My presentation at forumoxford – Apps for smart cities

If you have an interesting idea for an app for Smart cities, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com for the Apps for smart cities event Amsterdam – 28 to 30 march

Apps for smart cities event


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am happy to announce the Apps for Smart Cities event to be held in Amsterdam in 2012 (end of march). Here is some background how this idea came out and I would welcome your comments/speaking proposals etc. Please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

Background:

A couple of weeks ago, I gave the keynote at PICNIC in Amsterdam where I spoke on the topic of ‘What makes a city smart’. My view was, the closer a city behaves to the Internet, the ‘smarter’ it is. While this definition sounds very generic, it is relevant because the Internet is a platform and is thus an enabler of innovation. This innovation is created by the people.  So, in discussion with Appsterdam, we proposed the idea of ‘Apps for Smart cities’ – an event about grassroots innovation for Smart cities. Today, apps are a core component of the Mobile and also the Web ecosystem.  So, most people are familiar with apps – either as developers or as users. When we extend the idea to ‘apps for smart cities’, we get the concept of apps which incorporate both hardware and software.

So, what does a Smart City look like?

I am also on the advisory board of the World Smart Capital   program , which is modelled on the lines of the World design capital. The world smart capital has produced a Smart cities manifesto at PICNIC.

They define a Smart city as:

A city can be defined as smart when investments in human and social capital and traditional (ex transport) and modern(ex ICT) communications infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life with a wise management of natural resources through participatory governance

 

This is a very comprehensive definition. It is beyond the traditional – IT led – emphasis on  sensors and embedded systems.

 

The concept of smart city seems to rotate around six areas:

- Smart mobility

-   Smart economy

-   Smart environment

-   Smart living

-   Smart people

-   Smart governance

 

Obviously, mobility plays an important role especially with mobile phones today which incorporate multiple sensors.  Finally smart cities lead to a change of participatory governance style and emphasis on new challenges like Privacy and Security for citizens.

 

So, the Apps for smart cities event will focus on creating apps for the above including hardware and software and also mobile devices.

Already, we have some interesting supporters like Pachube and we are pleased to have them aboard. We are also speaking through appsterdam with various other organizations as well. So, watch this space  :)

There is a deeper philosophy behind this:

-          The value of open hardware is in the empowerment of communities  which Chris Anderson has famously termed the next Industrial Revolution or ‘the long tail of things’.

-          The tools of factory production, from electronics assembly to 3-D printing, are now available to individuals, in batches as small as a single unit and “Hardware is becoming much more like software,” as MIT professor Eric von Hippel puts it.

-          As Chris Anderson says: We’ve seen this picture before: It’s what happens just before monolithic industries fragment in the face of countless small entrants, from the music industry to newspapers. Lower the barriers to entry and the crowd pours in. and Thus the new industrial organizational model. It’s built around small pieces, loosely joined. Companies are small, virtual, and informal.

These are the ideas we want to explore in the Apps for Smart Cities event.

We welcome your comments. Contact me on ajit.jaokar at futurtext.com. We are looking for speakers/ sponsors and ideas.

So, what are the toolkits on my radar? (Please free to suggest more)

Apart from arduino ofcourse + Cisco, IBM, Vodafone , here are some more ideas on my radar:


BUG
 http://www.buglabs.net/

is a modular, open source system for building devices. a US based open source hardware company, quite famous , recently it unveils a plan to corporate with Ford    

Funnel  http://gainer.cc/

Funnel is a toolkit to sketch your idea physically, and consists of software libraries and hardware. By using Funnel, the user can handle sensors and/or actuators with various programming languages such as ActionScript 3, Processing, and Ruby. In addition, the user can set filters to input or outputs ports: range division, filtering (e.g. LPF, HPF), scaling and oscillators. It is actually a  redesigned arduino platform

Gainer  http://gainer.cc/

Gainer is an environment for user interfaces and media installations. By using the Gainer environment, the user can handle sensors and/or actuators with a PC on various programming environments such as Flash, Max/MSP, Processing and so on.

Make controller   http://www.makingthings.com/resources/downloads/

The Make Controller 2.0 & Interface Board Kit includes the Make Controller Version 2.0 and the new Interface Board that makes adding sensors and motors easier than ever! Also available with the Application Board. The Make Controller is built around the AT91SAM7X256, and adds the essential components (like the crystal, voltage regulator, filter capacitors, etc.) required to run it, while bringing almost all the processor’s signal lines out to standard 0.1″ spaced sockets.

