What's best for our country?

In the UK at the moment, there’s a big argument about whether we should be spending about £50 billion on a new high speed rail link called HS2. There’s a parade of businessmen who announce that it is essential, lots of people muttering about essential infrastructure all lined up against the thousands of people who will have to move, the environmentalists and people who simply don’t want to see even more of a small island carved up.

The benefits are often not very tangible, often references are made to the employment benefits which seems a little odd.  After all following  that logic you could invest in a series of statues, or a copy of stonehenge for every town in the land – all would bring the employment benefits.  The one main benefit I have heard cited is that it would take twenty minutes off a train journey from Birmingham to London which does sound very fast.  But do we live in such a fast paced world that 20 minutes is that essential, I frequently spend that queued up in roadworks outside the Train station car park.

The reality is that any environmental benefits portrayed by this scheme are also dubious.  After all the carbon cost of building the link initially is going to be so huge that the benefits would have to be huge to justify them.  But they are simply not, it’s about time not about taking traffic off the roads, it’s unlikely there would be much of reduction.

The real answer has got be to be teleworking, invest all that money in a seriously fast fiber network across the land instead. Don’t let people rush around the country having twenty minute meetings with each other, do it all in teleconferences.   Fire up their laptops, pcs and tablets and have that meeting online – nobody has to leave their house and the meeting will be just as productive.

IN fact we could make it global, stop investing in more and more airports, and environmentally damaging air travel and let people do business online. There’s no technical reason why meetings can’t happen over video conferencing merely using our own equipment – no one needs expensive video suites any more – a tablet, a pc or laptop will do fine.  Certainly there are often some issues with locations but those can be circumvented too –

This video is called how to get a fake IP address. It demonstrates that you can make security changes and bypass the various blocks and filters online relatively easily when required. It’s simple stuff and certainly very easy to set up. Imagine the costs involved both financially and environmentally in bringing just a handful of people from across Europe into a short meeting in London. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t happen, and the meeting can be just as effective perhaps even more so as jet lag and tiredness become less of a factor. A business man living in Spain can have several European meetings in a day and then still watch Eastenders in the evening using his laptop whilst relaxing by a pool in Marbella ! Here’s a link if you need help with that scenario – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytJHSDsicog!!