smart cities

Major cities around the world are aiming to reinvent themselves as smart cities. Smart cities integrate new technology that has already been successful for individual households into largescale cities. The modern household has an abundance of people and appliances connected through the internet. The tech-world refers to this phenomenon as the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart cities will take advantage of new technology to become the utopias of sci-fi. On a laundry list of issues to tackle, homelessness stands as one of the most imposing. While some cities concede that the leap forward will not solve homelessness, they are optimistic about broaching benefits for the homeless.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is looking to join other European Union cities in offering on-line diaries.  These semi-private journals will allow the homeless to account for their location and day-to-day activities. Most importantly, they will keep track of crucial information, like medical records, potentially saving lives in critical situations. This addresses a symptom of modern life that has only gotten worse over time. Authorities treat individuals without documentation as though they never existed, and therefore, these individuals cannot benefit fully from the modern information age.

People often take being in the system for granted. Medical records, employment history and interpersonal connections are integral pieces of information to share in modern life. The homeless in smart cities will no longer be invisible people.

Birmingham, England

Many different charity organizations address specific issues out of the multitude of problems that the smart cities face. A divide and conquer strategy is necessary but it benefits from a coordinated approach across groups. Change into Action, a partnership of the Birmingham City Council, the Mayor of the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority, unites all of the major charity organizations in Birmingham together.

 Fortunately, citizens now have an easy way to select exactly how charities will use their money to help the homeless in smart cities. This donation strategy targets two key psychological barriers for the average benefactor. The first is that people are overwhelmed when they face a multitude of problems they would like to try to remedy. People are more likely to donate now that they can specifically send £2 for a hot meal to someone in need. The second barrier that is broken is the identifiable victim effect. While potential donors may not know exactly who their money is going to, they are able to conceptualize the individual that will receive their help and are more likely to donate.

Jhansi, India

Energy-efficient housing is another technological advancement that smart cities are integrating into their new smart infrastructure. Wealthy people have been able to experience the monetary benefits of energy-efficient housing for some time now, as they can afford modern homes. Modern, energy-efficient homes use less energy and therefore cost less to live in. Jhansi, India has stated in its smart city initiative report that it aims to provide energy-efficient affordable housing for about 7,000 households. The homeless in smart cities will have the opportunity to afford to pay their utility bills and keep a roof over their heads. 

A variety of cities within different countries are all benefitting from embedding smart technology into their framework. The Chief Information Officer of Adelaide, South Australia Peter Auhl, said that the smart city planning phase is the most critical for success and that cities should purchase technology with a direct goal in mind. Saving the homeless from the neglect they experience is a goal that smart cities can achieve.

– Nicholas Pihralla
Photo: Pixabay

Glastonbury Live Album
The Glastonbury Festival has been held in Pilton, England every summer since 1970. This year’s festival is exceptionally special as the first-ever Glastonbury live album will be released on July 11.

NME, the British music and entertainment publication reports that all proceeds from the Glastonbury live album, Stand As One, will go toward Oxfam International’s Refugee Crisis Appeal initiative.

Oxfam International is an alliance made up of 18 organizations that began its mission in 1995. According to their website, Oxfam “works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.”

Oxfam works globally to fix a number of issues like inequality, fair distribution of natural resources, women’s rights and the growth of sustainable food in developing countries.

The Refugee Crisis Appeal is an emergency campaign to raise money for countries that are overwhelmed by refugees, such as Jordan, Syria, Italy and Greece.

The Oxfam website states that they have already provided 45,000 people with water on the border of Syria and Jordan by constructing a water tank, served 100,000 meals on the Greek island Lesbos and given legal counsel to many refugees in Italy.

Oxfam decided to dedicate the album to the late Jo Cox, a member of Parliament and Labor Party politician. Cox spent 10 years working at Oxfam and was a longtime advocate for refugees across the globe.

“Given Jo’s tireless work to help refugees both at Oxfam and beyond it felt appropriate to dedicate the album to her,” Oxfam’s Chief Executive Mark Goldring said in a press release.

Goldring stated later in the interview that Glastonbury’s live album will be, “bringing the weight of the music world in support of people in desperate need.”

Thousands of people will crowd 900 acres of farmland to see artist like Coldplay, Muse, Sigur Ros, Chvrches, The 1975 and Wolf Alice.

There will be incredible music, beautiful art displays and fields filled with passionate fans, but this year refugees will be represented on one of the largest stages in the world.

Liam Travers

Photo: Radio X

Social Supermarket Buys Out Hunger in Cornwall

England is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but it faces a major food crisis. Last year, close to 100,000 children went hungry. In London alone, 80,000 people earn less than the cost of living. They can’t afford daily, nutritious meals.

