Recently I was asked to give my thoughts on how to stop an infrastructure development. Other than feeling like a game keeper turned poacher. This got me thinking about the pre-application process. As a developer you can pay to get advice on how to apply for a development. But what about the dialogue for those opposing one?
Going further than this, there is a shifting of the sands. In recent years major projects have been questioned on their impact financially, costs to be passed on to the customer, or the disruption to communities. Given recent global movements with bridges being block in London and flying protests across the World – there is a different risk to tomorrow’s projects.
When conceiving and planning a development, how often does the project team consider the granular details and objectives of the community (social and environmental). What can a proposed development do to enable or restrict the community’s aspiration of access, ecological investment and climate resilience. Activists go forensic – protesting against a company that makes train signals deployed on a railroad to a coal mine being one example.
Thinking about stopping developments can be the key to unlocking the risks to building them in the first place. Traditional lines of engagement have eroded away. Activists can develop structured and complex campaigns opposing projects over a perceived small issue, adding cost and time delays. But can developers outthink an activist community? Can constructive engagement deliver better results and scan the horizon for potential risks before they emerge for the project and community alike?
Mirroring this shift, the World Economic Forum published its long-term risk outlook, a matrix that asks global experts their biggest worries in recent years. This year biodiversity loss ranks in the top four risks in terms of Likelihood and Impact to the World alongside extreme weather, humanmade environmental disasters and climate action failure.
This is especially interesting when you look at the longer-term picture. Back in 2007 ‘infrastructure breakdown’ was ranked 1st on the risk list however, has fallen out of contention on the list by the time we get to 2020. Pre-2013 energy price volatility, oil and gas prices dominated the list and now is absent.
NIMBYism is an overused term, emerging to describe opposition to large scale energy generation. But we are now seeing a bigger, more popularist movement awakening using ecological and climate impacts of development as rationale to block projects. Does this mean communities have become familiar with infrastructure or have their perspectives changed? Closer to home in recent weeks, HS2 has been criticised around the risks to ‘carbon-storing’ habitats and biodiversity by the Wildlife Trusts. Traditionally we have seen similar concerns handled through mitigation and net-biodiversity benefit. However, a new generation of conscious individuals are making front page news with stories about the loss of natural carbon sinks damaging biodiversity in ancient woodlands.
Project teams need to consider changing the narrative. This involves moving away from islands of stability and stock answers to get amongst local negative issues, appraise them and then build capacity within proposals to develop a sense of community ownership and adaption to pressure points. In this age of social media and Extinction Rebellion, campaign groups can mobilise national support in hours. It is critical that there is resilience within a project team to respond to queries and issues before they lead to delays and impact commercial viability.
Organisations need to get local and stay local. They need to understand concerns, mitigate risks and ensure local stakeholders are properly represented and have less reason to press the big red panic buttons of national campaigns and petitions to fulfil their community objectives alongside major projects.
“Having seen Samsung’s David Eun speak at Web Summit on the company’s vision that how what makes a house a home is “experiences”, it was interesting to see the unveiling of both Ballie (the rolling robot) and the Bot Chef. Ballie, a human-centric vision robot, will roll around your house responding to your every command and controlling different aspects of your smart home. For how long will we need hardware for this though? Won’t the smart home become omniscient, omnipresent, etc? Will this be the mini disc of smart home – exciting tech that was quickly made obsolete? Following a fifth straight quarter of revenue decline, the company enters 2020 optimistic about how 5G will positively impact the market for chips and handsets, but also leaning hard into smart home as a key part of the future of the company.”
Hoda Awadhas highlighted a potential tool that could help those with dyslexia:
“Lexilife – French company Lexilife unveiled Lexilight, a lamp that they claim is designed to make reading easier for those with dyslexia. The Lexilight uses both pulsed and modulated light, which is said to help eliminate the mirroring effect that a dyslexic person sees. Researchers have found that those with dyslexia have two dominant eyes, which simultaneously send two different pieces of information to the brain at the same time. The Lexilight eliminates this by allowing the brain to process information as if it came from one dominate eye and users are able to tweak the lamp to their preferred frequency. According to the British Dyslexia Association, around 10 per cent of the UK population are dyslexic.”
Smart mobility has been a key theme at the show, as highlighted by Madano’s Ben Gascoyne:
“There was no shortage of smart e-mobility exhibitors at CES2020 – even Sony found time to surprise attendees by announcing the ‘Vision S’ concept car that showcases their in-car entertainment, information and sensor tech.”
“As a passionate runner and cyclist, there was plenty to appreciate too. UK-based start-up Humanising Autonomy flew the flag with their excellent AI-led tools that enable autonomous vehicles to better identify, interact and protect cyclists and pedestrians, and Harman, a Samsung subsidiary with a strong interest in the automotive industry, unveiled an innovative 5G platform that uses mobile signals to warn vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians alike of each other’s presence.”
“As automakers integrate these tools into their next generation of vehicles, CES2020 hopefully shows we can look forward to safer shared roads and better public spaces.”
At an event full of gadgets and devices aimed to improve our lives, Senior Account Manager, Kelvin Morgan, has taken a different approach with his favourite takeaway (pardon the pun) from CES 2020:
“CES 2020 has come at an interesting point for the human race as well as technology. At a time when climate change is threatening our very existence, and political tensions are gripping the world, I find it hard to justify promoting a sliding toilet or a smart bin. For me brands like Impossible Foods are doing good by harnessing technology to address the problems we’re faced with head on.”
“Pork is the most consumed meat on the planet and it is great to see Impossible launch a plant-based substitute. There has been a huge rise in humans adopting a plant-based diet and the new alternatives developed with the use of science and technology may yet help us find a way to address the climate crisis now.”
Have you attended CES 2020? Let us know onTwitter what’s caught your eye. Please also follow us across social media to keep abreast of company updates and to hear the latest comments from our consultants on the topics that matter.
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