Monday, December 21, 2009

Personal Energy Meter

Simon Hay has proposed "A Global Personal Energy Meter" at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. The idea is that your mobile phone would track where you are and what you are doing, calculating how much energy you are using, so you can make decisions to use less (perhaps receiving some incentives to do so). This appears to be a logical extension of the tracking devices which the Cambridge Computer Lab has been experimenting with for decades (I wore one of the devices when I visited Andy Hopper in Cambridge in 1996).

As well as the formal paper there is a sixteen slide show.This is an idea worth exploring. There are obvious problems with privacy, as there were with the previous computer labs tracking devices. However, as anyone who has read the draft energy audit standards knows, the state of the art in energy measurement for carbon auditing is not very advanced. Therefore the information needed from a personal tracking device need not be very precise. Also gaps in measurements can be tolerated far more than with a security tracking badge.
Abstract. Every day each of us consumes a significant amount of energy,
both directly through transportation, heating and use of appliances,
and indirectly from our needs for the production of food, manufacture
of goods and provision of services. I envisage a personal energy meter
which can record and apportion an individual’s energy usage in order
to provide baseline information and incentives for reducing the environmental
impact of our lives. Contextual information will be crucial for
apportioning the use and energy costs of shared resources. In order to
obtain this it will be necessary to develop low cost, low infrastructure
location systems that can be deployed on a truly global scale. ...

From: A Global Personal Energy Meter, Simon Hay, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, 2009.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Cambridge Phenomenon

In looking for material on e-learning at Cambridge, I stumbled across a reference to something I wrote in 1996 about "The Cambridge Phenomenon" (Segal, Quince and Partners, 1985). This was a study of why high technology start-up companies had been so successful around Cambridge University (UK). In 1996 I visited Cambridge University and discussed start ups with Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer. He mentioned the report, which I found in the ANU Library, wrote a summary of and then used in a presentation to the ACS: "Canberra: Cambridge or Thebes?". Because the original report was not available online, Ross Anderson and others at Cambridge University had referecned this summary. But what I have now noticed is that the talk itself was reverenced in "A pilot study on the emergence of university-level innovation policy in the UK" by Finbarr Livesey, Eoin O’Sullivan, Jonathan Hughes, Rob Valli and Tim Minshall (Working Paper 2008/1, Centre for Economics and Policy, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, March 2008).

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cambridge University Online Courses

After suggesting to my colleagues at the Australian National University School of Computer Science (SoCS) we use an e-Oxbridge educational model, I thought I should check to see how Oxford andr Cambridge apply e-learning. A quick web search found the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education, which offers online courses specialising in adult and non-traditional learners. The Institute clims: "unparalleled level of online support and direction from experienced and enthusiastic tutors", whichfits with the Oxbridge model of education. However, these are short general interest and proessional devlopment courses, not full degree programs.

An example is "The global climate challenge: policy technology and the future" (COV007), an 11 week course costing £165.00 and offering 10 credits at level 4 of the Framework for higher education qualifications. The award requires participation in online discussions, a Personal Statement of Learning (e-Portfolio) and assignments. Six such courses would be required for an undergraduate "Certificate of Continuing Education" (Postgraduate courses are at FHEQ Level 7).

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