I have been involved in leading several agile transformations at this stage in my career. In every case many of those around me held firm to a core belief that they had already been working in an agile way, and that the cultural transformation was for the others, not for them. In particular three groups of people stand out:
Engineers who believed that their involvement in SCRUM-like ceremonies for planning was evidence that they were working in an agile way.
Product owners or project managers, who also felt that planning on a regular cadence was the key facet of agility in the context of product delivery.
Senior managers who believed agile ways of working were for their teams, not for them, and continued to operate using deadlines and traditional milestones as their key tools for creating accountability.
Some time back I wrote about the digital contact tracing efforts being made by a variety of public and private institutions. The endeavour, fraught with privacy considerations, has yet to truly prove its potential – little evidence of the efficacy of the approach has been gathered. In an effort to change this, the UK government has recently attempted to release an update to their app, built upon the Apple/Google framework, in lockstep with a change in the nation’s COVID policy. The app would begin to gather and store geographic tracking data to enable authorities to better respond to outbreaks as citizens break free of a long lockdown to socialise in outdoor eateries and pubs. This move however has met resistance from both Apple and Google, who are thankfully taking users’ privacy very seriously.
As the public sector and the private sector collaborate to respond to the need for quick and reliable testing in the face of the Covid pandemic, it is interesting to see armies of young people, relatively invulnerable to the most severe effects of the virus, working in a coordinated and orderly fashion to provide the testing facilities that we depend upon in order to maintain some degree of normalcy in society.
The various scaled agile frameworks make use of some common building blocks which many practitioners will be familiar with. Stories are often the most familiar, as they are the raw material of the SCRUM and Kanban practices which have been applied at the team/squad level for many years, particularly in technical teams. However, in the process of scaling these practices a need for larger aggregations of work was needed, and in response to this need, emerged epics.
Contact tracing, the process by which health authorities can identify those at risk of infection by virtue of proximity to a known case of a virus, has long been a pillar of pandemic response. With radio-enabled mobile devices now globally ubiquitous, it comes as little surprise to see that they are playing a role in the evolution of contact tracing methods.
Contact tracing is only as effective as its scale. The ability to evaluate only small proportions of an at-risk population will ultimately undermine any contact tracing system, manual or digital. As early attempts to develop contact tracing apps launched around the globe, technical limitations, privacy concerns and poor assumptions about adoption rates undermined almost all efforts. Into this mess stepped Apple and Google, together responsible for the software, and to a lesser extent hardware, which power the majority of our mobile devices.
The next generation of mobile broadband data network is being discussed in almost every context you can imagine, from technology to healthcare to sociology to urbanism. 5G is coming. But what is it, what does it enable, and how is it relevant to the citizens of urban places? And therefore, what does it mean to those designing and moulding the cities in which we live?
5G will replace or augment your existing 4G connection, providing exponentially greater bandwidth alongside massively reduced latency – the time it takes for data to get from A to B.
5G operates across a broad range of frequency spectrums. Lower frequency ranges (below 6GHz) provide a more reliable signal but are limited in their bandwidth. These ranges are nearing saturation in many cases from overloading of existing 4G networks. 5G also leverages higher frequency spectrums, which provide massively increased data rates and much lower latency, but which are quite limited in their ability to penetrate buildings, and the coverage area for a single antenna is limited, thus necessitating much larger numbers of antennae to achieve uniform and reliable coverage.
This is just a drill. What is reassuring about the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that we humans have prior experience of pandemics. We, as a millenia old global society, have learned from the suffering of so many before us, and can reason about the course of this outbreak as it traces the scars of pandemics past. It is this knowledge which allows our scientists to confidently inform our responses to the challenge we presently face. Contagion factors, mortality rates, exponential curves – these are all intuitive factors in the relatively straightforward science of viral transmission.
Despite this prior experience, and despite an intuitive and relatively simple mathematical foundation for modelling the impact of a viral outbreak, society has struggled to respond in a coordinated, cohesive and intellectually sound manner. And as such the disease has killed thousands, spread globally at a rate which continues to grow exponentially, and has caused economic damage running to trillions of dollars.
In this paper Geoff Boeing examines ways in which the Smart Cities paradigm can leverage publicly sourced datasets to enhance traditional forms of urban form analysis and visualisation to further our understanding of urban morphology.
Copenhagen is developing a resilient neighbourhood in the north-eastern district of Østerbro. Climate resilience, particularly the challenges associated with heavy rainfall, is combined with a social objective to create valuable communal spaces which reinforce strong community.
The first adapted space in the area as part of this programme was Taasinge Plads, completed in 2014. It combines a multi-faceted rainwater management solution with a new piazza and elements of nature integrated with both the accessible space and the stormwater management ponds.
This quick sketch, from a spot on the junction between Bernstorffsgade and Vesterbrogade, features Axel Towers and the surrounding street scene. This is a busy intersection very close to Copenhagen’s main station and Tivoli, a popular tourist attraction.