Monday, May 11, 2020

How do we get back to work safely?

Personal Pod, Protection.

As we all go back to work, office managers, factory bosses and headteachers are having to get creative to protect their employees and students.

The real problem is getting enough people into small areas to be effective.

One of the solutions is to think in terms of ‘pods’. For example, a bus driver sits in a pod. It is not a very good defence against the  Covid19 virus. But screens can be used and the driver can be further protected by injecting filtered air into the cab.

Positive pressure

Positive pressure ensures that viruses do not enter the cab/pod. Ingress of virus-carrying particles from passengers cannot enter the cab, and the technology both exist as do the machines to achieve the result.

Building the pods will require some creative designs that, for example, fit around desks and other work stations but the furniture industry in the UK is up to the job.

Already there are home pods for both in and outdoors.

The same basic idea can be applied to people working in spaces like factories and offices and for children at school.

In your face

Face Shield Visor Protection Adjustable Anti-Saliva Anti-Fog Full Face Cover Clear Safety Face Mask are, of course, a very useful addition to PPE at work.

The new workplace looks like its going to be very pleasant.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

From Covid19 to Climate20

Climate change is a crisis in waiting. It comes on the heels of Covid19. 11000 people die of atmospheric pollution each year. In the UK and during the lockdown the sky was bluer and birdsong more evident.

Roads and trains were no longer crammed at rush hour. The vapour trails vanished and the roar of planes was hushed.

We began to see what climate control measures might look like.

Our experience of Covid19 offers us an opportunity to harness the capability of the nation to take huge steps in reducing the climate effects on our civilisation.

We have learned that when the imperative is life-threatening then we can harness the skills of scientists, engineers, companies and drive in Westminster and Whitehall to achieve great things.

This essay is going to look at some of the ideas that spring to mind.

Back into the air

In less than a year, all British commercial aircraft could be fitted with new none-polluting engines. Hundreds of planes are parked up around the country. There is a need to get them back in business. A conglomerate of financial, engineering, and academic investors supported by the government to remove roadblocks on the way just needs to be driven to succeed in weeks not years.

It may be hydrogen engines or some other technology but is needed as urgently as a Coronavirus vaccine.  There are hundreds of planes that need such engines. Retrofitting them will be a big challenge but the advantages are clear. People all around the world can elect to fly ‘green’.  Our mothballed aircraft fleet can get back in business and turn a disadvantage into new wealth creation.

Every aircraft fleet in the world would, in due course, need conversion and new planes fitted with these engines too. This is an economic driver that we need for our engineering sector. It would help fire-up the economy too.

We are going to need more jobs, more electricity, more factories and more houses.

We need more electricity and we need to be able to store it.

Getting roofs to work

The solution to one could be the solution to the others.

Perhaps it should be mandatory for every new roof and wall to have solar panels as part of the initial specification. No ifs, no buts, no delays. Just do it. It does not cost the exchequer a dime. It is a cost in the purchase of the property and generates power and associated wealth.

Factories and warehouses have huge roofs that are not used to help the economy or reduce damage to the climate. Fitting solar cells on such buildings could be a big employment creation programme. By tieing Corona19 subsidies to the reduction of energy pollution, there can be enough incentive to provide a huge benefit to the economy and power resource.

Solar and wind power is erratic and often generates electricity when it cannot be used. We know the solution. It is in a new generation of batteries.

So far there is not a suitable, none polluting (in production and in application),  battery available.  It is time to get back to financial, engineering and academic investors supported by the government to remove roadblocks and make very high spec battery development and deployment a priority.

Boats and trains and things

Of course, there is a need for complementary applied R&D for developing power packs for ships, lorries, trains, agricultural machinery, and other power-hungry activities. 

Hydrogen and/or batteries can step in and fill the gap. This calls for parallel development and as much urgency. 

The development of electric cars is well underway.  There is still a need for greater optimisation of batteries for cars but the technology already needs to be adopted faster.

It is time that the conversion of internal combustion engines to electric traction was simplified. There is a massive world market for such capabilities. There will be a need to examine the legal and regulatory environments and the technical issues also need to be resolved. Every vehicle service business should be able to learn how to convert at a reasonable cost. Should the cost per mile make conversion viable, this will be a great advance in reducing motor pollution.