Wiring   http://wiring.org.co/

Wiring is an open source programming environment and electronics i/o board for exploring the electronic arts, tangible media, teaching and learning computer programming and prototyping with electronics. It illustrates the concept of programming with electronics and the physical realm of hardware control which are necessary to explore physical interaction design and tangible

Sun SPOTs   https://spots-hardware.dev.java.net/

Project Sun SPOT was created to encourage the development of new applications and devices. It is designed from the ground up to allow programmers who never before worked with embedded devices to think beyond the keyboard, mouse and screen and write programs that interact with each other, the environment and their users in completely new ways. A Java programmer can use standard Java development tools such as NetBeans to write code.

Pinguino    http://pinguino.cc/

Pinguino is an Arduino-like prototyping platform based on 8-bit or powerful 32-bit ©Microchip PIC Microcontrollers with built-in USB module (no FTDI chip).

Smart cities manifesto and what makes a city smart

 

 

At  PICNIC  in Amsterdam was a great event and I spoke on the topic of ‘What makes a city smart’. This was my first talk at PICNIC and it’s an exciting event which brings together smart people across disciplines to create new conversations and ideas.

I am also on the advisory board of the World Smart Capital   program , which is modelled on the lines of the World design capital.

The world smart capital has produced a Smart cities manifesto at PICNIC.  I do not have a link for the Smart cities manifesto but I summarise it from the print copy and then include some notes which I took from the various Smart cities presentations here in Amsterdam and I include my presentation below as well

To summarise the Smart cities manifesto:

-          In the last 50 years, urban populations have grown exponentially. This trends will continue and is expected to lead to an increase in problems we encounter in most large cities today

-          So, to overcome these problems, infrastructure should be enhanced by digital technologies

-          Over a decade long study, the intelligent community forum has found that intelligent communities engage in intensive collaboration between organizations, government and citizens to create change

-          Intelligent cities involve three dimensions:  Human, Collective and artificial intelligence

-          The human element relates to the intelligence, inventiveness and creativity of the individuals who live and work in the city. Richard Florida describes the creative class in his 2002 book The Rise of the creative class

-          The idea of collective intelligence is based on social factors that enable people to work together including the tendency to collaborate, compete, integrate and differentiate

-          The third factor is the artificial intelligence embedded into the physical dimension of the city

-           A city can be defined as smart when investments in human and social capital and traditional (ex transport) and modern(ex ICT) communications infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life with a wise management of natural resources through participatory governance

-          This is a very comprehensive definition. It is beyond the traditional – IT led – emphasis on  sensors and embedded systems.

-          The concept of smart city seems to rotate around six areas: Smart mobility smart economy smart environment smart living smart people smart governance

-          Obviously, mobility plays an important role especially with mobile phones today which incorporate multiple sensors.

-         Finally smart cities lead to a change of participatory governance style and emphasis on new challenges like Privacy and Security for citizens.

From the sessions I attended, here are my notes. You can see full bios of speakers at the PICNIC agenda

 

Many of these stories support the wider definition of Smart cities as above which incorporates:

a)  Investments in human and social capital

b) Investments in traditional (ex transport) and modern(ex ICT) communications infrastructure

c) Sustainable economic development

d) Higher quality of life with a wise management of natural resources 

e) Participatory governance

So, here are some of the key points and i will add more later as well.

Lorenzo de Rita – Architects build only 10 perc, we build the rest.

Kunlé Adeyemi echoed the same ideas when he said that even cities like Makoko   in Nigeria, which are built on water, follow a pattern of growth driven by people’s needs (ex the need for less direct sunshine) ie they are not built randomly
Matthias Hollwich: The dignity of aging needs to be reinstated and we cannot do that by chasing eternal youth. New Aging explores a new way for society to deal with aging. Old people cannot be ‘stored away’ from society.

Ben Hammersley  looked at how cultures and society change, how technology can outpace good manners, and how designers and makers can change the world.

He said:.

-          We have been talking of smart cities as if they are an option

-          If you can think of a technology – it is inevitable. Moores law says it will happen

-          Technology embodies our values and changes our values

-          And apparently, Thomas Edison chased film industry out of NY to protect his cameras and so the industry went as far away as it could (to LA)

Jorge Camil Starr: Five billion people in the world today have no access to the Internet. A large part of these citizens live in developing countries and marginalized communities. Jorge Camil Starr discussed the model he has built in Mexico which has benefitted more than 150,000 people in less than 2 years.

