Author Archives: mervynkohler

The Energy Revolution

The smart meter roll-out has been bumpy, and bedevilled by technical issues around its communications systems. To date, about 6m have been installed towards the goal of achieving 50m+ installations by 2020, and the Government remains adamant that that date is not negotiable.

We are de-commissioning old coal-fired and nuclear-fuelled generating plants, and replacing some of that capacity with enormous wind farms. Solar power is becoming more commonplace (nearly 1m householders now have a solar panel on their roof), and we are experimenting with tidal power and other technologies. But all our existing cables and wires are in the wrong place to transmit this electricity to our homes. Continue reading

Welcome to the (digitally) active citizen

In 1991, Estonia enthusiastically embraced its freedom and independence from the Soviet Union, but its economy was in a parlous situation. It faced overwhelming bills just to sustain its basic public services. A leading light in its Government, who went on to serve for ten years from 2006 as President Toomas Ilves, was an autodidact computer programmer, and forcefully advocated that those public services would only be sustainable if the country embraced the digital economy. So it came to pass that everyone had to sharpen up their skills, and get used to paying their taxes, updating their health records, registering their right to citizen benefits, voting, and even applying for a bus pass online. No exceptions. Continue reading

Culture and Wellbeing

In February, the British Museum hosted an Age Friendly Museums Network event.   An astonishing 250 people showed up! The Network was launched four years ago, but it really has grown and blossomed. The basic idea is to reach out to older people’s organisations, either to take objects out to show them, or to lay on something special in the museum. Some older people may remember with little affection their last visit to a museum five or six decades ago, and won’t understand how much this milieu has changed. But others have jumped at this chance to get some V.I.P. treatment.

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Tackling excess winter deaths and fuel poverty

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This time last year, the Excess Winter Deaths statistics showed an enormous jump to over 40,000 for the previous winter.    This year, the number returned to its trend line, at 24,300 (including 20,800 amongst the over 65s) in England and Wales during the winter of 2015/16.   But if this lower figure is ‘normal’, it is still a disgraceful situation. Continue reading