To help reduce congestion, pollution and noise, electric-powered mopeds should help. This is an initiative already in process.

Plastics are a pain. 

The none degradable nature of it is one of the big pollutants in the world.

There are many substitutes that can replace plastic from bottles to sponges, ropes to top fashions materials and fisherman’s nets. These substitutes are bio-degradable, super-performing and cheaper than many of the materials generally in use today.

The big problem is in getting them to the end-user. From fashion to building bricks, there is a need to replace the present materials.

A rule that all none degradable materials should carry a significant None Degradeable Badge (NDB) is a way of both taxing the use of polluting materials and a warning for consumers. Consumer pressure will be a powerful dynamic for change.

It would seem there is a lot that can be done.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Escaping Covid 19 Public Building Dynamic

Escaping Covid 19 Public Building Dynamic 

The Health Service

The amazing speed that exhibition buildings transformed into hospitals points the way to fast expansion of the national health hospitals and other facilities.

Every city now has empty warehouses. Some of them are very big.
These are big empty buildings with key services already up and running. Electricity, gas, wifi, heating water and sewage are all ready to go. Now these premises need to be converted into hospitals. Or specialist health service facilities. 

The bureaucratic hoops will have to be resolved. For example, Planning Authorities will need to be much more flexible.

We know that it takes no more than a few weeks to convert such a building with the experience of developing Nightingale hospitals.

There may be a requirement for added facilities but parallel development can reduce the time taken.

A dynamic drive to add facilities using existing buildings would save costs and deliver these much needed added facilities at speed.

Keeping social distances in Courts

As with hospitals, there are already existing buildings that can be repurposed and equipped as law courts.

The need for new designs is obvious. For the Judiciary, Clerks, Defendants, Prosecuting and Defending Council, as well as witnesses, will have to be considered. 

Some of this will be offered in the physical layout of the buildings but the use of more advanced communication will also be important. Witnesses can use virtual conferencing (and there is absolutely no need for some special alternative to existing services).  Application of Augmented Reality to display locations and other evidence will be helpful inexpensive, timesaving and cost reducing. Of course, one would expect verbatim speech to text to record proceedings. This may need legislation to achieve but is a good outcome we have developed during the Covid19 experience. 
Ancient planning restrictions will, of course, have to be revised. But why do we need warehouses separate from shops?

The cost of expert witnesses and other participants can be reduced by using virtual communication and costs to reflect the reduction in time, travel and on-costs.

A high powered and empowered design and development team will be needed to propose a path forward. A parallel development is quite possible to introduce these developments in weeks and moths and not years.

 Public Offices

Public offices, like other public sector buildings and schools, will need to be re-configured. 

Homeworking and split-shift working are much more common and the needs of people working from home requires work. Things like wifi and cellular data (wifi is just not up to the job yet - Covid19 connectivity demonstrated how dismal some connections are. 

For public service workers, there is a need for re-configured office layout and facilities for people working full time and part-time from home. Computers, ergonomic desks and chairs, cameras, microphones and headsets need to be to at a minimum home standard. Screens need to be able to perform the tasks required of them (plus virtual and augmented reality capabilities). 

Local and national sourcing will need to be the prefered resource to put associated costs like these back into the economy.  

The British furniture design and production sectors are more than capable to provide the world-leading expertise and capacity to execute this change and spread design expertise and production costs over a large number of public buildings.

Schools and further education

The social and economic cost of schooling is very high. In addition to teaching and social integration, there is a domestic cost. School hours are as inconvenient as it is possible to get. The pencil and paper nature of homework is also very old fashioned.

The Covid19 experience of home education has given a number of clues as to what can be achieved and its failings. 

Providing home and community space for homework with online assistance using digital conferencing, social media, AR, VR and other technologies is a challenge. 

The cost of the change is going to be high but there is a way of mitigating costs.

There is a fixation of public facilities being for the public sector. Offering advanced facilities to both the voluntary and commercial sectors will have a number of benefits. The cost can be shared but much more important, the public sector can be an exemplar and show voluntary and business parts of the economy the advantages of using their advanced facilities. Excellence in the public sector matched by excellence in the voluntary and business sector will be a major economic driver.

