Monthly Archives: December 2019

SMART CITY WATCH: IT’S ONLY A GAME

SMART CITY WATCH

The ‘Smart City’ prophets love games and play and promote them hard because what you need to understand is that the ‘Smart City’ is a whole lot of fun. Harmless fun entirely for your benefit. It brings jobs, growth and innovation to make you wealthy and delivers entertainment, play and games to keep you happy.

Here in Bristol we have a publicly funded organisation dedicated to promoting what a load of harmless fun a ‘Smart City’ is – the Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed. “It’s a world of amazingness and wonder. If Willy Wonka existed, he’d be jealous of it :)” Kieron Kirkland, their former Magician-in-residence uncritically assures us. Magically unaware that the manufacturing of confectionary doesn’t conjure huge amounts of behavioural data for tech firms to appropriate and monetise.

The Pervasive Media Studio’s big idea is the ‘Playable City’. “There were a lot of older people,” these ageists tell us, “who were totally terrified at the notion of a smart city and how cold and alienating it was. So we decided to reappropriate smart cities’ technology for play.”

pokemon

 But who’s playing what game and what is really being reappropriated in a ‘Smart/Playable City’? Are “older people” right to be alienated? On the face of it, Pervasive Media, once you get past its creepy name, is pretty harmless. ‘Playable City’ is little more than an annual international conference and accompanying prize for daft ideas such as creating smart phone enabled talking street furniture or randomly triggering projections of animals at unsuspecting pedestrians at night.

So far, so much municipally imposed fun courtesy of hipsters. However, the corporate Godfather of the outdoor digital play market, Pokémon GO, is taking digital play somewhere else entirely. Initially this ‘augmented reality mobile game’ involved finding and capturing, on your phone, virtual cartoon characters in your neighbourhood. Then Pokémon GO struck deals with the likes of McDonalds, Starbucks and other corporates who handed over hard cash in exchange for the behavioural and location data held by Pokémon GO.

These transactions transformed Pokémon GO. A cheap, harmless hour in the park with the kids hunting virtual characters became the completely different game of nudging you through the door of a corporate outlet to spend money.

Pokémon GO is a step forward in the use of your behavioural data by tech firms. They’re moving beyond storing and analysing data to predict your behaviour (say through promoting certain ads on the internet at you) to trying to directly manage and control your behaviour through your digital device. Behavioural control and management is the new frontier for big data firms in the ‘Smart City’ test bed and play and games are among the tools in their box.

When you pick up your phone to play, regardless of how old you are, be sure to know what game you’re playing.

OFFICIAL: “WE’RE INCOMPETENT” ADMIT SENIOR COUNCIL BOSSES

contract

The enthusiasm with which our serially useless senior council bosses are suddenly embracing advertising their INCOMPETENCE is a new and novel innovation for our Counts Louse’s Third Floor DEPARTMENT OF DUNCES.

Their public confessional follows a report from Green Councillor and Audit Committee vice chair Clive “Shakin'” Stevens into how former chief exec Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski walked away from Bristol in 2017 after just SIX MONTHS’ OF INDIFFERENT WORK with £98k in her pocket. Shaky, was given access to carefully selected top secret documents by dodgy council bosses and has devised a personal “MOST LIKELY SCENARIO” regarding the payout.

Shaky claims it was all down to SERIAL INCOMPETENCE and council bosses are queuing up to cheerfully admit it. Not least because their only other option would be to admit to UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY. What Shaky alleges transpired is that Big Wedge’s colleague and associate, Jackie “You’re Fired!” McGeachie – the former Tesco exec turned jobbing senior local authority HR interim – “ACCIDENTALLY” sent the wrong Chief Exec contract to lawyers in 2017, which allegedly entitled Big Wedge to a big wedge and, er, nobody noticed it was the wrong contract until it was too late.

However, Shaky’s “most likely scenario”, which we’re invited to believe over “the conspiracy theories”, raises as many questions as it answers. For instance, if the payment to Klonowski was an error, WHY AREN’T WE ASKING FOR IT BACK? And what type of contract was sent by Big Wedge’s personally appointed HR boss that allows someone to resign and scarper with immediate effect but contractually obliges the employer to fork out six months’ pay in lieu of notice? AN UNPRECEDENTED ARRANGEMENT Shaky fails to explain.

