The New Mobility Bridge

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    About the Bridge:
  • Welcome message
  • Summary
  • Personal Responsibility
  • What is "New Mobility"?
  • An Electronic Environment?
  • How it works
  • Earlier examples

  • A 6000 km. zero-CO2 conference: How to . . .


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  • In democratic countries knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.
    - A. de Tocqueville, 1835

    What is it?

    The New Mobility Agenda is based on some strongly shared ideas about society and technology, and confidence in the ability of those who care about these things to make use of our available tools to "get together" to refine and advance their ideas and in the process move them toward implementation. And given that those who share these interests are not found in a single place -- to the contrary as it happens they are widely spread out over the surface of these sweltering planet -- a major key for turning ideas into palpable realities is our ability to communicate with each other. For these we need a bridge, or bridges of some sort to help us span these otherwise debilitating differences.

    What we call the New Mobility Bridge is thus an ever-evolving, state-of-the-art, multi-level, low cost IP communications toolset developed over the last decade and deployed in our work with an expanding group of international partners and technologies in various configurations in specific projects aimed at advancing the sustainability agenda. But hey! it's already the 21st century, so it's no big deal. Let's keep on with this.

    Why bother? Lots of reasons. Extend your outreach. Save time. Save money. Save the environment. Spend more time with your family. Become a better communicator. And work better. (That's all.)

    Want to get started now? You can start to use these features immediately by clicking the Click to communicate menu to your left, which explains the workings of each of the IP tools that we use in support of this international collaborative and group work. But for more on our thinking behind all this, we invite you to read on here.

  • Click here for a short personal welcome message demo-ing video links.

    The New Mobility Bridge: Efficient. Powerful. Cheap. Sustainable.

    The key to progress in the struggle to sustainability resides in our ability to share our information and combine forces to build knowledge and consensus, both globally and locally. The inputs needed to accomplish this challenging transition are not going to come from a single place. A world wide outreach is needed. And to accomplish this we have to make good use of all the assets we have in hand. Which brings us smack to the issue of effective networking using available communications technologies.

    Here we are half way through the first decade of this brave new century, and in our up-hill struggle for sustainability and social justice wouldn't it be rather dull of us if we did not take full advantage of the tools that are available to advance our agenda?

    In the "old days" - which incidentally are still the mental images that prevail in most of our minds even now in 2006 - "combining" was done via personal physical contact and at times conferences, the mails, journal articles, and all that gradually supplemented in due course by with telephone, fax, email, and of late various flavors of the internet. But life moves on, new technologies and methods appear, and if we are confronted with an important but ever so difficult task as we are in our efforts to try to construct more sustainable and just societies, then we had best be prepared to learn to use every available tool and trick. And this is what "The Bridge" is all about.

    Note: Good idea to check out the respective background sections on Skype/Sightspeed here before using the first time.

    While the broad goal of all of cooperative public interest programs under The Commons lies our shared commitment to sustainable development and social justice, we have long believed that in the pluralistic, often democratic and certainly hugely disparate world in which we live, the path to these noble, to these crucial goals lies in good part through our ability to harness available technology to these ends. And not least, among these the "Information and Communications Technologies" (ICT) which constitute the major building blocks of an Information Society.

    What sets the various programs of The Commons a bit apart from the rest is first that they have from the outset been built on the principal of world wide networking, program co-definition and sharing of information and resources through the best available (you might also read that cheap or free) technologies. And second, that we believe that the path to sustainability depends on our ability to get together fashion and execute near term solutions measured in months or at most in a few years). Indeed one of the beauties of small near-term successes via new tools and approaches is that we can thereby gain experience and credibility to tackle larger and more difficult challenges.

    Personal Responsibility -- and Sustainable Lives

    There is a true and quite disturbing anomaly which troubles, or at least should trouble, those of us who are dong our best to contribute to a more sustainable world -- and this has to do with our own personal profiles in terms of resource utilization and pollution generation through our daily life choices.

    Quite a challenge in the 21st century when technology, our habits and for some of us sheer abundance-- the many agreeable 'acquis' of the rich and profligate North of our time -- invariably have us, more or less on auto-pilot, opting for daily life choices, small and large, inconsequential and egregious, which together add up to a pretty unsustainable life. Even for those who say we deeply concerned about the issues of sustainable development for the planet as a whole. But that whole includes each of us, one by one -- and no less important many of the "us's" working on these issues are people with potential high pubic exposure. Thus our examples should count double.

    So if I for one decide I need to travel from Paris to Sydney for my work to advance the sustainability agenda in concrete ways -- if I use the Climate Care CO2 calculator I can see without a shadow of a doubt that in the process I, through my personal actions, will cause to spew out some five tons of CO2. Hmm. How many time a year can I permit myself to do that? Is there a more efficient way to get the job done? Or at least if I do make the trip, how can I make sure that I am responsible in my choice? I better do a lot and work hard and smart while I am there or the planet will be the loser. (If you go to the Personal Responsibility section here, you will see a selection of the growing collection of web-based devices that permit us to get a better grip on our choices. And perhaps with this knowledge, we may modify our choices. Some of us? At least perhaps some of our choices? In any event the sheer knowledge of what we are doing should be a step in the right direction.)

