions on their own health or the natural environment. We suggest that government become more aware of the new possibilities that mobile technology platforms enable. 11// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • // The UK considers itself an advanced-knowledge economy, but although it has some excellent innovation policies and mechanisms, it does not seem to have implemented these well, leading to lower levels of R&D investment and a poor record of exploiting knowledge to full advantage. We suggest that the UK’s position is critically assessed, and that innovation policies are more proactively evaluated throughout their lifetime. // There does not seem to be a sufficiently strong discourse between policy makers and business regarding the nature of the society we are aiming towards and the role that technology could play. There is a need for more collaborative foresight work to establish a clearer vision of the society we aspire to and the markets and technologies which will be required to support it. // Demand-led innovation is critical for the future success of the UK’s technology sector. Such demand could be stimulated through incentive schemes and demonstration programmes and also by changing how firms view innovation and growth. There is also a key role for public sector procurement to stimulate the right sort of demand. 12// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 3. INTRODUCTION // The cold snap of the economic downturn has affected many people and organisations over the last year, but is only the start of a longer cold economic climate for many – particularly the public sector. It is clear that we face challenges on social, environmental and economic fronts, but it is not yet clear that we are responding by fully realising our potential for innovation and invention. Technology in a Cold Climate The statistics are grim: at the time aims to engender a greater of writing, preliminary figures show understanding among the that the UK has just emerged by technology sector and policy a small figure from one of the makers about the role that longest periods of recession since technologies could play in meeting in post war history. Unemployment, the UK’s ambitions and challenges. though not as severe as during To contribute towards this aim, other recessions is at its highest through a short period of research since 1992I , and government debt and validation we have identified is expected to reach its highest some measures that could help level since the second world war. the UK make more of technology Additionally, the global population is in an economic climate of relative growing, ageing and unsustainably scarcity, uncertainty and adversity. developing. But as others have notedII , challenges such as As the set of tools that we use these should not encourage us to adapt to our environment, to “keep calm and carry on”: technology is constantly evolving rather we should be energetically and the cold climate provides a experimenting and inventing. reason to revisit the options that are open to us. This project takes The RSA is known to many as “a a broad look at the role that society for inventions that would technology, particularly information make the world a better place”III . and communication technology This confidence that technology has (ICT), could play in meeting some something to offer society as well of the big challenges posed by the as pure economic development cold climate. is exemplified in a story from the society’s records. Child labour was 13// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • rife in eighteenth century London, We commissioned four research with children being used as near papers from accomplished authors slaves to carry out dangerous to collate the knowledge on fields tasks like sweeping the city’s that seemed fertile to us: filthy chimneys. In 1796 the RSA responded with a competition // Public sector use of technology for equipment for “obviating the necessity of children being // The potential of a more digitally employed within flues”. interconnected society The submissions to this competition were prototypes of the first // The contribution that ICT could extendible chimney sweeping make towards a more sustainable brushes, paving the way for society legislation that eventually outlawed the practice of child labour in // A review of UK innovation and sweeping chimneys. the support available to it The challenges that we face and As well as mapping out the the technologies that are our tools current landscape, each author have moved on, but the RSA retains was asked to suggest a few its enthusiasm for innovation and recommendations that could help inventions. Today the society is the UK make the most of technology predominantly concerned with how in a cold climate. individuals and communities can become more engaged, pro-social These papers and and self-reliant in response to the recommendations were grand challenges we face. subsequently developed during a Some commentators note that small conference of experts drawn there is a risk in people becoming from large and small technology passive consumers rather than businesses, the civil service, political engaged citizensIV ; making parties, think-tanks and academia. impossible demands of the These experts met at a symposium government but contributing little at the RSA in late 2009 to use their to society themselves. collective experience to discuss the Among other issues, Technology most important recommendations. in a Cold Climate examines the potential of technology to enable The first chapter of this report and encourage people to become documents the challenges that more engaged citizens. were uppermost in our mind when thinking about the cold climate Through a brisk four month process, and summarise some of the new we have worked with large and developments in technology. small technology companies, Secondly, a summary of the public servants, academics and research that we commissioned other leading thinkers to explore and the responses made by those emerging technologies that could from industry or policy given help us meet such challenges. 14// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • during the Technology in a Cold We present this report’s key findings Climate symposium. Thirdly, from and suggestions as avenues that the challenges, the research, the could help the UK maximise responses and debate of the the social and environmental symposium, a number of themes potential of technology in the are extracted, which include current cold climate and the difficult recommendations of how the times ahead. potential of technology in a cold climate could be maximised. 15// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 4. CHALLENGES // “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” It was the cold economic climate that sparked this project into life, but the UK and global society face challenges on social and environmental sides as well as the current economic. As Rahm Emanuel, President has moved on to the public sector. Obama’s chief of staff, said of the Through bailing out the banks, economic downturn: “You never quantitative easing and rising want a serious crisis to go to spending, in September 2009 UK waste”V. The challenges we face public sector net debt stood at 59% are opportunities to re-think our of the Gross Domestic ProductVI , aims and the way we go about the highest for over ten years. achieving them. What sort of society The debt is expected to rise to 79% do we want, how do we measure our of GDP by 2013 – its highest level progress towards this goal, and what since the Second World WarVII . challenges stand in our way? The cost-saving implications for the The big questions about the society government are severe. The Institute we want are social and political for Fiscal Studies notes that recent questions beyond the scope of this pre-budget reports and budget report, but we can assume that indicate that the government many of the grand challenges that will need to make increasingly we face stand in the way. What tightening cuts until they are saving do we know about these grand £90 billion each year from 2017-18 challenges that could help us onwardsVIII. Such cuts would reverse identify the nature of the tools and the rise in spending on public technologies we need to help us services seen under the Labour meet them? government unless taxes rise or welfare payments are cut. The Cold Snap: How can we achieve such Public Sector Spending tightening while preventing them Following the credit crunch that sent from adversely affecting our aims shockwaves through the private for society? sector, the economic downturn 16// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • ICT is often suggested as a way the government to look after their in which public services