Perhaps it seems hard to re-imagine a school with small business offices and workshops as part of the infrastructure.

Future schools will also need to have social distancing as well as different out-doors and social interaction spaces.

Classes able to be delivered electronically and in social separating, classrooms need to be thought through with the government using the professions to provide advice and legal frameworks.  

The cost can be shared but much more important the public sector can show voluntary and business parts of the economy the advantages of using their advanced facilities. 

Excellence in the public sector matched by excellence in the voluntary and business sector will be a major economic driver.

We need more ideas.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Escaping Covid19. The High Street

Escaping Covid19 part1 - the high street

Blending Covid protection with residential, shops, office and commercial areas, such as bars, restaurants, cafes and local commerce, attracts people and makes the environment safer and friendlier. The high street is a major driver of the UK economy. How do we unlock it? That is what this essay is all about.

Unlocking the High Street.

There are many projects under consideration for reviving the high street.

It is time to think radically and maybe-recast/advance the HM Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sports Heritage High Street Fund initiative.

The need to get the high street economy going is urgent and there are some things that can be implemented quickly under the present emergency legislation framework.

It is a critical need and needs big brains and dynamic capabilities to deliver fast (weeks, not months).

It is not the mega gallery and colour of the pedestrianisation, paving that most high streets need. They are nice-to-haves.  It is a simple way to bring footfall for daily necessities, niche products and services, entertainment and professions.

It’s time to have some ideas. Here are a few from me.

Marking out the High Street

The personal distancing project has been very successful and is working well in most supermarkets. Expanding this idea to small high streets would seem to be a challenge.  But it is not and could be a local authority money-spinner.

A solution might be to mark out pavements at 2-metre intervals for ques to high street premises.

This is an idea that can be developed into a revenue-creating project by using the two-metre strips as Augmented Reality (AR) sources using mobile phones. These can be a combination of commercial and public service advertisements, entertainments and information about the town/street etc. Paid for advertisements will be a long term revenue source (perhaps a revenue stream to replace rates).

These facilities can also be used to offer on-street AR entertainments.

High Street C+ checks

It is possible to check the temperature of people passing down the high street and/or entering shops. If these people show a rise in temperature, they can be offered on-the-spot tests and invited to return home and self isolate until the results arrive.

High Streets can also be a location for testing franchises in shops/pharmacists by charging a nominal fee to the public for Covid19 testing. Such centres can also be locations for automated/ semi-automated testing for more than Corona19, such as to spot early signs of, for example, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. Such tests, overseen by the NHS, can bring comfort to the paying public and can inform them and the NHS/GP’s of pending requirements.

Such activities need to be monitored (and the data collected to be made available in such a form that it can be fed into a central health database - unlike the mismatch and wide range of other health databases).


The need to bring the nation’s architects, interior designers and furniture manufacturers and sector representatives together to help design and reconfigure Pubs, cafe’s, libraries and (Virtual Reality) museums. 

Public places can be re-designed to aid keeping people apart, protected behind screens or air barriers etc. Such innovators can open up a lot of establishments. 

This also needs a dynamic push to be implemented in weeks not months.

Street cinema can be considered and we have seen virtual musicians each playing from home and part of a band. These concerts can be broadcast to big crowds, each in a square marked on the ground (see above) in high streets alongside other digital entertainments supported by food vendors and the like.

Bring Back Fashion

PPE for the public is completely possible. Inviting the nation’s leading fashion houses to create PPE fashion for the public is not impossible. A competition by the fashion industry is urgently needed for small high street fashion shops (manufactured in the UK? And only available outside the big shopping malls?). And, after PPE what about working from home? Is there a Lockdown hobby market day as an outlet for all those stichers, sewers and garden shed carpenters. Home sticking is massive. Why not harness it?

The idea of a child wearing PPE is a stretch of the imagination.  But if it was disguised as a Darth Vader costume every 8-year-old boy would join the queue. Bat Woman will never be the same.

High Street Click and Collect

Starship robots expand into Central Milton Keynes delivering lunch ...

