Thanks to its world-class science base the UK is very good at developing ideas. But we still don’t invest enough public money into developing early stage technologies, says Dr Kieron Flanagan. Does the UK have a future in manufacturing? Does the North West or the Greater Manchester city region have a future in manufacturing for that matter? These were the questions debated at a panel discussion I took part […]
Beyond sandbags – how to defend your house from flooding
For much of the 20th century, faith has rested in bigger and better defences to hold back floodwaters. But repeated flooding has shown that large defences cannot, and should not, be the sole focus. The first, and for most people the only, tools in the box to protect homes have been the thousands of sandbags […]
What should responsible innovation look like in our society?
The emerging concept of responsible innovation is already taking hold in science policy and governance, writes Jonny Hankins. He argues for a multi-faced approach that emphasises reflexivity, involves public engagement from the outset and brings on board social scientists. The phrase ‘responsible innovation’ is cropping-up ever more frequently in policy documents in the UK, Europe […]
Unsustainable practices: Why electric cars are a failure of ambition
A focus on ‘techno-fix’ solutions to climate change like electric cars simply perpetuate current unsustainable practices and represent a failure of ambition, argue Nicola Spurling and Dan Welch. In January David Cameron announced that his cabinet might trade in their limousines for electric cars. It was the latest in a stream of initiatives to promote the […]
Are trust issues driving fear of mass surveillance in Europe?
David Barnard-Wills argues that EU citizens don’t necessarily want to trade their privacy for security – and that policymakers should take their views seriously in determining surveillance practices. Fuelled in part by Edward Snowden’s release of documents revealing NSA and GCHQ surveillance practices, recent months have seen much media coverage of surveillance and European citizens […]
Care.data project tarnished by liberties and assumptions
The potential for Care.data to improve the health of the nation is hard to argue with, writes Jonathan Hammond. But he argues that a lack of patient control, security concerns and a lamentable communications strategy have tarnished the laudable aims of the whole scheme. Let’s start with some facts about Care.data. It is a programme […]
Reality check-up: Care.data is good for our health
Amid the furore over the delayed Care.data scheme, the reality is that the storage of pseudoanonymised patient data is already common practice, writes Dr David Springate. He argues that a national primary care database will bring big benefits – and says the risk of individuals’ data being de-anonymised by big pharma companies or criminals is remote. […]
Don’t let early warnings on innovation arrive too late
A new approach to seeking out and responding positively to early warnings on technological innovations is needed, argues Hilary Sutcliffe, who warns we need to welcome them and be prepared to act if necessary. A must read for anyone involved in innovation is the latest volume of the European Environment Agency’s ‘Late Lessons from Early Warnings […]
Pickles-Paterson floods spat highlights true top-down nature of UK policymaking
A top-down centralised decision-making process and government functions working in silos are not new features of UK politics, writes Dr Daniel Fitzpatrick. But as communities across the UK experience misery due to flooding, it seems these deeply entrenched pathologies of policymaking are increasingly out of step with the ‘wicked’ issues that society is facing. The […]
Skip diving or food waste: which is the bigger crime?
In the coming months, three men will face trial for vagrancy for taking discarded food from a skip. Dr Andy Balmer argues that the actual crime is systemic waste throughout the food production and consumption chain. The practice of ‘skipping’ or ‘skip diving’ features intermittently in the news. Often an intrepid reporter dons his or […]