could be personal data. delivered more efficiently, but too often the opposite occurs. The UK It is clear that spending on public invests more than any other country services must be cut, but how could in contracts much larger than any such cuts actually be delivered? other country, but one government How can the fractured relationship CIO reportedly said that only 30% of between citizens and the state be public sector ICT projects meet all of repaired and made productive? their targets. How can public sector ICT move from being a source of waste to a way of contributing real Other Challenges Ahead: cost savings? Sustainability and Climate Change If the squeeze on public sector Cutting public service spending spending is the cold snap, what are is not simply a matter of making the mid to long term challenges that efficiencies. As policy makers we face? The economic challenge wonder exactly how such large is likely to be compounded by even savings can be made, eyes are more serious demographic and turning to Canada, who were environmental trends. Forecasted running a similarly large (to the UK) by the government’s chief scientific national debt of 70% in the 90s and advisor to coincide in a “perfect underwent dramatic fiscal reforms in storm” around 2030XI , the intervening response. Jocelyne Bourgon, head years are our last chance to of the Canadian civil service said either mitigate or adapt to these of the reforms that she led that the challenges. real key is not incremental efficiency improvements, but “a process of One such trend is the rising modernisation of public institutions global population. In July 2009, including the role of the centre of the population of the world was government, the role of departments estimated at 6.8 billionXII , projected and rethinking of the relationship to rise to 8.3 billion by 2030, and with citizens”IX. surpass 9 billion by 2050. A business- as-usual projection puts the UK However this crucial relationship on course for a population of 71.6 is at a low ebb, with one recent million in 2033 (currently 61 million), study indicating that 71% of with a significant contribution made people distrust the governmentX. by migrationXIII . This is unusually apparent in the issues around government use of Another trend linked to development technology, which too often seems is that society’s population is living a source of distrust rather than longer. Both in developed and a means of empowerment and developing countries, the population engagement. A number of large aged over 60 is growing at the databases and high profile losses fastest rates ever – currently 2% of personal information mean annually in the developed worldXII. that many people do not trust The UK is no exception; over the 17// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • last 25 years, the percentage of The expected global impacts of the population aged under 16 has climate change are well known decreased and that over 65 has and far reaching; extreme weather, increasedXIV. By 2033, it is projected glacier retreat, sea level rise, that 23% of the population will be 65 changes to the oceans’ content, or over and 18% will be 16 or under. economic and social impacts, ecosystem change, health impacts, A growing population is not water scarcity and security inherently a problem, but the implications to name some of the manner in which society has headline impacts. The UK has set a developed to use natural resources target of reducing its GHG emissions is unsustainable, and rising by 80% (on their 1990 levels) by populations will exacerbate the 2050XVII. This target is to be achieved problem. Humanity’s global footprint in a series of five-year carbon now exceeds the Earth’s capacity budgets. The first three five-year to regenerate by about 30%XV, budgets require a 34% reduction and if trends remain the same, by by 2022XVIII . the mid 2030s we will require two Earths to provide the resources Such challenges, when collected we currently consume. The UK’s together, form a broad set of ecological footprint stands at 5.3 drivers of innovation; where could global hectares (a unit of land with technology most effectively play a the average capacity to produce role in helping us address them? resources and absorb waste) per person, but the sustainable threshold Technology Trends is 2.1. The average UK citizen has the Many exciting developments 15th highest ecological footprint in are occurring in various fields of the world. technology including biotech, cognitive science, energy Anthropogenic climate change, technology, material science, although an example of nanotechnology, robotics and unsustainable resource use, stands transport. Some startling advances apart from other sustainability issues are being made that could for its global impact and urgency. have significant social and The average global temperature environmental gains. has risen by 0.74ºCXVI during the last century and is expected to rise Advances in genome sequencing, further by up to 6.4ºC during the for example, has led one biotech current century. The cause of the company to develop miniature chips warming is accepted as the release that should allow an individual’s of Green House Gasses (GHGs), entire genome to be sequenced at including Carbon Dioxide (CO2), very low cost, opening the door to through some of the industrialised inexpensive personalised medical world’s activities. treatment such as selecting the most effective type of chemotherapy based on the results of a tumour biopsy. 18// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Likewise, recent advances in effects. Undoubtedly technology cognitive science are expected can cause harm as well as good. to result in a wiring diagram for Nowhere is this more obvious than in the neural circuits of the brain the application of nuclear science which could bring new insights to weapons technology. The dreadful to psychiatric illness. Even those potential of such technology once prosaic fields such as battery led Albert Einstein to say: “It has technology which have only seen become appallingly obvious that incremental improvements for our technology has exceeded decades are now areas of rapid our humanity”. It is the purpose of advance, resulting in innovations weapons technologies to cause like the entirely “liquid” batteries that great damage, but all technologies will be cheaper, longer-lasting and can have unintended side-effects operate at far higher currents than on society and the environment. any battery currently on the market, The main technologies that we rely enabling entirely solar-powered on for energy also emit greenhouse street lighting and more effective gasses in such quantity as to electric cars. unbalance the natural carbon cycle or leave us with waste that remains Enthusiasts & Sceptics hazardous for many years to come. Technology often divides opinions; or leave us with waste that remains some seeing unlimited potential for hazardous for many years to come. economic growth or social gain, others seeing only undesirable side- 19// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 5. RESEARCH & RESPONSES// Our search for those technologies that could play a meaningful role in the challenges of the cold climate began with academic research. We commissioned four papers from experienced authors, each of whom carried out a survey of existing knowledge surrounding their topic, and suggested a few recommendations that could improve the current situation. To draw in the perspectives of those The research summarised the with expertise in industry and policy, ability of ICT to build relationships we organised a symposium for within and between people and sixty professionals from business, communities (e.g. social networking government, the third sector and websites such as Facebook or academia. During seminars in the Twitter) but also highlighted the role symposium, each author presented of machine-to-machine connectivity their research and formal responses in large scale grid computing were delivered by two experts. applications such as SETI@home. The development of the semantic Interconnected Society web, the re-organisation of data The academic research we to make it understandable by commissionedXXIII on the computers as well as people, was interconnected society highlighted outlined. It was suggested that many some of the benefits that ICT and semantic web applications will digital connectivity are expected occupy a space that involves both to bring, particularly in dissolving people-to-people and machine-to- geographical boundaries. machine connectivity. Digital connectivity is seen, and not just by technologists, as a necessity The research also briefly explored to improve social, economic and the market and policy landscape environmental standards. It was surrounding the