Smart moves desperately needed

THINK George Square.

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Now convince me a "smart city" award is not like Baghdad getting the Nobel Peace Prize.

We've trousered a £24million UK government grant from their Technology Strategy Board (the only TSB which is giving away money these days).

Glasgow is now a Future Cities Demonstrator, the UK guinea pig for introducing ICTs – that's Information and Communication Technologies.

We won the cash ahead of 30 other cities, so must assume the TSB vote was taken before the George Square shambles.

And luckily for Glasgow they didn't emulate its own city council in setting aside the verdict of the judging panel.

In truth, Glasgow has won this award because we're seen as anything but smart.

As TSB project leader Scott Cain said: "Glasgow has quite extreme challenges. It has the lowest life expectancy of any city in the UK, for instance, and the hope is to make it more efficient and a better place to live."

In other words, with all our problems, if the world-wide concept of 'Smart Cities' can work here it can work anywhere.

Take roads, housing, education, public safety, healthcare, gas and electric, water, waste, traffic management, telecoms, and the sundry council and government services.

The basic idea is to get them all talking to one another, linking the data to a network command where it is monitored and analysed to make services more efficient.

Of course, it would be a start if councillors talked to the citizens, but we can't be too ambitious. As someone said, you can't manage what you can't measure, so expect thousands more cameras and sensors across the city.

We're already hearing of smart phone apps for the public to report potholes, fly-tipping, broken streetlamps and the like and log their GPS location.

Other apps show drivers the nearest available parking spots (and judging from City Parking's lack of profit for five straight years there must be plenty spaces available).

We can have the same for crime, weather, traffic – you name it, the list is endless.

If the TSB is smart, the City Chambers' current incumbents will be kept at arm's-length from any Smart City vision.

Their shameful waste of £100,000 in the botched Square revamp was merely the latest example of why they can't be trusted.

We had the George Square cafe fiasco under the previous Labour leader, Steven Purcell, who like current city council leader Gordon Matheson was also "listening to the people" when he scrapped the plans.

Nobody was listening last year amid the chaos over snubbed commissions to redevelop the Kelvin Hall and the Citizens Theatre.

With luck we'll get joined-up thinking when the Square is dug up to remove the red Tarmac in its makeover.

There's talk of laying power and internet cabling and creating future access.

They should also bury plans to expand our shopping experience by removing the Royal Concert Hall steps behind Donald Dewar's statue.

Now that would be smart.

IF you're going to fall ill, make sure you don't do it on a bank holiday.

People facing an emergency visit to a hospital in Britain on those days are 48% more likely to die.

The reason for the higher rates is that there are fewer doctors on duty.

X-ray departments and operating theatres are closed over weekends and holidays, which is more than 100 days a year.

We may live in a 24/7 world but we don't have enough qualified medical staff to provide a matching service.

THINK George Square. Now convince me a "smart city" award is not like Baghdad getting the Nobel Peace Prize.

We've trousered a £24million UK government grant from their Technology Strategy Board (the only TSB which is giving away money these days).

Glasgow is now a Future Cities Demonstrator, the UK guinea pig for introducing ICTs – that's Information and Communication Technologies.

We won the cash ahead of 30 other cities, so must assume the TSB vote was taken before the George Square shambles.

And luckily for Glasgow they didn't emulate its own city council in setting aside the verdict of the judging panel.

In truth, Glasgow has won this award because we're seen as anything but smart.

As TSB project leader Scott Cain said: "Glasgow has quite extreme challenges. It has the lowest life expectancy of any city in the UK, for instance, and the hope is to make it more efficient and a better place to live."

In other words, with all our problems, if the world-wide concept of 'Smart Cities' can work here it can work anywhere.

Take roads, housing, education, public safety, healthcare, gas and electric, water, waste, traffic management, telecoms, and the sundry council and government services.

The basic idea is to get them all talking to one another, linking the data to a network command where it is monitored and analysed to make services more efficient.

Of course, it would be a start if councillors talked to the citizens, but we can't be too ambitious. As someone said, you can't manage what you can't measure, so expect thousands more cameras and sensors across the city.

We're already hearing of smart phone apps for the public to report potholes, fly-tipping, broken streetlamps and the like and log their GPS location.

Other apps show drivers the nearest available parking spots (and judging from City Parking's lack of profit for five straight years there must be plenty spaces available).

We can have the same for crime, weather, traffic – you name it, the list is endless.

If the TSB is smart, the City Chambers' current incumbents will be kept at arm's-length from any Smart City vision.

Their shameful waste of £100,000 in the botched Square revamp was merely the latest example of why they can't be trusted.

We had the George Square cafe fiasco under the previous Labour leader, Steven Purcell, who like current city council leader Gordon Matheson was also "listening to the people" when he scrapped the plans.

Nobody was listening last year amid the chaos over snubbed commissions to redevelop the Kelvin Hall and the Citizens Theatre.

With luck we'll get joined-up thinking when the Square is dug up to remove the red Tarmac in its makeover.

There's talk of laying power and internet cabling and creating future access.

They should also bury plans to expand our shopping experience by removing the Royal Concert Hall steps behind Donald Dewar's statue.

Now that would be smart.

:: IF you're going to fall ill, make sure you don't do it on a bank holiday.

People facing an emergency visit to a hospital in Britain on those days are 48% more likely to die.

The reason for the higher rates is that there are fewer doctors on duty.

X-ray departments and operating theatres are closed over weekends and holidays, which is more than 100 days a year.

We may live in a 24/7 world but we don't have enough qualified medical staff to provide a matching service.

Finance

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