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Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain | ©[theguardian.com]

Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain | Business | The Observer

The graph […] may resemble a mountain range, all plunging valleys and soaring peaks. In fact, it tells a remarkable story of social and economic change, a story that ends bleakly for millions of medium and low-paid Britons – one of relentless forces cutting deep into occupations that have traditionally made up our economic landscape, and driving ever lower the real wages of all but the most fortunate and best-paid of the country’s employees.

via Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain | Business | The Observer.

UK needs an ethics council and digital chief in every department – ©[theguardian.com]

UK needs an ethics council and digital chief in every department – tech experts | Technology | The Guardian

The UK government should establish an expert technology ethics body to help address complex challenges, including health monitoring, autonomous vehicles and legal disputes such as the right to be forgotten, an independent review has recommended.

The ethical body, which would be similar to those in medicine and academia, is just one of a slate of wide-ranging recommendations in the Making Digital Government Work for Everyone review published on Tuesday, which explores how technology and digital services could be better used to help citizens.

Commissioned by Labour and written by an independent panel of more than 20 advisers and volunteers, the review has been in progress since December 2013.

via UK needs an ethics council and digital chief in every department – tech experts | Technology | The Guardian.

This quote about Putin’s machismo from Angela Merkel is just devastating – ©[vox.com]

This quote about Putin's machismo from Angela Merkel is just devastating - Vox

The incident of Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and the dog is a famous one. It was 2007 and Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, was visiting Putin at his presidential residence in Sochi to discuss energy trade. Putin, surely aware of Merkel’s well-known fear of dogs, waited until the press gathered in the room, then called for his black Labrador to be sent in. The Russian president watched in unconcealed glee as the dog sniffed at Merkel, who sat frozen in fear.

Later, in discussing the incident with a group of reporters, Merkel attempted an explanation of Putin’s behavior. Her quote, reported in George Packer’s recent profile of Merkel in the New Yorker, is one of the most pithily succinct insights into Putin and the psychology of his 14-year reign that I have read:

I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man,” Merkel said. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.”

via This quote about Putin’s machismo from Angela Merkel is just devastating – Vox.

How five U.S. innovations helped improve schools in Finland even as American’s ignore the same reforms [impactlab.net]

Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and scholar, is one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and educational practices. He is the author of the best-selling “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”and a former director general of Finland’s Center for International Mobility and Cooperation. Sahlberg is now a visiting professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has written a number of important posts for this blog, including “What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools,” and “What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform.”

In this post Sahlberg writes about what constitutes real education innovation, a topic that was the subject of a recent eport by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, about which I wrote and questioned here. Sahlberg notes how U.S. innovation has helped many successful education systems around the world even as Americans ignore those very same reforms. This is important reading.

via How five U.S. innovations helped improve schools in Finland even as American’s ignore the same reforms | Impact Lab.

Germany generates 74% of power needs from renewable energy [impactlab.net]

Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continues, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday last Sunday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International.

In the first quarter of 2014, renewable energy sources met a record 27 percent of the country’s electricity demand, thanks to additional installations and favorable weather. “Renewable generators produced 40.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, up from 35.7 billion kilowatt-hours in the same period last year,” Bloomberg reported. Much of the country’s renewable energy growth has occurred in the past decade and, as a point of comparison, Germany’s 27 percent is double the approximately 13 percent of U.S. electricity supply powered by renewables as of November 2013.

via Germany generates 74% of power needs from renewable energy | Impact Lab.

How Helsinki Became the Most Successful Open-Data City in the World [theatlanticcities.com]

HELSINKI, Finland — If there’s something you’d like to know about Helsinki, someone in the city administration most likely has the answer. For more than a century, this city has funded its own statistics bureaus to keep data on the population, businesses, building permits, and most other things you can think of. Today, that information is stored and freely available on the internet by an appropriately named agency, City of Helsinki Urban Facts.

There’s a potential problem, though. Helsinki may be Finland’s capital and largest city, with 620,000 people. But it’s only one of more than a dozen municipalities in a metropolitan area of almost 1.5 million. So in terms of urban data, if you’re only looking at Helsinki, you’re missing out on more than half of the picture.

Helsinki and three of its neighboring cities are now banding together to solve that problem. Through an entity called Helsinki Region Infoshare, they are bringing together their data so that a fuller picture of the metro area can come into view.

That’s not all. At the same time these datasets are going regional, they’re also going “open.” Helsinki Region Infoshare publishes all of its data in formats that make it easy for software developers, researchers, journalists and others to analyze, combine or turn into web-based or mobile applications that citizens may find useful.

via How Helsinki Became the Most Successful Open-Data City in the World – Olli Sulopuisto – The Atlantic Cities.

I Know Where You Were Last Summer: London’s public bike data is telling everyone where you’ve been [vartree.blogspot.co.uk]

This article is about a publicly available dataset of bicycle journey data that contains enough information to track the movements of individual cyclists across London, for a six month period just over a year ago.

I’ll also explore how this dataset could be linked with other datasets to identify the actual people who made each of these journeys, and the privacy concerns this kind of linking raises.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is a publicly available Transport For London dataset that contains records of bike journeys for London’s bicycle hire scheme. What may surprise you is that this record includes unique customer identifiers, as well as the location and date/time for the start and end of each journey. The public dataset currently covers a period of six months between 2012 and 2013.

What are the consequences of this? It means that someone who has access to the data can extract and analyse the journeys made by individual cyclists within London during that time, and with a little effort, it’s possible to find the actual people who have made the journeys.

via The Variable Tree: I Know Where You Were Last Summer: London’s public bike data is telling everyone where you’ve been.

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