Monthly Archives: November 2012

Censusless jam

A Norfolk traffic jam that at its peak, stretched over 10 miles during rush hour, prompted the local radio station and press to headline the queue over planned features on women bishops.  Teachers and pupils were late for lessons, emergency service vehicles were caught up and businesses claimed financial impacts.  The cause..?  A traffic census.

Norfolk Traffic Jam 21-11-2012

I was stuck in this jam as well – for a good 40 minutes.  At its height the traffic sensor data suggested an estimated hour plus delay.  So I had plenty of time to reflect upon the reasons behind the hold-up.

I fully understand the need for such censuses; origin and destination information is essential for councils to help plan travel and transport improvements – something of great benefit to us all.

So I got thinking… Are there alternatives to closing one carriageway of a major trunk road, during rush hour, in order to pull over a sample of commuters for questions such as:

–       Where have you come from?

–       Where are you heading?

–       How many passengers do you have?

–       How often to you make this journey?

And I think that there are…

1)   Many of us have technology in our cars that report congestion ahead.  Some satnavs use this live data to automatically reroute us.  Motorway displays use this information to warn us.  How does it work?  The vast majority of us now carry mobile phones.  These devices broadcast a unique IMIE number – the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity.  Mobile phone operators capture and map these broadcasts and this data can be purchased.  There are no data protection implications, as the purchaser cannot link the IMIE to an individual – Personal Information.

So, this answers the first two questions – where are you coming from and going to?

2)   Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is a familiar technology used across the road network to spot tax disc dodgers and enforce London congestion charges.

With your number plate linked to your address, councils can contact you to request that you respond to the questions that they need answers to – they might even offer a prize-draw to respondents to increase the poll?

3)   CCTV is the third tool in the armoury that might be the future of traffic census… This technology is advanced and affordable and can easily answer the question of how many people are transported on the typical car journey.

All of these technologies are mobile and can be used, without traffic disruption, over longer periods than a typical traffic census.

None of these technologies will impact upon traffic movement, nor run the risk of commuters avoiding census spots and thus the point of the survey, due to congestion.

Are run-flat tyres all that they’re cracked up to be..?

Okay.  So this post isn’t really relevant to the purpose of this blog-site.  However and tenuously methinks, it does relate to technology advances.  I recently purchased a BMW Mini Cooper Clubman – it’s main function to commute me to and from work commitments.  It is equipped with run-flat tyres.  These are commonly fitted to BMWs and all Minis.  Given that the former are very typically used by high mileage driving executives, I felt that I had to post.  Run-flats are touted as having the following benefits:

  • It is dangerous to stop on any road to change a tyre, especially on a motorway or at night.
  • There is no need to have to wait for a breakdown service to arrive.
  • Safety and security of the driver and passenger(s) is maintained.
  • Alloy wheels are difficult to detach from steel hubs.
  • On most cars the spare is under the contents of the boot, and uses boot space.
  • It can be tricky to line up the wheel bolt holes with the hub screw holes and match the thread.
  • The dirty punctured tyre needs to be removed and stored in the boot.
  • Another puncture before the punctured tyre is mended means one is stranded.

Yup.  These are all very good reasons.  However, first consider having no spare combined with the popular breakdown services not in the business of carrying replacements, the fact that these types of tyres cannot be roadside mended, plus the business hours of most garages and tyre fitters.  Then consider the fact that standard manufacturer guidelines recommend travelling on a ‘flat’ run-flat at between 30-50MPH for no more than 50 miles.  I don’t know about you, but most of my business miles are well over 50 miles from home and don’t necessarily fit in with typical business opening hours.  And if you’re driving habits aren’t comparable, what about those occasional long distance drives when on holiday, perhaps even abroad?  In situations like this when running on-flat, with your milage and maximum speed limited, you are immediately the victim of the tyre prices for the nearest available fitter – and that’s if there is one available!

In a relatively short spell of time experiencing these technologically advanced run-flat tyres I:

  • Have almost missed an early morning ferry back from Brittany, France.  There were no nearby garages supplying replacements open on route before 7am so I limped back to the ferry terminal on frequent inflation stops;
  • Was late for a work meeting as the AA don’t mend, or replace, tyres at the roadside – and I was 90 miles from home.  In fact, I had to argue my rescue on the basis that the car was never supplied with a spare, or puncture gunk.  Luckily, on this occasion, I was recovered within business hours and managed to get a replacement tyre – albeit at more than 25% over the average price!

Should you consider run-flat tyres?  If your journeys are very rarely more than to the local shops, or within a 25 mile radius of your home or trusted tyre fitter, then perhaps.  Otherwise, it’s a definite snub!



The importance of getting identity management correct!

Hitting the news today (Tuesday 6th November 2012) was a sobering article highlighting just how important it is to get identity management correct!

Over a three year period from March 2007, the Prudential UK managed to mix-up two of their customers’ pension accounts and pay substantial funds into the wrong account.  The mistake, which has cost Prudential £50,000 in fines, boiled down to the two customers having the same forename, surname and data of birth.

For the full story check out