High Street ‘click and collect’ shops are needed and can be run as co-operatives or by volunteers. With landlords contributing towards premises and web capability for shops including smaller retailers that normally would not be able to run to such facilities.  The High Street has to be used to bring higher footfall.

In the meantime, Starship robots are needed in a variety of rolls and would be entertainment in their own right. Every High street should have one - or a phalanx?

Bring back the professionals

Looking up at all those offices, it would seem they need a bit of a brush-up and an incentive to be repurposed.

The big question is ‘who are the professionals’. Google has done a good job in taking the traditional legal and financial professional from the high street.

The AR designers are the new professionals. VR creators are with them too. The last few weeks has been a bonanza for early teens showing brothers and mums how to use Zoom. Online conferencing is big. Most organisations need such capability. Looking for these entrepreneurs and giving the opportunities to work in dynamic high streets is a major task. At present many of the new professionals have been forced onto out of town industrial estates. It is time to bring them back to the high street.

Now it's time for all of us to add ideas.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

AI in PR Management

I am very sorry not to be at the CIPR Big Data Conference today, because I am unsure how acceptable my thinking could be.  My thinking threatens PR practice as we know it.

We will soon move to a capability that can predict the nature of client relationships as they morph and change.

Hocus Pocus I hear you say.

Let me explain.

It is possible to collect data from search activity from Google, user activity in Facebook and Twitter, new and changed content in Website and much much more.

It can be collected about an organisation, its competitors and industry and national and local content and much, much more.

we can match this information to time, dates, authors, and followers. I leave it to your imagination as the many sources that can be used.

This is PR Big Data.

In no time at all, it becomes too big to maintain on a PR consultancy PC and has to be kept in 'in the cloud'. in a form that allows for heavy-duty computing. A resource like this is available from Google and  IBM and many more.

The first activity is to apply Big Data Analytics to clean the data and get shot of spam etc.

Now, with clean data, we can start to process the content for use in PR.

We need to identify who the contributors are, what subject area do they focus on, how often, when and where from etc. Are these contributors regular contributors or, from responses do they have a particular interest or focus on the subject being written about the organisation (re-tweets etc).

From their contributions, we can identify their attitude to the client industry sector, social issue, political leaning and much more (and such capabilities already are in use today).

This so far is simple deep data mining and not Artificial Intelligence.

But now comes the interesting part.

We can now start using AI.

AI analysis will evidence who leads the conversation and about who and what aspects of the discussion is about the client and competitors. It will map the history of subject interest and who clusters around this subject and who leads the conversation.

This can be offered in time sequence and thus a picture will emerge of the Client Relationships, the nature of the relationships and which relationships need to be addressed because of opportunity or misunderstanding.

In addition, the data will show how fast issues that affect relationships are developing and is this relationship improving or declining. Additionally, the analysis will show the rate of change in the up until today by month, week, day, hour and minute.

Now comes the clever bit.

Because there is a history emerging from there data (and there is by now a ton of it), it is possible to predict what will happen next and to asses the likely hood of such predictions coming to pass.

In addition, the Consultancy response to such activity will emerge and the AI programme will begin to predict what the usual response (social media, conference, event, meeting all the tools we know about) for each movement in the database. AI will then begin to offer advice based on the historic activity and its effect (AI is very good at identifying actions and effects over time).

There is also a very big role in issues and crisis management.

Stop there. How on earth does the practitioner cope with all this information. A spreadsheet of such content would be a dazzling array of meaningless numbers.

We need the means to create a visual display because we can process visual clues faster than numbers and can process more information.

Here is where Virtual Reality comes into its own. It can show the data and how relationships have been developing over time. In addition, it can show what is probably going to happen (with a prediction of certainty) and, of course, it can offer a solution based on past practice. It will show such content as it were in a galaxy of stars that presents a picture of the organisation's (changing) relationships.

Now, the strategic PR person can draw up plans and employ the Communications Agency (call it marketing if you like)  to implement the plan.

Big data and AI changes PR.

What of the consequences?

The sentient Consultant with this kind of capability will be of a different order to most other Agencies and practitioners without such tools will be at a competitive disadvantage and so too will their clients.

Things like monitoring, evaluation, landscaping etc all become subsumed into an AI form of practice.

Welcome to today!