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MCR set for digital future (if it avoids the apocalypse)

It’s always pleasing to hear about local ideas that could revolutionise the way we interact, work, and play. As such today started off hitting all the right notes.
Summer is, alas, coming to an end, but that means there are some interesting developments on the digital frontier about to begin in and around Manchester. The most notable of which will be MediaCo Outdoor’s beta launch of its 20 touchscreens, with plans to install the world-leading tech-network unveiled back in May.
The interactive devices will put a world of free information at the fingertips of an estimated 2.3million pedestrians each week. The kit boasts Near Field Communication and facial recognition technology, in addition to RSS Feeds and weather widgets. Not that we really need to know what the next few months have in store for us rain-wise in the North West.
As yet it’s not that clear what we’ll be able to do with these installations in the long term; so far talk has been focused on providing interactive maps of the city centre for visitors, real time information on sporting events, advice on travel, and even details of celebrity appearances and other special occasions. However, there’s a huge amount of potential beyond this, not least in advertising, marketing, and PR- with the whole facial recognition thing surely taking Market Street one step closer to Minority Report.
Interesting times ahead then, the localised revelations don’t end there, either. Whilst on our usual trawl for news, stories, and ideas, we read this media release issued by Manchester City Council back in July, regarding the so-called Superconnected City project, which aims to achieve some big things, including putting free Wi-Fi in more than 130 public buildings, Metrolink trams and MetroShuttle busses. But, perhaps the most significant of all is the £3.65million voucher scheme that will be set up to fund the preliminary works needed to plug ultrafast broadband into an estimated 2,000 small and medium sized businesses. All of which is deliverable by 2015, apparently.
A rather rosy picture to say the least, unfortunately we then carried on searching, and stumbled across a very different vision of where we’re heading. Professor Kevin Anderson ranks amongst Britain’s leading climate change experts and is a scientist at the University of Manchester, he also told the Manchester Evening News that the city is facing an apocalyptic future, with a possible ten-degree rise in temperature leading to summer highs in excess of 40C and the eventual wholesale abandonment of all those gleaming glass buildings, meanwhile global food shortages will have us all fighting for every morsel. And that’s in the next 50 years, if we don’t do something about the traffic and air quality issues that currently blight the area. Talk about ruining the party.

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