-          30 perc of creative workforce take 50 perc of wages

-          Urban poverty harder than rural poverty

-          e-learning is more than just giving away computers

-          It does not work if it does not have a humen process behind it

Here is a link to their work I found RIA – OECD – pdf

Art to the People!: Ricardo Celaya talked about the power of art as a communication tool, an instrument to integrate cities and a vehicle for change. Art promotes social inclusiveness by displaying local heroes (instead of pictures of politicians) . Huge libraries and buildings even in deprieved areas are aspirational.

Games in Informal Settlements: Emer Beamer talked about how can a mobile game contribute to improving life in informal settlements around the world? This was based around Mtaani, a game based on the complexity of life including dealing with the scarcity of water, with crime and the escalation of conflict as well as community development. Co-designed with young people from Nairobi, it is spreading across Kenya and Uganda through mobile game websites, Nokia’s Ovi Store and special youth gatherings.

The Emergence of Brand Philanthropy: You can see Coca Coal as an ambassador for world peace!

Bill Mc Donough: A regulation is a signal of design failure. By the way, this talk received the longest applause! Bill Mc Donough’s book is Cradle to Cradle – which I ordered as I was listening to his talk!

In my two presentations, I propose that:

a)      A city is Smart if it follows the ethos of the Internet i.e. becomes a platform or an enabler which unleashes the creativity of it’s people  and

b)      The perfect storm i.e. a combination of various factors which could produce a positive effect is based on two ideas: apps are the glue for convergence across platforms and people are at the centre of the ‘Storm’

Finally, when Tamara Bok interviewed me at PICNIC and asked me about what is ‘smart’ in a ‘smart city’, my response was: A more disruptive question in the future is: ‘What is a City’?’ i.e. this is a moving goalpost and we may find that many of our current definitions of ‘city’ may themselves evolve.

What makes a city smart – Ajit Jaokar PICNIC Amsterdam presentation – Smart cities

the perfect storm – Ajit Jaokar PICNIC Amsterdam presentation

 

 

 

How would the Internet of things look like if it were driven by NFC (vs RFID)

As NFC catches momentum in Europe and North America, I have been thinking of yet another gedankenexperiment :

How the industry would shape up if the Internet of things were driven by NFC?

To understand this, we have to break down the concepts.

Internet of things

Firstly, Internet of things is a concept driven largely by academia so far.

There are several partially overlapping definitions: (source Wikipedia)

Casagras:[5]: “A global network infrastructure, linking physical and virtual objects through the exploitation of data capture and communication capabilities. This infrastructure includes existing and evolving Internet and network developments. It will offer specific object-identification, sensor and connection capability as the basis for the development of independent cooperative services and applications. These will be characterised by a high degree of autonomous data capture, event transfer, network connectivity and interoperability

SAP:[6]: “A world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes. Services are available to interact with these ‘smart objects’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

ETP EPOSS:[7]:”The network formed by things/objects having identities, virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate with the users, social and environmental contexts

CERP-IoT: [8]:”Internet of Things (IoT) is an integrated part of Future Internet and could be defined as a dynamic global network infrastructure with self configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual ‘things’ have identities, physical attributes, and virtual personalities and use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network. In the IoT, ‘things’ are expected to become active participants in business, information and social processes where they are enabled to interact and communicate among themselves and with the environment by exchanging data and information ‘sensed’ about the environment, while reacting autonomously to the ‘real/physical world’ events and influencing it by running processes that trigger actions and create services with or without direct human intervention. Interfaces in the form of services facilitate interactions with these ‘smart things’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

Other:[9]:”The future Internet of Things links uniquely identifiable things to their virtual representations in the Internet containing or linking to additional information on their identity, status, location or any other business, social or privately relevant information at a financial or non-financial pay-off that exceeds the efforts of information provisioning and offers information access to non-predefined participants. The provided accurate and appropriate information may be accessed in the right quantity and condition, at the right time and place at the right price. The Internet of Things is not synonymous with ubiquitous / pervasive computing, the Internet Protocol (IP), communication technology, embedded devices, its applications, the Internet of People or the Intranet / Extranet of Things, yet it combines aspects and technologies of all of these approaches.

If we identify the common elements for IOT then:

1)      Objects should be uniquely identified

2)      They should be network enabled and hence objects can be queried and activated remotely

3)      Services enabled through such ‘smart objects’ will be co-operative

In addition, some other notes for IOT

1)     The original idea of the Auto-ID Center is based RFID-tags and unique identification through the Electronic Product Code. So, IOT is tied to the idea of RFID/Barcodes

2)     IOT is different from ambient intelligence / pervasive computing / ubiquitous computing which are ideas designed  such that machines modify their behaviour to fit into the environment instead of humans forcing humans to change their behaviour.