Of course, this mysterious ‘top secret ROGUE CONTRACT remains safely locked away from the public, despite, by Shaky’s definition, being an out-of-date generic document and not personal information relating to a named individual. Shaky also says he discovered evidence of “GROSS OBFUSCATION” or “A COVER-UP” from bosses over the payment. Only to meekly announce “they should be ashamed”. But why isn’t Shaky recommending IMMEDIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION against them? Why would anyone want bent and dishonest bosses to remain in post running our council?

Is it because these bosses might start revealing what really happened and who authorised paying Klonowski £98k of hush money that we weren’t obliged to pay?

KING PRAWN RISING

king-prawn

UKS Group are at it again. The company built a block of flats in Bishopsworth in 2017 – Litfield Court – that was LARGER than they had planning permission for (see  ‘PLANNNING NEWS’, BRISTOLIAN 36), pissing off many locals in the process. After the REFUSAL of a retrospective planning application by the council, the company finally got permission for the enlarged block on appeal.

Now one of UKS’s directors Sam Litt, is trying to REPEAT THE TRICK at 32 – 38 St John’s Lane, Bedminster, where a blatant OVERDEVELOPMENT of ugly housing has sprung up with a glaring problem. Some of the properties are listed on the planning application as 3-BEDROOM, with a much smaller floor space than actually constructed. In reality they are 4-BEDROOM PROPERTIES.

Now Mr Litt, to overcome this little problem, is applying to the city council’s planning department for a ‘variation of conditions’ to make “MINOR AMENDMENTS” to his original planning application. And the planning officer dealing with this? Step forward our dear old friend ANGELO “KING PRAWN” CALABRESE, who had to be hastily shifted out of Avonmouth after a series of UNLAWFUL officer-delegated planning decisions favourable to the Port of Bristol Company and various corporate waste firms came to light.

Has King Prawn learned any lessons? Or is he overseeing dodgy planning decisions in South Bristol instead?

SOUTH BRISTOL: “YOU CAN’T HAVE GREEN SPACE”

broadbury
Plans at Broadbury Road

The Reverend Rees’s deranged efforts to build his way out of his carefully branded “HOUSING CRISIS” is hitting south Bristol and its open spaces very hard. Following last month’s unveiling of the Reverend’s IKEA/BOKLOKS housing solution, giving his loopey evangelical mate Jez “I’m no housing expert” Sweetland free rein to build 200 IKEA chipboard homes for the DESPERATE and the VULNERABLE on the narrow verge of a trunk road in Hengrove, comes news of another attempt to grab open space in south Bristol.

Filwood residents expressed their displeasure at Rees’s madcap “CHIPBOARD AND PRAYER” plans for the Airport Road at a cabinet meeting last month and community GROUP KNOWLE WEST FUTURE asked that the council, at least, reduce the number of homes planned for the small and narrow tree-filled site to 100. The group said, “A possible 400 people emanating from this site would be a significant addition to that area and if that is to happen other parts of community retail and infrastructure need to be improved.”

Meanwhile, less than a mile away at Broadbury Road in the heart of Knowle West, Curo Housing Association have unveiled plans for 47 homes on a small piece of COUNCIL-OWNED OPEN SPACE WITH A PLAYGROUND behind Broad Plain House. And the community are not impressed that their wildlife and rights of way are to be traded away by the council for concrete, traffic and overshadowing by large buildings.

Residents have also pointed out that the site is part of GARDEN CITY PLANNING PRINCIPLES and that the area was built to have green spaces. However, principles, planning or otherwise, are in short supply at Rees’s DUMBED DOWN FREE MARKET COUNCIL or at even dumber Curo. Instead Curo Communications Manager Valentina Warren gives the game away by gormlessly explaining the complex planning vision underpinning the Reverend’s “housing crisis”. “You can’t build new homes and have green space at the same time,” she’s announced.

So that’s south Bristol’s NEW ENVIRONMENTAL AND PLANNING STRATEGY sorted by Rees and his ragbag of religious looney mates, voluntary sector morons and second rate Counts Louse planning officials, then:

“No green space for you – losers.”