next generation suggested however that the reality of digital connectivity, noting that of these benefits did not currently although the government’s 50p match up to the rhetoric, due to a landline levy could raise the funds number of barriers and divides – to extend such fast broadband including the physical infrastructure across the UK, this policy is and gaps in levels of ICT skills. subject to changes in the UK’s 20// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • political landscape. The research The research recommended three suggested that since the benefits measures to make more of ICT to of connectivity are felt at various deliver public services and improve levels, the costs should similarly government administration. derive from multiple places. It was These included procurement issues; thought that the EU, UK and regional the adoption of smaller contracts development agencies may each and more effective use of existing take a leadership role in extending databases instead of investing in next generation broadband to larger databases. It was also noted “the final third”. that other country’s governments have higher levels of expertise in ICT Responses to the paper agreed on than is common in the UK. the benefits of digital connectivity, In addition, the current problem but suggested that there were of less than universal take up of many issues surrounding digital broadband could be mitigated by connectivity that were not yet targeting public services that are sufficiently publicly understood specific to segments of society that or debated; including privacy already have high levels of internet and security, digital inclusion and access. The use of web 2.0 features exclusion, technical standards and could also allow services to be more issues of governance. engaging, and allow a level of co- The benefit of machine-to-machine production of services through the communication, was highlighted world wide web. as an application of ICT that could collect and employ huge amounts Responses to the research included of data to maximum effect, having the perspective that while smaller benefits from reducing food wastage ICT contracts could help, they could to ensuring that energy is generated not expected to be a panacea for and distributed efficiently. all the problems of public sector ICT procurement; small contracts Public Services may also fail. It was noted that the The research we commissioned contract cost of smaller contracts explored how digital technologies must be correspondingly lower. could equip public services to A role was seen for ICT to help survive the recession. The paper government operate across included a brief history of central departmental boundaries, with government’s use of ICT, highlighting the example of the online DVLA a number of failures in ICT licensing system noted as exemplar. procurement, and opportunities to The importance of free data as use ICT to create more engaging a lever to spark innovation was and effective public services. expounded. Responses also Estimates were made of the cost emphasised that the challenge savings made possible through of the “cold climate” would last transferring delivery of some key for longer than the short term. The services to the internet. importance of ICT in untangling central government was again supported, as was the importance 21// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • of using ICT to co-produce public people in real-time. The importance services. The potential of the of these technologies in three key web as a field for nudge-like areas of consumption; buildings, behaviour change interventions transport and food, was highlighted. was also noted. The research presented six measures Sustainable Technology that could support the acceleration The research we commissionedXIX of transformative technology that reported on some of the would enable a more sustainable transformational changes that future society. The adoption of a one-planet technologies could make to help framework that uses a benchmark society adopt more sustainable of one million people to assess the patterns. The difficulties of predicting sustainability of proposed solutions technological developments for long was highlighted, as was the need time frames were noted, and three to promote reporting of company’s key “technology service clusters” positive impacts rather than their were chosen that were highly likely negative impacts. scenarios to transpire as well as A focus on transformative solutions having transformational potential; that achieve savings of over 90% high speed digital connectivity, rather than those that achieve 10- miniaturisation leading to ubiquitous 20% was recommended. computing, and the integration of the two; allowing data on the Responses to the research environmental impact of people’s reinforced the importance of the actions to be communicated to shift to a service rather than them in real-time. ownership economy and the cyclical lifespan of products Faster digital connectivity could that ICT could enable, citing the allow energy intensive activities example of Integrated Vehicle such as commuting to be replaced Health Management or modular with video-conferencing, saving 50- photocopying equipment. 150% of the emissions associated The importance of differentiating with traditional forms of travel. between technology that allows Miniaturisation of the devices incremental improvements and currently able to connect to the those that allow revolutionary internet will allow parts such as improvements was also noted, as vehicle components to connect to was the difficulty that policy can the internet; allowing them to be have in keeping up with latest tracked geographically. This could developments. enable a shift towards a much more Responses also highlighted the effectively-implemented service ability of ICT to monitor and economy. Integration of digital control energy generation and connectivity and miniaturisation into distribution, and served as a people’s lifestyles will encourage reminder that digital infrastructure the emergence of ubiquitous is just as important as roads augmented reality, allowing and railways. information to be presented to 22// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Supporting Innovation combination of incentive schemes We also commissioned a review and demonstration programmes of the state of innovationXX and could stimulate the necessary innovation policies and measures impetus to create demand-led in the UK. This research reported innovation. The paper concluded that while often dwelling too much that while the UK has always held on its failures, that in actual fact, a position as an innovative player, the UK does relatively well across recent shifts in innovation, growth various areas. The UK’s success in and productivity towards economies creativity, the importance of “grand like Brazil, India and China makes challenges”, sustainability as a driver this position fragile – undermining of innovation, knowledge exchange, its position as an advanced the higher education system, the knowledge economy. value of demand-led innovation and the recognition of service innovation Responses to this paper broadly were all noted as exemplar. agreed with its analysis, but drew a line between technological However the review also noted innovation and organisational two particular gaps in innovation, innovation. The response suggested notably that the UK (both that our expectations of innovation government and business) invests in the UK should differ from those in much lower amounts in research areas such as Silicon Valley. It was and development than comparative urged that the significant amounts economies, and that the UK of venture capital money available consistently fails to grow fledgling to UK companies should be used businesses into larger firms. to energise rather than scare, and banks should be more encouraging The paper concluded that while the to those trying to grow businesses. UK’s policies were ground-breaking, The lack of mechanisms to grow it has been less successful at little businesses to medium sized implementing these policies. It was ones was noted, as was the role of suggested that this could be due organisations such as NESTA and to insufficient resources assigned government departments like BIS, to implementing such policies. The but ultimately the importance of importance of a greater emphasis improving management within on foresight, and a more proactive business was seen as critical, evaluation that appraises policies particularly in changing managers’ throughout their lifetime was attitudes towards innovation. noted. It was also suggested that a 23// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 6.TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE // The sweeping