Smart Commerce

During our recent trip around  France we encountered many villages that were, how can we say this, perhaps retreating is the best word. Basically they were less and less people living there and the ones that were are finding their way into the third age of life and beyond.

One of the downsides is the closure of shops and the retreat of commerce from bricks and mortars to machines and vans.

Many villages had the baquette machine as in the picture. Now this is fine and very modern but expensive to install and maintain. We met many ladies like the one in the picture. They are long long term residents of the villages and remember it lively and full of activity. Theywould be happy and proud to take in the bread and sell it on to their neighbours.

With the minimum of technology the neighbours could order the bread and these neighbours could take it in and give it out again. No machines, a chance for a chat, to see if a neighbour is well, a small, small effort at community. If they were away or not able to do it then it could easily pass to another in the community for a few days or weeks.

We can do better than automating bread sales and installing a machine, surely. Business is not all about machines.  A small bit of communcation and an elderly, responsible and talented person has a new purpose, a business has a new outlet and a community has a chance to talk to each other.  The business has no worries about maintenance, insurance, quality, health issues from rodent attack, etc etc etc.

The customers are better served and are able to get to know they can get what they want locally.

This applies to so many things, local post, medicine drop offs, fresh produce. A little bit of #smartrural would go a long way. A little bit of technology and  connectivity. It takes a bit of passion.



The scenario is:
I see a sitting room belonging to an old lady, lets call her Josie, a mother and a grandmother. The room is in a house in a vilage, something like we all know, in the country, population about 1000. Her husband has passed away and her family are working and living elsewhere. One of here daughters is called Mary. The front room where she spends most of her life has the usual, TV, photos, sofa, seat, table, lamps etc. It has been teched up and hooked to the smart rural platform.

She is a bit lonely but proud and independant. Quite well travelled, fond of giving advice.

So my dream is Josie walks into the room and says “Mary, are you there”. The technology picks this up and calls Mary.( Who hopefully is able to answer.)

Now based on the new stuff coming ( and already here) Mary can imemdiately appear in the room, she might be standing, sitting etc etc. The people in the digital media world will be able to put a full size Mary anywhere into the room based on previous data collections. The smart rural platform will have enabled to room with tiny devices: speakers, cameras, projectors, microphones, etc etc.
Josie can put on a set of reading glasses ( again techie enabled on the smart rural platform) and show Mary something she bought and Mary can see it. You could go further and Josie and Mary could each put on a glove and if Josie touches it Mary can feel the touch.
That’s one scenario.

Another scenario is that if Josie has other kids/grandkids they could come along virtually and sit with her to watch say a soap every night or some nights per week. They could chat about the programme as it happens and basically create a “live” companionship.

It will never of course be the same as an actual visit but with the techie that is already here and if 5 g does what it says then we can do this in the next couple of years.

I read about creating empathic robots to sit and talk to people. I read that most of the new houses and apartments that need to be built between now and 2050 will be in cities and will be only for 1 or 2 people. I read that lonliness in the middle of huge cities is growing and indeed leading to some less than optimal human health side effects.

We can do better. #smartrural

Rural Tourism #smartrural

When travelling through Spain and France lately many beautiful sites had cafes with outdoor terraces. Really pretty and cool in the heat. However nearly all had signs saying there was no service on the terrace. So many many visitors went in , bought what they wished and took it to the terrace to eat.

The owners could not manage the staffing of the terraces as they had no idea when people might arrive, how many might arrive. They really wanted to give a better experience to their guests and also would like to give some work to someone.

So when #smartrural is up and running it should be possible to give some advance warning or at least use some algorithms to try to assist owners when demand might rise.

A combination of weather forecasts, historical information on visitor numbers, nearby events, special promotions in local attractions,  opening hours, traffic movements out of cities, should all provide information to give service providers advace warning that would enable them to adjust staffing levels, food purchases etc etc.

This information is all there, it just needs to be brought together and used. There is little doubt that if it was working then the experience of customers would be better and this might make them return more frequently. #smart rural


One project from Smart Rural security

This one is from the security part of smart rural. As you may know there was a tradition of not even locking doors in the country but sadly that has been changed as more and more older people are violently robbed. As they are alone and burglars regularily think they have cash as opposed to having money in bank then there are a number of issues to be solved.

The traditional way to prevent burglaries is by doors, gates, locks, dogs, neighbourhood watch, security and police patrols, So can we do some of this using smart stuff?
This project would install a number of sensors in a geographic area. In Ireland there are 4 types or roads, Motorways and national routes for town to town stuff. Then there are R roads for linking villages- say smaller villages to each other and to larger towns. Then there are L Roads for local access. For example the road to individual farms from main or R type roads. These are usually not heavily trafficed and often have some spectacular potholes! The sensors in this case would be only on L roads. They should be OK on these roads as they really are only used for local access and for say local deliveries. So the roads can be open during the day but have restricted access during the night, or whenever the locals decided. Of course the use of the tech would allow for phones, tags, or sensors to give automatic access for cars, tractors etc to be able to access when they were pre registered or entering the area on invitation. Anything accessing could be tracked too for retrospective review if something awry occurs.
We envision maybe a pop up bollard as it is less intrusive and requires minimum electiricy and maintenance. These are now common place.
I imagine the location of them would be like the outer layer of a spiders web. But the outer ring would be community driven in terms of location. There would be other projects then to increase security in increasingly close layers as you get to the centre of the web and to the most vulnerable people.
A side effect of these bollards is that they could be used to create cycle ways to be used by visitors and with some imagination neighbouring communities could create a route from say the end of town and city bike lanes out to the country and back. This of course then adds to the attraction of the rural community and step by step it may develop commercial halt stops as have developed along greenways.

There is an app in Chile that can send alerts to you based on geographic incidents . For example if I was on this app and a house in my vicinity was robbed, then I would get an alert. If however a house 20 KM away was robbed it would mark it as a robbery on a map I can see, but not send me a specific alert. A bit like the spider web , increasing levels of protection centered on the vulnerable spot.
This idea uses all existing technology, bollards, tags, communications to create an outer security zone and also to possibly create something in the income side for the community. It does however need a platform for the bollards to talk to a central hub regarding access approval and timing of rising and falling.

Smart cities

So these are getting huge investments all over the world. Mainly to help manage the gridlock, pollution and services to the citizens. All seem to assume that the cities will continue to grow. It is coting a fortune to make the cities smart. Surely if we made the countryside smart then people could live there and work there. Is the future of work city based? #smartrural