In recent years, England has been turning toward a new kind of store to fight hunger and poverty. Social supermarkets, “shop[s] selling discounted food to people on a low income,” have been multiplying since 2013.

Cornwall is the latest area to welcome the new market. Hunger in Cornwall is a serious matter. The Food Bank hands out 9,000 meals every month to poor families.

Charlotte Danks, 20, used her entrepreneurial skills to open a social supermarket in the town of Newquay. Bargain Brand Food Outlet receives its stock from supermarkets who discard the products because of manufacturing flaws, package damage and expired sell-by dates. Many items sell for 25 pence, or 39 cents in U.S. currency.

“If I come in here and buy a loaf for 20 pence, I’ve got money for gas,” Richard Benson, a regular social supermarket customer, told The Guardian.

Social supermarkets do more than save people money; they save food. According to the European Commission, the UK is responsible for the majority of food waste in the European Union—89 million tons per year.

Restocking products keeps them out of landfills and saves supermarkets from paying landfill tax. In turn, tax avoidance encourages markets to donate to their social counterparts.

Because the supplies come from larger stores and franchises, the stock varies from day to day. Some days, chocolate products outweigh meat and vegetables. Everything is first come first serve. Most stores require a card membership to prevent anyone but the needy from taking advantage of the low prices.

The emergence of social supermarkets opens several more job opportunities, lessening the number of struggling households. Danks plans to open two more stores in the next six months in the hope of eradicating poverty and hunger in Cornwall.

“I hope I can bring this to other struggling communities,” Danks told The Telegraph.

England isn’t alone in its efforts to resolve the food crisis through food redistribution. France, which already boasts 800 social supermarkets, unanimously banned stores from disposing of food earlier this May. Instead, stores are required to donate edible food to charities.

If the spread of social supermarkets and food waste elimination continue, hunger in Cornwall, England, Europe and the world could be bought out for good.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Coin Mill, Collins Dictionary, Food and Cornwall, Independent, London Food Bank, Telegraph, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2
Photo: Pixabay

This past week, the recent migration crisis—which has currently been sweeping across Europe and other developed nations in the world—came to a head in the small port of Calais, France. Located in the west of the country, Calais strategically connects France to the United Kingdom via the Channel tunnel and port, and has in recent years become an increasingly popular spot for migrants to try and smuggle themselves into Britain.

In recent weeks, the number of migrants inhabiting the area of Calais has dramatically increased in number, as 3,000 new migrants escaping from conflict-ridden areas in Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan set up camp near the port. According to British authorities, this situation has caused chaos and fear among British truck drivers, who are often forced to transport migrants illegally with them in their vehicles as they make their way back into Britain. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulauge Association, which represents over 83,000 truck haulers in Britain, has stated that “[British] drivers are fearful [but]… can’t do anything about it when they’ve got 10 to 20 [usually armed] people trying to get on board.”

The chaotic situation in Calais, brought about by migrants jumping in the back of trucks, was further exacerbated this past week following a Eurotunnel labor strike which took place on Tuesday. Angered at discovering that 400 employees were going to be cut from the Eurotunnel company, strikers shut down the port and threw burning tires onto the tracks, effectively blocking both the tunnel and port.

The striker’s actions last week led to hours of stand-still traffic in Calais, as truck drivers and ordinary passengers waited desperately in order to be able to cross back into Britain. Drivers also described the effect of the labor strike as scary and intimidating, with many refusing to open their windows or doors during hours of sitting in motionless traffic for fear that migrants would climb in.

This situation has in turn created frustrations on both sides of the Channel, as British and French authorities struggle with how to deal with the strike and its effect on cross-country migrant smuggling. Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, has argued that “Calais has been taken hostage by the decisions of the British government,” blaming the British for the strike and for refusing to absorb more migrants into the country.

Richard Burnett has similarly blamed the French by arguing that the French authorities in Calais have failed to directly tackle the issue. British authorities have also complained that the chaotic situation in Calais has cost the United Kingdom millions in trade revenue, with the Fresh Produce Consortium estimating that at least 10 million pounds worth of fresh fruit and vegetables have been thrown away in the past year as a result of delays brought about by migrant truck-jumping in Calais.

At the moment, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Holland say that they are working closely together in order to resolve the labor dispute, with Cameron tweeting on Friday, “I’ve called on @fhollande on Calais & the need to stop the illegal blockade & maintain port security.”

Calls to expand the nearby port at Dunkirk, 45 miles from Calais, have also been considered in an attempt to deescalate the situation, while British Home Secretary Theresa May and French Minister of Interior Bernard Cazenueve have also agreed to increase funding in order to improve the security situation in and around Calais.

Ana Powell

Sources: The Guardian, New York Times
Photo: Flickr