    In much this same spirit we often run into problems of interpretation when we talk to people about "New Mobility" -- not least because it is often assumed, and in particular by our hardcore environmentalist friends, that any use of the word "mobility" necessarily implies more physical movement, and all the resource, environmental and other downsides that go with its abusive practices. But to us this expression New Mobility encompasses a much broader range of access options, including the innovative use of technology (and better spatial planning as well of course) so that we can actually have ways of reducing the resources and environmental take of "getting there" by relying on other softer, and often better, means. Which is what The Bridge is in fact all about.

    Sustainable Development, New Mobility and The Bridge

    Sustainable development and social justice: the phrase has a noble ring and is quite fashionable at the moment, with different groups and interests using it in different ways for different reasons. More and more international events, conferences, seminars, workshops and the like are being organized around these critically important themes for our embattled world. However in almost all cases - and quite ironically given that it is after all 2006 and Moore's Law has yet to be repealed - organized with a decidedly backward technology approach that is serving to hold them back in terms of their international reach and actual impact when it comes to implementing specific remedial programs and projects.

    Of course, technology is not going to solve all our problems and dilemmas of sustainable development, but at The Commons we are firm believers that "technology is part of the solution". Indeed one thing that we have learned over the last decade of discouragingly slow 'progress' (backtracking in most cases, really) in these matters from a global perspective, is that none of us are going to get very far with the challenges if we do not learn to make creative use of the full range of tools that are at our disposal. Which brings us right up in front of information and communications technologies, an area where there is a huge amount going on and where the tools available to support the international sustainability movement are advancing with great strides - what we have for the last decade called our The New Mobility Bridge.

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    What is an Electronic/Environment?

    The idea in brief is to design and bring into play an integrated set of low cost, widely available, state of the art electronic communications tools to support and extend the reach of international events such as conferences, workshops or other gatherings in which people traditionally have come together physically in a given place for a few days or so, in order to exchange ideas and information on some specific target topic (and then run back home).

    An e/e is a carefully orchestrated, parallel virtual "communications/support envelope" that extends over a considerably longer designated period than the physical meeting, during which time the basic concepts and issues central to the event in question are introduced well in advance, shared with a wide international audience, explained and queried in an active collegial manner, relationships are established, ideas are built, and concrete follow-up can already be in place before the day that the doors open at the physical meeting..

    The success of any given e/e project depends on three things: (a) assiduous planning with the event organizers, (b) the selection and preparation of the various technology components and their deployment (with qualified and experienced project partners), and (c) meticulous management attention to the full range and levels of detail over the project life.

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    Meeting Support

    A typical Bridge support project starts up several months before the physical meeting, and continues for a similar period afterwards in order to ensure the full capture of feedback, views and suggestions for future events. (Ideally in a world in which continuity is a virtue only rarely achieved, the day the e/e itself closes down will be the day that the next program or event in the cycle is ready to start)

    The IP toolset varies from project to project, but the main components currently available include:

    1. Aggressive international multi-level outreach program aimed at bringing in hundreds, even thousands of international groups, experts and concerned citizens from all over the world, allowing them both to follow and also to participate actively in the event.

    2. Interactive web sites, with supporting events and discussions both in meeting run-up, during the main event, and in the planned aftermath. (In all cases these days the event organizer usually has already made plans for their main website. These need to be discussed and possibly adjusted to ensure a smooth meshing.)

    3. Meeting registration area, libraries of materials, billing tools, confirmations, etc.

    4. A series of discussions, "pre-conferences" and brainstorming sessions, including discussions of working papers and submittals of the various speakers and presenters - so that the day when people arrive at the physical event they are off to a running start (instead of the totally dead start that is the norm, sadly.)

    5. Virtual discussion rooms and poster sessions in parallel with physical meetings during the conference to permit multiple access.

    6. IP videoconferencing configurations (multiple): One option to be taken very seriously is that of creating an always on line IP videoconferencing facility that anyone in the world with a broadband connection and hundred dollar pro web cam will be able to join - together with a whole slate of events and programs that will use this technology.

    7. Live and on demand webcasting: A 100% virtualization (Webcast) of the conference as it takes place. This approach makes the conference available to anyone in the world while it is taking place and then can be maintained on line for the full period of the e/e (Another considerable advantage is that this approach, when kept on line, enables conference access to those who may wish either to review the events later and from afar. Likewise, if the discussion areas are maintained, this permits the conference to be extended in time and space -- and eventually in terms of its impacts and effectiveness - as opposed to the usual firm closure once the delegates have left the conference hall on the last day.)

    In summary, here are some of the specific things that an e/e tries to enable which otherwise are not going to happen in your meeting:

    • Extend the "reach" of the physical meeting by a factor of ten, one hundred or more, by using a nested set of low costs e-communications devices to bring in more people and to extend the time horizon of the activity.

    • Provide an interactive set of tools which are made available and managed in such a way so that when those invited actually arrive at the meeting place, they are already well advanced in the process not only of reading and understanding the usual presentations, but also in the dialogues that usually take place only in the physical meeting. (We think of this as the "running start".)

    • The Bridge likewise provides a means for extending the meeting once the planes and trains carry back the attendees to their homes - thereby getting rid of the usual discontinuities that result and which inevitably work to "bury" the meeting and consecrate it to the past

    Project budget depends on the details of the toolset and the length of time over which the support program is operated.

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