breadth of the challenges we face is noticeable; making significant cost efficiencies in public services involves finding new ways to deliver health, law enforcement, education and more. Climate change and demographic shifts bring their particular problems. It seems appropriate that the technologies required by the cold climate should be versatile, allowing a range of outcomes to be accomplished using the same technologies. Which technologies will be flexible enough to play a major role on social, economic and environmental fronts? Perhaps most strikingly, the big challenges, and how can they cold climate requires us to be become more self-reliant in an parsimonious, both with the public age of hardship and uncertainty? purse and with our natural resources. What role does technology have in The public sector deficit will require enabling and empowering higher £90 billion to be saved and the UK levels social productivity? Climate Change Act’s target of 80% reduction in carbon emissions Finally there is the key question by 2050 mean that we must find of innovation. The UK currently radically more efficient ways of using sees itself as an advanced public money and fossil fuel. knowledge economy, but the cold How can technology help us make climate will require us to go beyond our money go further, and could it rhetoric to reality. even help us do more for less? Are we really innovating sufficiently, and do we support key innovations Decentralisation of power and enough? As well as simply innovating, responsibility seems important; as the foreword to this report urges, learning from the lesson of Canada we must be innovating with purpose, in the 90s and from recent with sufficient foresight to look research on the lack of trust beyond the cold snap to the long between individuals and central cold climate ahead of us – is our government. How can citizens innovation purposive? become more engaged in the 24// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • The following sections take each that are versatile, and that enable of these themes in turn, identifying society to be more parsimonious, innovations and inventions that could decentralised and innovative, then be of use in the cold climate. If the which are the options? cold climate require technologies 25// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 6.1 VERSATILE // The range of social and environmental challenges provoked by the cold climate includes matters as diverse as government administration, a diverse spectrum of public services and environmental sustainability. It follows that we will require technology that is versatile enough to be applied to a variety of problems. Versatility is one of the reasons Instead, our research recommended that Technology in a Cold Climate that clusters of technologies be focuses on the potential of identified that could provide the information and communication same service. For example, the digital technology (ICT). Rather than any connectivity used by information specific product, ICT is a general and communication technologies purpose technologyXXI , a technology provides a service that allows people that can be applied in diverse ways and machines to communicate, and which is capable of significant but rather than dependent on one impact. Other such general technology, it could be provided by purpose technologies include a range of competitor technologies. materials technologies, power, tools For the digital connectivity example, and transportation. such alternative specific technologies could include fibre, GSM, 3G or Predicting the Future even satellite. Our researchXXII illustrated the difficulties of predicting technology The advantage of identifying such futures with a example from the clusters is that the foundational mobile phone market. In 1980, one service is independent of any single consultancy predicted that there technology. Such clusters should would be 900 thousand mobile be selected on the basis of the subscribers by the end of the 20th foundational service being of use to century, when in fact there were over many areas across different sectors 100 million subscribers in the United so that multiple stakeholders are States in the year 2000; over 100 investing and a robust market exists, times more than the prediction. and the presence of a number of technologies capable of delivering the service. 26// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Digital Connectivity to analyse radio signals for signs The development of large digital of extra-terrestrial intelligence. networks – particularly the internet This machine-to-machine digital – have given the field of ICT connectivity is likely to become unparalleled versatility, allowing ever more prevalent, as more and these technologies to play a role more products are equipped with in areas as diverse as education, technology (RFID tags or similar) healthcare, the environment that makes them part of the internet. and transportation. Through the This so-called “internet of things” transformational changes that ICT could have significant potential to has already brought, we live in the help meet some of the challenges of information age. Today’s technology the cold climate. allows us to use that information to complete a wide range of The infrastructure of digital tasks; from allowing people to learn connectivity would seem to be as online from the Open University important to the 21st century as the or the Massachusetts Institute of roads and railways were to the 19th Technology’s OpenCourseWare3 , century; bringing with it many of the to holding organisations with benefits highlighted in this report a public remit to account and forming a platform that allows through websites such as new businesses to spring up. TheyWorkForYou.com4. Our research also emphasised the benefits that However varied and transformational digital connectivity and ICT bring to the benefits, our research suggested rural communities by enabling the that although the benefits are economy and society to become recognised by the government at less centralised through the ability European and national level, the of ICT and digital connectivity to advantages are being observed dissolve the barrier of distance. more slowly. Small to medium sized enterprises (SME) in particular, The advantages of digital particularly those in rural areas, connectivity are often thought of as have been slower than their larger synonymous with those of the world counterparts to take full advantage wide web; but in fact encompass of digital connectivity. a much broader set of channels including mobile phones, digital A number of reasons were television, and machine-to-machine suggested for the lagging benefits, communications. The internet allows including digital infrastructure and people to communicate with each levels of ICT skills. Such a view is other across spatial boundaries, and reinforced by the Economist’s annual web 2.0 websites like Facebook and E-readiness ranking, which in its 2009 Twitter result in new communities. report of different country’s ability to But other forms of connectivity allow apply ICT for social and economic machines to communicate with impact, assessed the UK as having each other, resulting in applications slipped from 8th to 13th placeXXIV. such as SETI@home that harness the power of many home computers 3 See http://ocw.mit.edu/ 4 See http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ 27// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Markets and Policies landline levy, the government plans The UK’s current digital infrastructure to create leverage sufficient to fund for broadband is available to 99% the extension of next generation of the populationXXV, with 63% of connectivity to the “final third” of households having taken up the the population – the most rural service by 2009XXVI. Actual speeds areas – allowing high broadband vary considerably due to the speeds to be available to 90% of the nature of the current copper based population. Our research indicated technologies, but average speeds of that the 50p landline 4.1 mega bits per second (Mbps)XXVII levy is subject to changes in the in 2009 – sufficient for fairly simple political landscape, and if not tasks such as streaming video, implemented, the question of how e-mail, and downloading music and to extend the benefits of next- video files, but not enough to stream generation broadband to the final high definition television for example. third are unknown. “Next-generation” broadband, which offers speeds of up to 50Mbps Rightly, there is reluctance could open the door to additional among policy makers to pick digital services like “telepresence” specific technological “winners”. (high quality teleconferencing), Interfering in the market to support some of which are examined in the