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24th – 28th November 2014

Monday was mainly spent preparing for a meeting of the Resource Efficiency Steering Group and working through forward budgets as well as clearing my inbox as best as possible.

After a day off Tuesday I travelled down to London on Wednesday to be a judge for our IC Tomorrow Connected Cities competition. Here a range of city-based challenges were put up with a large business partner prepared to host the innovative idea to test it. Pitching for the contract to develop the idea were five lots of three small digital companies. The challenges ranged from enabling the trading of energy in communities to helping people live independent lives. Some very interesting ideas were put forward but I was again reminded how complex many city problems are and how they are often beyond the scope of individual businesses. Collaboration is key and good projects need the involvement of those with a hand in wanting the change as well as those who pay for it (not always the same). For example with one on energy trading – without a community that want to do this, testing any ideas is difficult and how you will make money from it unclear.

After the event, I heading north with my fellow judge James Taplin to be in Glasgow for the first of our Solving Urban Challenges with Data competition workshops the next day. The workshop was expertly organised by our KTN team led by Jenni McDonnell and superbly facilitated by 100%Open who started with a stark example of how we can have hidden connections in any room of people. We were arranged by birth date in a big circle and found 4 pairs of the ~50 people there had the same birthday. This counterintuitive result is known as the birthday paradox and once you play the game with greater than 70 people the chance of a pairing is >99.9%!

The workshop was designed to help potential applicants understand the call, what data publically funded data was available and broker initial connections. Outputs from all workshops will be collated here: (or follow the hashtag: urbandata) and places on future sessions are still available. My main observation was that throughout the workshop we kept hearing how little cities know about their resources: talent, infrastructure, heat, Nature, communities, etc.

Back home on Friday I spent the day on phone calls and admin – more financials!

Stat of the week:  Zipcar members save around £300 per month compared to owning a car (from the report for Government published this week on the sharing economy: )

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 65 kg CO2

Mike Pitts