3)     There is an alternate view of IOT which is fulfilled by making objects web addressable and that means the object has an agent in the cloud and objects can communicate in the cloud without directly communicating with each other. Ipv6 has a role to play in this space ie if objects become internet addressable

4)     IOT systems will be event driven, complex (ie not deterministic)

5)     But the most important consideration for IOT is the scale: IOT aims for trillions of objects which will lead to billions of parallel and simultaneous interactions requiring massively parallel systems

The uptake of NFC

The original concept for IOT came from the RFID ecosystem. NFC could be seen to be a subset of IOT. NFC is compatible with RFID and the main difference is the range. Also, RFID started with supply chain, asset tracking etc and NFC with transportation. So far, RFID has not become ubiquitous as a technology. But NFC is on the verge of a major uptake in Europe and North America. NFC has applications in access control, access control, consumer electronics, healthcare, information exchange, coupons, payments and transportation.  Thus at an application level, NFC and RFID are comparable.

The uptake of NFC in EU and North America is driven by various factors:

a)     Three different constituencies are driving NFC  - credit cards(visa), telecoms(SIM), Web(Google wallet, paypal)

b)    NFC will show an initial uptake through interactions(informational type requests) and a portion of these could be transactions

Analysis for IOT

As we have seen before, the various definitions of IOT have some common elements. But let us imagine what IOT would look like if NFC were the driving technology

The key requirement to fullfill the true potential of IOT is the scale. Now, if NFC takes off then most of the requirements for IOT could be fulfilled except the scale of interactions. This means, the more emergent/ complex services for IOT may not emerge (at least initially) with NFC but still NFC will be useful.

In addition:

a)     If mobile devices will take up NFC, then we are likely to see more A2P (application to person – ex payment) rather than person to person services. This is good because it provides an initial use case and then as more devices and objects become NFC enabled, more complex use cases will emerge leading to network effects

b)    Hence, the larger scale vision of IOT will not be realised unless you achieve  large scale standardization and interoperability. In the West, I do not see governments attempting this level of standardization. Which makes NFC very significant because much of the promise of IOT will be achieved through NFC but without the scale

c)     Japan, South Korea,Singapore and ofcourse China could achieve standardization in their respective countries. That could achieve scale / IOT vision within their local geographies

d)      China is different since it is a large scale market in addition to a creator of technology. So, internally within China, a lot could be achieved which will add value especially considering the emphasis in China based on the Chinese premier Wen Jiabo’s vision that: Internet + Internet of Things = Wisdom of the Earth.

e)      Can China influence standards? This is a more complex and perhaps a non technological question. But the observation I make it – the rate of uptake of NFC will mean that in the west a parallel ecosystem will develop based on NFC which will mean that influencing standards on a global basis may not be so relevant as a competitive advantage.

Conclusion :

I suspect that NFC will achieve much of the goals for IOT but not on scale but we may see scale in specific geographies where governments can influence standards and achieve interoperability. We saw the same with Korea and Japan for mobile ecosystems. Both achieved high mobile growth within their respective geographies but could not translate it into global uptake.

I also find the alternative view of IOT(that of making objects web addressable) interesting especially when tied to the Cloud

In any case, I love studying ecosystems and IOT will be very interesting ..

Is Twittter the glue for the Internet of things?

This blog is the basis of my talk at the #140 characters event held at the same time as mobile world congress Barcelona(focussing on the Real time internet). It brings a few ideas together.

To me, it indicates the significance of Twitter especially as a platform. I have always been interested in platforms and the disruptive potential of platforms i.e. anything that can be a platform can gain vast competitive advantages over the competition.

So, Twitter is a platform since it is simple, it is free and hence agnostic and it allows unpredictable use. When combined with the Cloud, mobility and sensors twitter could take on a far more disruptive role in the future

Here is how ..

Suppose I enter the room and go ‘swish’ with my mobile device (like a wand)

What happens?

Nothing

What could happen?

Considering the device knows who I am, it should be able to feed this information via sensors and these sensors in turn should be able to activate services that act upon my ‘accelerometer driven’ movement of my mobile device.

What type of services?

Maybe just to say ‘hi’ to my friends on twitter who are in the room.

