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Future Threat To British Cities, Warns Urban Innovation CEO



City by Matt Brown via flickr

In a HuffPost blog published on Friday, CEO of Future Cities Catapult, the Government-supported UK Urban Innovation Centre of Excellence, warns against cities’ vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks, flooding, robots and far-right politicians.

Setting out his thoughts for urban innovation in 2017, Peter Madden talks of improbable but not impossible events that cities could face in the future. He questions if 2017 could be the year a major cyber-attack cripples the infrastructure and functioning of a leading UK city, or the year a populist far-right politician becomes mayor of a combined authority. This could even the year displaced workers take direct action against automation by destroying robots.

The CEO suggests tackling inequality will be a greater focus for cities – a theme already identified in the elections of Sadiq Khan in London and Marvin Reese in Bristol. He argues that in the post-Brexit fall out, there’s added urgency to addressing the structural problems of inequality, which play out particularly acutely in the urban contest.

Suspecting that financial constraints will bite hard in 2017 as local authorities adjust to further tightening, Peter Madden questions how cities will pay to get stuff done. Highlighting how pioneering cities are experimenting in how to decrease costs, earn money and attract investment, he highlights initiatives in Wolverhampton, Cheshire East and Aberdeen that demonstrate municipal entrepreneurialism.

Predicting that UK cities will become more international-facing after increasingly flexing their muscles in international politics, the CEO expects to see a resurgence in city-to-city diplomacy, reflecting the wider spirit of decentralisation and metropolitan statesmanship.

Mr Madden also suggests that 2017 might be the year of radical service transformation, following irreconcilable pressures on services that have been growing for a number of years. This is particularly prevalent in housing and adult social care. Whilst central government is giving Local Authorities permission to increase council tax to pay for adult social care, this is unlikely to be enough. Might this be the year that salami-slicing in local funding runs out of sausage?


A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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