Friday June 13 2014
A few years ago I was in a 23rd-floor office when the fire alarm sounded. Luckily it was quickly revoked, but it added to my existing dislike of being in tall buildings. This novel Evacuator cable might add a teeny bit of reassurance for people like me – though I’m not sure if it would work on a sloping building like the Shard, which had to be evacuated last week after smoke sensors were triggered.
Government-backed Catapult centres are meant to help businesses bridge the gap between technology demonstrators and commercial products. It’s good to see that the Transport Systems Catapult’s ‘Imovation Centre’ is now up and running in Milton Keynes.
Lorna Sharpe, news and transport editor
“The slower you ride, the farther you get” runs an old Russian proverb, which probably makes much more sense in the world’s vastest country, with all its multiple time zones and incredible distances, than in compact ‘Little Britain’. Yet it looks like Network Rail has adopted this adage as its main logo. It’s easy to talk about improving “train reliability” from your comfy CEO’s offices. But try to do a daily commute to London, like my partner does. Cough up your two monthly salaries for an annual ticket, still having to sit on the floor in overcrowded stuffy carriages and be almost invariably late (and hence stressed). Then your perspective on ‘reliability’ is bound to alter. A small consolation: the trains are even worse in the South of France – see my After All column in the May 2014 issue of E&T and the corresponding blog post online. Happy reading on your unhappy journeys!
Vitali Vitaliev, features editor and columnist
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, if cyber-crime were a nation it would be ranked 27th in the world based on revenue alone. With 20-30 cyber-crime groups operating on a ‘nation-state’ level, meaning they work on an industrial scale, they can overcome almost every web defence they face, plus, extract between 15 and 20 per cent of the value created by the Internet.
Aasha Bodhani, assistant technology features editor
Various attempts have been made at quantifying the ‘cost’ of cyber-crime. The overall fiscal impact on targeted economies is the result of multiple attack vectors: hard cash stolen, intellectual property misappropriated, fraud, and Denial of Service impacts, along with other criteria; question is, should the big revenues generated by the cyber-security solutions industry, and the contribution they make to national economies, also be factored into assessments of this kind?
James Hayes, technology features editor
A virtual reality system that lets soldiers experience the full horror of the battlefield before they even finish their training; wonder what that will do for dropout rates? In all seriousness though, this could be a hugely useful tool to prepare not just soldiers, but also disaster relief and emergency workers, for the high trauma environments they will have to go into.
Edd Gent, online news reporter
A computer program claimed to be the first to pass the iconic Turing Test by convincing humans that they were talking to a 13-year-old boy has major implications for society, Professor Kevin Warwick has warned. Let’s not forget that Turing himself was the victim of social factors; we’re looking at what the climate in industry is like for gay engineers today and there’s still time to complete our LGBT survey online.
As Formula 1 teams come to terms with the latest round of rule changes on the technology they can use, engineers are being asked to come up with the next-generation of connectivity technologies for F1 racing in a new competition. Lewis Hamilton may be a driver and not an engineer, but it didn’t stop him commenting that “The challenges look fascinating”.