Now, on a network level – this is possible. Ex Bluetooth has always promised such services .. But not delivered! Other technologies also face the same problem – NFC, RFID etc all work in pockets but not pervasively

Network layer services globally are hard to deploy and take time (costs, device cycles, global interconnect, walled gardens etc etc).

The web is faster and could achieve the same thing

That’s where Twitter comes in

Devices don’t have to talk to each other. They have to communicate to an equivalent object in the Cloud which in turn invokes the ‘other’ object also in the cloud

The communication to and from the cloud is via a combination of sensors, twitter and mobile devices.

Thus, Twitter is the glue/missing link that binds the Internet of Things

What are the options?

Bluetooth has not taken off. SMS is expensive and is not a platform

Twitter could be the best choice for this vision

This is not science fiction.

Tower bridge, Toasters, Popcorn makers, Toilets, laundry, a cat(stockington), a duck, an R2D2 and a whole house have been made to tweet.

Smart grids also need a simple standard to hook up: for example you could capture all this intelligence and compare against existing standards (for carbon footprint for example)

So, for this to work – things must be capable of measurement (sensors), they must interconnecting (Twitter?) and they must be intelligent

Web 2.0 has taught us that people become creators of data. Web 3.0 could be that devices become creators of data (by answering the question – What are you doing now/ What’s happening).

Any ‘event’ can be recorded if it can be sensed – ex a mousetrap,

But ironically the ‘Internet of things’ may not be the best analogy

The Internet of things needs objects to be Internet identifiable. That is fine

But it also implies http protocol

Which may not be the best for devices since it is based on polling a server periodically

Alternatives may include some form of publish – subscribe model.

It could be based on Twitter

But it could also be XMPP

Wired has a great wiki on How to make your Gadgets twitter

You need

• A microcontroller

• Some software for sending tweets

• A network connection of some sort

• A sensor to detect a change in the appliance’s operating state

• A Twitter account for your gadget

The microcontroller is a CPU with some RAM on a small circuit board designed to perform simple dedicated tasks. In addition, the system needs an Ethernet cable jack or a Wi-fi card + software + sensor(s) all of which feeds into a twitter account

To conclude:

• A coming together of Twitter, sensors, Cloud and Mobile could be very disruptive

• Twitter could be the glue that binds the Internet of things. The Internet of Things itself could be a misnomer in this context since the device may be IP enabled but not connected via http(but rather a higher level service like Twitter or XMPP in a publish-subscribe mode)

microcontroller and sensor - twitter - wired.jpg

An Arduino microcontroller board, (left) and A 3-axis accelerometer, (right)

Source – wired

And a video of a house that twitters!

Update

Thanks for the comments and feedback on this talk

I know Twitter is ‘non standard’. And the twitter whale goes belly up more times than we like without managing device communications :)

Having said that ..

Tim o reilly had a post somewhere .. Which said .. Watch where people play ie watch what the hackers are doing to. Spot the next big breakthrough. I don’t see them creating intelligent toasters out of standards yet.

That’s why the trend is significant

Ultimately, standards may emerge but the trend itself is interesting

WOMMA MIA .. what happens when agencies try to create a framework for social media along the lines of Television ..

I have been following WOMMA(word of mouth marketing association), initially with some interest – but later with considerable scepticism.

Most notably of their desire to create a whole new lexicon for social media all starting with ‘W’ – ex WOM units(word of mouth) units; WOM episodes, WOMMY awards etc etc .. – to which I add my own WOMMA Mia! :)

A list of such ‘W’s is HERE(see pdf)

Despite talk of ethics, there is a dark side to this ..

It is an attempt to create a framework for ‘trading’ social media along the lines of television. (conversations are ‘episodes’ for example) with the hope that it will lead to smoke filled rooms for negotiating social media episode rights for advertising dollars.(and those ‘episodes’ are conversations between people like you and me!)

In other words, it attempts to create a framework / lexicon which suits advertisers BUT does not suit us(as individuals). I asked once before: The elephant in the room: Can agencies be a part Agency 2.0? and this would in turn create a role for the agencies in the social media space.

In contrast, networks like GLAM or FM publishing who originate from the social media space probably don’t need the agencies since they have their own social media networks and can bypass agencies directly.

Being a big fan of animation and cartoons, this addition of ‘W’ reminds me of a character called Elmer Fudd who replaces his Rs with Ws, so “Watch the road, Rabbit,” is replaced with “Watch the woad, wabbit!”

