Sunday, October 13, 2013

Data Poverty

Friday, 4th September 2014: Well this will my last ride for a while. We are taking my daughter on the long trek north along with quite a few clothes, the odd book and her laptop, vital for educational needs as well as social contact.  It is amazing how we take such things for granted.  It wasn’t so long ago that we had to dial for an Internet connection. Nowadays lack of decent broadband is worse than lack od decent public transport.

What amazes me is that, despite living in the Internet age, we seem to be so amateur hour with what should be an important piece of infrastructure for the economic and social welfare of the UK.  Clearly some parts of Government get it. Getting a Tax disk is so much easier no it is on-line.  You no longer have to dig out the Insurance documents from their safe place, so safe you can’t quite remember where it is. No searching high and low for the MOT certificate. You just go on line, their system checks they are there and you pay and a few days later the Tax Disc is in the post.

The trouble is it is not so economic to connect up rural areas and so many places suffer from lack of a decent Broadband interconnection. So unsurprisingly such places then miss out. For instance one of the places I regularly cycle through – Reach Village, has a voluntary community group providing broadband service – RaSP.  Another village I cycle through – Prickwillow suffers from poor provision and has a Prickwillow Broadband Campaign.

So if you live in the sticks, maybe because of the inflated house prices in towns you get hit from all sides. Managing without a car is made more difficult because of the low levels of provision of public transport and what’s worse the places where you might want to go shopping (because you can’t Internet shop) charge you for entering their congested city centres.

It is not uncommon to hear terms like Energy Poverty and Fuel Poverty. Well the more the Internet embeds itself in our lives the more there will be Data Poverty. Some parts of the powers that be have recognised this but seem to be applying the same piecemeal “solutions” that we are seeing to many other issues. So rather than a more central approach we have the Government nudging the local councils (£530m in  Government Funding). Here in Cambridge we have Connecting Cambridgeshire. The talking has gone on for quite a long time, the goals seem mediocre:

Overall 98% of homes and businesses across the county can expect to have access to fibre-based broadband by the end of the contract. Our targets are for more than 90% of homes and businesses to be able to get broadband speeds of 24 Mbps and higher, with a minimum of 2 Mbps to very nearly 100% of premises.

To get an idea of the requirements HD TV streams can require 5Mbps or more 7Mbps. Here is a link to the Telegraph showing the requirements for the various TV/Movie Services – 3.2Mpbs – 15Mbps.

The trouble is you probably share that connection with others in your family. I do, when my son and daughter are both at home 80% of their TV/Film watching is via the Internet and they don’t watch the same things. What is worse you might also be sharing with 19 or even 49 other families depending upon your contention ratio. (This is one of the reasons you Broadband speed varies so much).

Which all makes me wonder just what is going on with Connecting Cambridge, fibre is capable of supporting faster data rates, so if 98% of homes will have access to fibre-based broadband why so slow? (Also it seems to be taking a long time to put into place. )

So the next time you cycle into the countryside, with its Electricity Pylons, Wind Farms and Solar Farms give a though to the Data Poor.

For my last ride before a lot of driving I went for my usual ride around Low Fen Drove Way, from Horningsea to Lode and then out along Lodes Way. Here are the picture taken on the way.

Although I tend to imagine all peas are grown for freezing and harvesting when green (vining peas) quite a few are harvested when dessicated.

A Field of Peas – dessicated and ready for the Combine along Hundred Acres Road

A Clump of weeds travelling along Burwell Lode

As I saw this go by I wondered whether it was a trick of the perspective, but looking at the pictures that is clearly an unusual aeroplane. I reckon it is a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.  They are flying from RAF Mildenhall apparently.

V-22 Osprey above the Fens, near Wicken

I guess given the props are so large they probably don’t spin very fast – which is why they are frozen on this picture. Mind you it might also be because the shutter speed was pretty fast – 0.00025s!

V-22 Osprey above the Fens, near Wicken

That looks like a water leak to me, near the Church on Lode. I don’t think it was this one – since it occurred in May and took 3 weeks to fix.

Water Leak?  Lode

It looks like the re-development of Broughton Hall is well underway.

Broughton Hall, Lode – roof repairs

This crossing was put in as part of the development of the Lodes Way cycle route and to ease the route for children from Lode going to school in Bottisham. Normally the lights change after about 10seconds. This is so much faster than the lights over near Quy church.

Lode Crossing Lights – responsive!

Next stop Scotland and time to stock up on Thistly Cross Cider.



  1. Ospreys

    That US Osprey apparently has a propellor speed of about 330rpm. Data and some fine photos here.

    Thanks to a tip-off from SBC I've now seen a real feathered Osprey fishing in Cambridgeshire, not very far from Wicken either. As the National Trust's wetland grow perhaps they'll be found within sight of the Lodes Way one day.


    1. As well as some much better pictures there were some useful tips on shutter speeds as well, although I think I would need to use the longer lens on my camera. I couldn't hold that steady for 1/30s