technologies that are likely to following chapters. Next-generation deliver benefit is undesirable, broadband is expected to be rolled and an impossible task given out by providers in the urban and the rapid pace of technological semi-urban areas that are home to development. However the service two thirds of the UK’s population, provided by digital connectivity but the lack of demand in rural is largely independent of specific areas means the full benefits technologies, being an example of such connectivity may not r of a general purpose technology, each everybody. and we suggest that this service will be of significant value to society The government’s Digital Britain in the cold climate. In addition to strategy indicates their commitment providing some of the social and to extend access of current levels environmental benefits reported of broadband service to all by in the following chapters, one 2012; as Gordon Brown recently study shows that a (theoretical) wrote in the Times: “a fast internet investment of £5 billion could result connection is now seen by most of in the creation or retention the public as an essential service, as of 280,500 jobs, 94,000 of them in indispensable as electricity, gas and small businessesXXVIII . water”. In addition, through the 50p // High speed digital connectivity offers significant social, environmental and economic benefits, but it is unlikely to be commercially viable to deliver them to everyone who wants them. We suggest that where the market fails to extend access to all, that the government creates the conditions through which this failure can be corrected. 28// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 6.2. PARSIMONIOUS// Society faces the challenge of radically reducing public sector spending, as well as the manifestation, in climate change, of the effects of an unsustainable society. The cold climate will push us to become economical rather than extravagant with the resources we have. Two of the research papers we procurement of ICT itself could commissioned explored how ICT become more parsimonious. could enable a more parsimonious society. One paper examined Although central government has a how ICT could be used by central long relationship with ICT, there are government to save money on many public services provided by internal administration and public the government that make little or service delivery. The other looked no use of the cost-saving potential at the role that ICT could play of technology. The government set a in helping society manage its target in 1999 that all transactions consumption of natural resources with the public sector should be more effectively. Our research available online by 2005. This has highlighted the potential of ICT been fairly successful; a 2005 available today, such as the world survey showed 39% of internet users wide web, but also pointed forwards reported e-government interaction to the role that digital connectivity in the last year. In 2007, this figure could play in the near future. was 46% and in 2009, 59% had undertaken some e-government Cost-effective Public activity. However the same (2009) Services study showed that while 59% of Our research showed that there were people interacted with government significant cost-saving opportunities online, 81% of people compared for central government use of ICT; products and prices, 80% bought partly in delivering more public good and services online, and 76% services digitally, and partly by made travel reservations online and improving use of ICT within and 55% used online banking. across government departments. Our research showed that only 1% The research also indicated ways of interactions with Department in which central government’s for Work and Pensions (which has 29// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • by far the largest budgets) are One possible objection to the carried out online. While growing parsimonious potential of using ICT online interaction is encouraging, to deliver public services is that an there is still enormous potential and online service could not displace necessity to make this the norm. traditionally-run services due to the current lack of universal access to Our research highlighted two digital connectivity. It is true that the examples of cost savings that savings would only be realised if an could save the Job Centre Plus online service replaced a traditional service approximately £118 million service, but our research showed a year. First, applications for Job that the “digital divide” is not Seekers’ Allowance currently cost as significant a problem as £89 to deliver, but the cost could previously thought. be reduced by removing the cost of phone calls and information Although 70% of households are gathering costs that could comprise connected to the internet; either about half (or £45) of the total. through their telephone line, WiFi, With the rising rate of unemployment PDAs, digital or cable television, 72% claims, a rate of 81% during the of non-internet-users responded that latter part of 2008 and early 2009, they definitely or probably could then the cost saving of allowing “use the internet to send an email people to apply online for Job or something now” XXIX. These users Seekers Allowance could be as large have indirect access to broadband, as £100 million. Secondly, Job Centre through people that they know or Plus currently spend £235 million library access to the internet. Such annually on 9,300 personal advisors, intermediaries play a valuable role, 3,400 of which dedicated to new shrinking the digital divide to about start or new deal programmes at a 8% of people who are firmly excluded cost of £86 million. By making more from internet access. use of the internet to deliver such advice, a saving of perhaps 20% Intermediaries can be family or £18 million could be made on members or friends, local libraries, these resources. or schemes such as UK Online Centres. They also offer the potential Similar possibilities exist in the to combat another of the objections national health service. GP often raised at online services – consultations with people aged 65 that delivering services online can or over topped 6 million in 2007, at further isolate people from offline a cost of £20-25 each. If access to social contact. In addition, the health advice on the internet for internet has far higher penetration those aged 65 or over could be among particular segments of the improved, then a modest reduction population. For example, students of 10% in such consultations could have near universal take up of the save the NHS £12 to 15 million a year. internet which allows student loan administration to be delivered as a purely online service. It is likely that there will almost certainly be 30// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • other services primarily used by rise from 44% to 58% online return) segments with very high levels together with an understanding of of internet take up. the importance of intermediaries and the government’s commitment A combination of incentives for to universal access to broadband by people to interact online, such as 2012 open the door to using ICT to used by HMRC in their policy of much greater effect in public mandating online interactions for service delivery. late tax-filing (which achieved a //Some of the cost savings necessary to reduce the government’s deficit could be attained by delivering more public services via the internet. We suggest a combination of segmentation according to personal internet use, incentives and greater use of intermediaries to establish which services could be transferred online and encourage and enable people to use them. Parsimonious Procurement of wastefulness, that there is still The UK government has been scope for improvement. A number dependent on ICT for decades, of comparative models, from tight but the pressures on the public regulation to maintain a competitive sector are bringing a new focus on supply market, to retaining in-house the way in which it is used. capability, to splitting contracts up Large and centralised databases, into smaller pieces. The research massive contracts and high concluded that smaller contracts failure rates make ICT’s reputation were likely to lead to a more synonymous with making things effective relationship between the bigger, centralised, complicated, government and ICT contractors. expensive and intrusive. The pressure A reasonable level of support was of the cold climate should shown for this suggestion from the provoke changes. delegates at our symposium, with the caveat that small contracts Our research showed that while must mean small packages of work, ICT procurement has improved and that the contract cost must be in the UK since its worse points correspondingly low. // The UK’s public sector has struggled to effectively procure and apply technology, leading to higher costs than other countries and a bias towards large projects which often fail to meet all their targets. We suggest that dividing projects into smaller, off-the-shelf rather than highly customised, packages of work and the retention of more internal expertise on technology could lead to more successful use of technology in the public sector. Publishing more data on government ICT procurement could also improve transparency and accountability. 31// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • New Energy-efficient Services energy and have correspondingly ICT already has a significant enormous footprints. One study carbon footprint – primarily due estimates that, even taking into to the manufacture and use of account its growth, ICT could offset PCs, data centres infrastructure its own footprint by up to five times, and other devices – which in 2007 enabling a society that is radically was estimated to contribute 2% more parsimonious with its of global carbon emissions, a resource use. figure comparable to the global contribution that aviation made in ICT could achieve this partly the same yearXXX . In spite of efforts through using the internet to replace to reduce its impact, ICT’s footprint activities such as commuting and is expected to rise at rate of 6% per business travel with teleworking year until 2020. and teleconferencing, by replacing paper mailing with online However our research shows that communications, by replacing high- ICT is unusual, in that it enables street shopping with e-commerce new ways of living and working that and by replacing physical could completely replace some media such as CDs and DVDs with practices that consume even more digital media. // ICT has a significant environmental cost, but the benefits it brings through replacing resource-intensive current practices with alternatives could offset this footprint by as much as five times. We suggest that a greater emphasis is placed on ICT as an instrument to bring about a more sustainable society. “Make Measurable managers say: what gets measured What is Not So” gets managed. Measuring resource The world wide web is not the only use more accurately and frequently way in which ICT could help society and conveying that information become more parsimonious. Digital to where it is most required is the connectivity, as well as enabling first step in reducing waste, and an people to communicate across obvious and important application distances, also allows machines to of ICT. communicate – which opens the door to new levels of control over our Currently we do not appear to be distribution and consumption measuring our resource use nearly of resources. as much as we need to. Taking energy as an example, Galileo said “measure what is consumers have no idea how much measurable, and make measurable energy they are consuming, and what is not so” – or as modern day suppliers have only a little more. 32// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • The next generation of electricity The smart grid also formed part grids could change the way that of the government’s American energy is consumed in buildings Recovery and Reinvestment Act – by making energy consumption with over $11 billion earmarked to measurable and manageable. fund it. Six trial projects have been funded to date at a cost of over $47 ICT could be applied in the million. In the UK, the Department for form of sensors, smart-meters Energy and Climate Change have and communication lines to the shown interest in smart grids, but infrastructure that distributes no firm commitments have yet resources. A smarter electricity grid, been made. would allow electricity distribution to become less centralised, allowing Energy use in buildings is only individuals to contribute their own one area in which we waste electricity to the grid more easily, resources. There are also enormous and would be more energy- applications for ICT in the efficient resilient. area of transportation, such as telecommuting, teleconferencing The benefits of the smart electricity and smarter vehicles and traffic grid have been estimated at; infrastructure. For example, existing reduced transmission and studies show that greater take-up of distribution losses (8%), reduced telecommuting could reduce most congestion (2%), improved people’s commuting GHG emissions energy efficiency (6%), improved about 75%. If telecommuting was reliability and power quality (49%), adopted by 10% of the population, and reduced operations and a saving of 43 mega tonnes of CO2 maintenance(19%). The US National could be achievedXXXII . Energy Technology Laboratory estimates that these benefits Transformations outweigh the investment cost by a A smart electricity grid is just factor of four to one. They estimate one example of how machine that the grid will require $165 billion to machine connectivity could over the following twenty years, enable parsimony in resource but will benefit society by between consumption. The “internet of $638 and $802 billion. The direct things” describes the extension of environmental benefits of such a internet connectivity to all devices: grid are therefore about 14%, which from fast-moving consumer goods could make a valuable contribution to engine components. Often towards the UK’s carbon budgets. described as the addition of radio frequency identification tags to Smart grids are at a comparatively components, the internet of things advanced state in some countries. essentially means that everything Italy’s smart grid was completed will be traceable throughout its in 2005, where it saves 500 million lifetime. Although a controversial (project cost 2.1 billion) each year. idea with a multitude of privacy In the US, VCs have invested $1 issues, the internet of things could billion dollars over the last few years have transformational potential for in smart grid companies. environmental sustainability. 33// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • As sensors miniaturise and become any component or product – from a less expensive, and ambient and can of coke to a car to take its place wireless connectivity becomes the in a circular, closed-loop economy. norm, the internet of things could Tags could hold information about open a door to a dramatically the manufacturer of a finished transformational shift from an product, enabling a truly cradle to ownership economy towards a cradle approach to the way that service economy. we use, re-use and recycle our natural resources. Companies such as Xerox and Rolls Royce are well known for their Both large and small (one start- service business models, where up have developed a platform clients buy a photocopying service to aggregate energy and other or hours of flying time rather than data from a variety of sources) photocopiers or airplanes. Adding technology companies are heavily ubiquitous ICT, through RFD tags or innovating in this field. other wireless sensors could allow //ICT has a significant environmental cost, but the benefits it brings through replacing resource-intensive current practices with alternatives could offset this footprint by as much as five times. We suggest that a greater emphasis is placed on ICT as an instrument to bring about a more sustainable society. 34// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 6.3. DECENTRALISED// The low level of trust between citizens and government, and the observation that citizens seem more passive and less engaged than before are worrying signs in a cold climate. The experience of Canada, as well as the simple truth that people will need to become more self-reliant in an age of austerity indicate that decentralisation of power and responsibility is important. Personal Data “volunteered personal data”, which Research into the rapid increase would allow individuals to own some in personal data held by the parts of their data and release it to government indicates that two government to the extent they wish. thirds of the population do not trust the government with their personal Public Service Co-production dataXXXIII. This has been accentuated In addition to highlighting ways by recent high profile cases of data in which ICT could deliver public loss, and reports that the amount of services in a more cost-effective data held by the government has manner, our research also explored risen rapidly. Our research reported the possibilities of using technology a “big database” mentality in central to forge more innovative services. government, and noted that such For example, the ability of web 2.0 large databases were unnecessary applications allows people to leave and linked to the problem of large feedback in the form of comments contracts. Instead it was suggested or star ratings on the public services