Five project stories you shouldn’t have missed in October
5G demand could put Copernicus project in jeopardy
Ministers and regulators from across the world are trying to agree on how best 5G airwaves could be used. While some frequencies have been made available for 5G networks, fear over demand has pushed to release a wider range of frequencies, in particular, higher frequency millimetre waves (mmWave).
The EU in particular is looking to free up these mmWave frequencies as part of a continent-wide rollout project to increase the adoption of 5G. However, this has been met with resistance from meteorologists, who say that those higher frequency airwaves are crucial for climate monitoring. In particular, it puts the EU-wide Copernicus programme at risk, according to the European Space Agency.
Copernicus is an ambitious project to deliver the most advanced ever satellite monitoring system to observe the state of the planet and its climate, such as tracking the make-up of gases within the atmosphere paint a detailed global picture of the rates of pollution and climate change. High frequency 5G networks are crucial to keeping the system running.
The debate has put both the 5G rollout and the climate monitoring project at risk. Ministers and industry leaders are now looking for a happy medium.
Teal pumpkin project brings allergy safety to trick or treating
For parents of children with severe allergies, Halloween is a serious cause of anxiety. This is especially true in the US, where trick or treating is an integral part of the season. With children taking sweets from numerous strangers, it’s extremely difficult to keep track of what they have.
In response, charity Food Allergy Research and Education created the Teal Pumpkin Project. The project aims to raise awareness of allergies to well-meaning households, and help parents with allergic children have a safer Halloween.
People are encouraged to put a painted teal pumpkin outside their house to indicate that they have non-food and allergen-free treats available. They are then encouraged to add their home on a map, to help parents map out a safe route for their children.
While this project started in the US and has grown steadily over six years, it is now so big that it has spread to the UK. The Teal Pumpkin Project website has resources to help people get started.
Dyson electric car project scrapped
Three years into Dyson’s ambitious electric car project, the company has pulled the plug. The problem was two-fold: a spiralling cost of build, and a lack of clear benefits – in the form of profits/saleability.
Dyson set aside more than £2bn into the project to develop an electric car and to improve electric battery technology, in 2016. A car was designed in the intervening years, but the project stumbled when it came to working out a way to make it commercially viable.
The company’s electric car facilities in the UK and Singapore are being shut down, and the 523 people working on the project are waiting to find out what it means for them – Dyson has said they’re trying to find new roles for them in other divisions. The remaining funds from the project will be redistributed.
The electric battery element of the project will continue.
UK’s largest zero waste supermarket ‘best ethical food project’
The Clean Kilo in Birmingham – the UK’s largest zero-waste supermarket– was awarded ‘Best Ethical Food Project’ in the Observer Food Monthly Awards in October. The supermarket was set up to be entirely plastic/packaging free – customers fill up their own containers or can buy re-usable containers in the shop.
It uses bulk dispensers, selling everything from store-cupboard stalwarts to frozen food to cleaning products. Not only are the products all sustainable, they’re also competitively priced, to make it accessible for all. It’s this factor in particular that helped the business achieve the award.
The Clean Kilo is opening a second location in Bourneville and is also offering consultancy services to other retailers.
Facebook cryptocurrency project fails to get the buy-in of serious stakeholders
Facebook has been trying to get its Libra cryptocurrency project off the ground for the past few months without much luck. The biggest hurdles have been fears around cryptocurrencies and its own tarnished reputation.
A report from the G7 has outlined nine major risks that Facebook must address if its project has any chance of being approved by regulators. Even then, it might not be approved. While the report doesn’t specifically mention Libra, it singles out ‘global stablecoins’, of which Libra is currently the biggest example.
Stablecoins are pegged to ‘real’ currencies such as the dollar or euro, to avoid the huge swings in value that other cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are vulnerable to. However, the G7 report says that they can threaten interest rates, risk financial instability if people lose confidence in the coin or over-dominate the market for cryptocurrencies.
Facebook is working with the regulators to try to get Libra off the ground, but it seems like it has a long way to go.
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