that more effective use of existing they have experienced. databases be made. These actions create information that the government can use to Personal data, although a topic of improve services, and also significant debate and a factor in allows other people to make more the distrust between citizens and informed choices. government did not feature highly in A variety of low-cost websites offer our commissioned research, but was such services, and although some mentioned at several points. lessons from these sites have been One proposed alternative to adopted into official public sector government-held data was to websites, such as NHS choices, this decentralise it in the form of new way of working is not an easy fit 35// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • for government’s traditional modes a variety of services to create of operation. innovative new public services. Websites such as WhatDoTheyKnow. Taking such “co-production” of com make it easy for public services further, the release individuals to submit freedom of of public sector data allows civic- information requests. minded individuals with the right skills to “mash” data together from // Encouraging greater communication and higher levels of engagement between people and the government will be important in difficult times. We suggest that online public services provide an excellent enabler of co-production between public servants and people. More online services should be designed to encourage and harness this collective knowledge using features like comments and ratings. Making Sense of Data: but rich way to present relevant Augmented Reality & Nudging information to people. We live in the information age, and The potential of such information there is little likelihood of the amount is significant; for example, the of information we come into contact importance of encouraging with reducing in the near future. “behaviour change” is recognised Our research indicates that, as across both political parties. digital connectivity speeds increase In a speech at the RSA in 2007, and the devices that we use to David Cameron cited various recent access digital networks decrease in examples of physical assaults and size, information is likely to become said “My belief in social responsibility more integrated in our lifestyles. is not a laissez-faire manifesto. I believe that government has Integration is already happening a vital role to play in changing through the emergence of social behaviour”XXXIV . Likewise the augmented reality; the layering of present government has carried data over the real world. out a growing amount of research Early applications for devices such over the last five years into more as the iPhone use the device’s sophisticated ways in which people internal GPS, electronic compass can be encouraged to eat more and screen to overlay information healthily, drink less alcohol, take on tourist sites, travel networks and fewer drugs, consume less energy shared workspaces. This location- and generate less waste. aware layer of data creates a simple 36// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Encouraging behaviour change is ICT can help us visualise and project rightly regarded as a challenge, but information into the future – could here too, ICT has a valuable role to show us the effect that switching play. Presenting the right information that light off could have, or eating at the right time has been shown that food, or doing our morning to enable people to take more exercises. Could also help policy responsibility for their behaviour. makers make better decisions; how The most common example being would Copenhagen be different that of real-time energy displays, if negotiators could see the effect which trials indicate when installed of their country’s commitment in peoples’ homes, result in 5-15% projected into the future? reduction in energy consumption. // The trend towards constant and mobile digital connectivity and the welcome launch of more public sector data could be used to significant effect by helping people to visualise the effect of their personal actions on their own health or the natural environment. We suggest that government become more aware of the new possibilities that mobile technology platforms enable. 37// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 6.4. PURPOSIVE// Innovation is always key in an environment of global competition, but the challenges of the cold climate make it critical to achieving our goals for society. We suggest that the pressures of the cold climate first require innovation to be sufficiently occurring and to be effectively supported, and secondly, must be purposive. The State of Innovation identified the role of lead markets Our research showed that while and particularly the government’s there are gaps and weaknesses in role of public procurement as critical UK innovation, the UK has to supporting innovation. had several successes across different areas of innovation and However in addition to these innovation policy. reasons for optimism, the research also highlighted two weaknesses First, the UK is home to creative of innovation in the UK. First that individuals, with a world-renowned business and government invest design consultancy sector. less in research and development The higher education system is than comparable economies, and extremely successful with two second that while the UK has a fairly universities in the world top ten good record of entrepreneurship, we and five in the world top fifty, and a are less successful at growing and good record of licensing, spin-outs sustaining such small businesses. and knowledge transfer activity. Knowledge exchange is successfully Our research showed that the UK, achieved through the exchange of although often representing itself as personnel between public an advanced knowledge economy, and private sectors, and falls behind many countries in the through the Knowledge Transfer amount it invests in R&D. Although Partnership schemes. investment in innovation can take other forms than simply R&D, the Second, the important role of proportion of GDP invested in R&D demand-led measures to encourage still gives a rough indication of how and support innovation have seriously a country takes innovation. become recognised across Europe, In 2006, the UK invested 1.47% of and recent publications have clearly GDP in R&D – below average for 38// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • the EU 27, and only just above particularly difficult. Various reasons China’s 1.42%. Taking into account are to blame for this. Cultural issues investment other than percentage may be partly to blame, if the spent on R&D; for example that entrepreneur is not interested in spent on plant, equipment, training, growing the business, or conversely design and software, the UK could keen to quickly sell up and move on still considered an ‘innovation to their next venture. Another trend leader’ within Europe but not on an is that various foreign companies international playing field. are keen to invest in UK innovations, which can have two negative (for Our research also highlighted the UK) side-effects; a reduction that he UK tends to have a good in R&D (often re-located to foreign record of creative entrepreneurship, sites) and the loss of headquarters; but it routinely fails to develop which are known to have an these fledgling businesses into important ‘multiplier’ effect in their large firms. The transition period surrounding area. in developing into a large SME is // The UK considers itself an advanced-knowledge economy, but although it has some excellent innovation policies and mechanisms, it does not seem to have implemented these well, leading to lower levels of R&D investment and a poor record of exploiting knowledge to full advantage. We suggest that the UK’s position is critically assessed, and that innovation policies are more proactively evaluated throughout their lifetime. 39// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Purposive Innovation tackled by innovation platforms from As Matthew Taylor notes in the the Technology Strategy Board and foreword, the challenges of the Research Councils. Sustainability is cold climate are such that it is not one such challenge and represent sufficient to simply innovate out opportunities for new markets in of the recession, we must also be innovative products and services innovating in the direction of the that exploit the need for a low- society we want. carbon and resource-light society. Our research showed that the UK Our research indicated however that is moving in the right direction, although the UK has been strong having taken on board the fact at foresight in the past, that there is that many of the issues facing a need for a deeper conversation today’s society are complex and between government and business inter-disciplinary. Such “grand to establish which technologies and challenges”, like those brought markets we must be supporting over on by the cold climate, are being the coming years. // There does not seem to be a sufficiently strong discourse between policy makers and business regarding the nature of the society we are aiming towards and the role that technology could play. There is a need for more collaborative foresight work to establish a clearer vision of the society we aspire to and the markets and technologies which will be required to support it. Supporting Demand Led Purposive measures like energy efficiency, Innovation improved water infrastructure, Our research also highlighted renewable energy, and other low the role of the public sector carbon initiatives. in encouraging demand-led innovation. In common with other China’s package devoted 38% of its governments, the UK responded (in total stimulus to developing more the 2008 pre-budget report and 2009 sustainable rail, grid and water budget) to the recession with a short infrastructure. This has included term stimulus package designed cutting sales tax on cars with to galvanise UK business. Many smaller engines, subsidies for the such packages were also intended development of electric vehicles, to stimulate environmentally significant investment in building sustainable development as well as new rail track, and an improved economic recovery – with countries electricity grid. It has also earmarked such as China and the US leading money to invest in broader the way allocating $221 billion environmental protection such as and $112 billion respectively for sewage treatment. The American 40// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • Recovery and Reinvestment Act aims protection measures like flood to encourage renewable energy, protection and the reliable supply of building efficiency, low-carbon clean water. vehicles, mass transit, better grids and water through 12% of its total The UK’s package trails slightly in stimulus. This has included significant the sustainability stakes by devoting benefits to renewable energy $2 billion, or 7% of its total stimulus suppliers; tax credits and subsidies package to green measures. This to encourage plant construction, contained stimulus for low-carbon but also a commitment to Carbon power, energy efficiency, modal Capture and Storage demonstration shift and low-carbon vehicles and projects. Energy efficiency benefits adaptation plans for flood defences. in the shape of funding for energy The UK’s stimulus package seems saving programmes, tax credits to have been comparatively weak, for energy efficiency measures both in terms of size and likely in the built environment, with impact. It seems unlikely that future significant amounts also invested stimulus packages will be made in the electricity grid and transport available, but there is still a key (funding to develop advanced role for government encouraging batteries, incentives for plug-in purposive innovation through public hybrid cars, mass transit). Money sector procurement. is also set aside for environmental // Demand-led innovation is critical for the future success of the UK’s technology sector. Such demand could be stimulated through incentive schemes and demonstration programmes and also by changing how firms view innovation and growth. There is also a key role for public sector procurement to stimulate the right sort of demand. 41// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 7. SUMMARY// Technology is a powerful tool in the face of challenges of difficult economic times and seemingly huge problems like unsustainability climate change. However it is a tool that we do not so far seem effective at using. Examples from other countries show that the benefits of general purpose technologies like ICT have been clearly seized by country’s across the world, but the UK’s experience to date suggests that there is still plenty of room for improvement. Though Technology in a Cold to become parsimonious and Climate has been a brisk project, decentralised, and we present the combination of perspectives our suggestions as avenues for from academic, policy and business further exploration in the process have been combined to give a of learning to use technology more relatively consensual snapshot of the effectively. Although there is no current issues around the potential doubt we face difficult times, the UK of technology in difficult times. could seize on the difficult times and use tools like technology to convert It seems clear that the principal the challenges into the foundation value lies in those that are versatile, of the next phase of efficient and purposive and enable society sustainable growth. 42// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • 8. REFERENCES// I http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=12 II Matt Jones, Get Excited and Make Things, November 2009, http://magicalnihilism.com/2009/11/07/get-excited-and-make-things/ III Luke Johnson, IV Matthew Taylor, A new politics: Citizens not consumers, June 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/03/a-new-politics-constitutional- reform2 V See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122721278056345271.html VI Office for National Statistics, UK Government Debt & Deficit, September 2009, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=277 VII BBC News, Deficit ‘danger’ worries Cameron, October 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8289350.stm VIII Institute for Fiscal Studies, Loosening public services squeeze requires tax rises or welfare cuts, September 2009, http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/4618 IX David Halpern and Jerrett Myers, Think tank: A model of brutality Britain can build on, May 2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article6210977.ece X See http://www.edelman.co.uk/mid-year-trust-2009/omnibus-poll-findings/ XI BBC News, Global crisis ‘to strike by 2030’, March 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7951838.stm XII United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision, 2009, http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm XIII Office for National Statistics, National Projections, November 2009, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1352 XIV Office for National Statistics, Ageing, November 2009, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=949 XV WWF, Living Planet Report 2008, 2008, http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/lpr_2008/ XVI Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_ wg1_report_the_physical_science_basis.htm XVII HM Government, Climate Change Act 2008, 2008, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080027_en_1 43// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
  • XVIII Committee on Climate Change, Carbon Budgets, http://www.theccc.org.uk/carbon-budgets XIX Helen Margetts, Technology in a Cold Climate: Public Services, 2009 XX Jeremy Howells, Technology in a Cold Climate: Supporting Innovation, 2009 XXI Jonathan Liebenau, Innovation Trends: Prioritising Emerging Technologies Shaping the UK to 2017, 2007, http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file39041.pdf XXII Dennis Pamlin, Technology in a Cold Climate: Sustainable Technology, 2009 XXIII John Farrington, Peter Edwards and Sarah Skerratt, Technology in a Cold Climate: Interconnected Society, 2009 XXIV Economist Intelligence Unit, E-readiness rankings 2009 The usage imperative, 2009, http://graphics.eiu.com/pdf/E-readiness%20rankings.pdf XXV OFCOM, Access and Inclusion, 2009, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/access/ai_statement/ai_statement.pdf XXVI National Statistics, Internet Access, 2009, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=8 XXVII OFCOM, UK Broadband Speeds 2009, 2009, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/telecoms/reports/broadband_speeds/broadband_ speeds/broadbandspeeds.pdf XXVIII Jonathan Liebenau, Robert Atkinson, Patrik Kärrberg, Daniel Castro and Stephen Ezell, The UK’s Digital Road to Recovery, 2009, http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/23830/ XXIX William Dutton, Ellen Helsper, Monica Gerber, The Internet in Britain 2009, http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/oxis/OxIS2009_Report.pdf XXX See http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=503867 XXXII WWF, The potential global CO2 reductions from ICT use, 2008, http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/ict/ XXXIII Ross Anderson, Ian Brown, Terri Dowty, Philip Inglesant, William Heath, Angela Sasse, Database State, 2009 XXXIV D Cameron, Civility and Social Progress, 2007 44// TECHNOLOGY IN A COLD CLIMATE
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