So, when I hear wommy awards, womm units wom episodes .. I think of this classic .. (listen to words like ‘Wabbit’, ‘waay’ etc etc)

So, to conclude:

I don’t have too high hopes for the WOMMA approach

I don’t see people using those terms(they suit Elmer fudd better!)

I don’t see what problem it solves for the customers

I see that it solves a problem for the agencies(aligning social media advertising with TV advertising)

But that means little to the rest of us ..

The reality for PR (with some excellent notable exceptions) is much closer to emails like this I receive below. This is a PR person from a public company … who thinks my blog is about ‘gardens’ :) ha ha! which means they have never seen it even once! I post the entire press release below to give them coverage for their repeated but misguided efforts :) (and they keep sending it to me a few times!) i.e. not a one off

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Marshalls Make a Big Splash on

BBC TV Scotland’s Beechgrove Garden Programme

Leading UK hard landscaping manufacturing company Marshalls plc recently challenged Scotland’s premier TV garden show, Beechgrove Garden, to create a big splash to demonstrate the effectiveness of their domestic permeable paving.

To be aired on Wednesday 22nd July at 1930 hours on BBC1 Scotland (viewers south of the border digital channel 971), the step by step feature shows Marshalls installing one of its leading ranges of permeable paving, Drivesett Argent Priora. Then in a dramatic finish to the piece, the Beechgrove Garden team fill the bucket of a three ton dumper truck with water and tip it, all at once, on to the 40 square metre driveway.

This equates to approximately 1100 litres of water saturating the space, well in excess of a hundred year storm and all in just a few seconds!

Having only one chance to film the presenter’s true and honest reaction, Marshalls think it is fare to say the faces and images will say it all. Like magic, the water disappears as quickly as it appeared. Proving how simple and effective the Marshalls system is in times of light, heavy or even sustained rainfall and most importantly eliminating its run off in to our hard pressed drainage networks.

These kinds of volumes of water over large areas have now been recognised as contributing to the catastrophic flooding experienced in recent years throughout the UK in our urban areas. In fact, 95% of rainfall in built up areas finds its way quickly into the drainage system and adds to the risk of flooding in heavy downpours. This prompted the Government to introduce new Legislation (England & Wales Only) on developing a front garden area and why Beechgrove Garden asked Marshalls to demonstrate this innovative paving. The new legislation states:

‘The permitted development rights allowing householders to pave over their front garden for hardstanding without planning permission have changed. As of 1st October 2008 planning permission will be required to lay traditional impermeable driveways that allow uncontrolled runoff of rainwater from front gardens onto roads, because this can contribute to flooding and pollution of water courses. However, householders will not require planning permission if they use permeable paving, or have sufficient drainage or soak away to ensure run off from non-permeable surfaces does not go onto roads.’

Marshalls has a range of domestic permeable paving solutions that allow the infiltration of rainfall into the watercourse in a slow and measured way, as close as possible to the natural process of rain falling on undisturbed ground.

Tagged with the name of ‘Priora’ this paving is available in its leading block paving lines. The Priora blocks have a unique patented nib design around the outside of the block allowing water to disappear between the gaps it creates whilst still having all the proven qualities and robustness of a traditional Marshalls block paved driveway. These blocks are used in conjunction with specifically specified aggregates for the sub base. For additional hard standing Marshalls also has Grassgaurd, a permeable grass grid which allows grass to grow through it keeping a verdant outlook, but also more than capable of parking a car on.

However, the company does say, and it is recognised in the Legislation, that this kind of system is not suitable for all sites due to ground conditions – clay or heavy soil, where the land has a certain gradient which slopes towards the house, or even if it is below the water table. It also states the installation of a permeable driveway is not a DIY project, but a DIFM (Do it for Me) one. For the best advice Marshalls suggests speaking to an approved installer of permeable driveways.

Since the implementation of the Legislation Marshalls has trained over 315 companies throughout the UK (including Scotland) on its Register of Approved Landscape Contractors and Driveway Installers on how to fit its specific system. These independent companies abide by a strict code of conduct set by Marshalls and are regularly assessed on their quality of work. Details of an approved installer can be found at: www.marshalls.co.uk/transform.

This kind of commitment to quality, design and workmanship is expressed in Marshalls national Campaigning for ‘Better Landscapes’. A movement calling for both public and private bodies, as well as individuals, to seriously consider the societal and individual benefits of creating ‘better landscapes’ in our towns, cities, public spaces and our private gardens. The campaign urges us all to take positive action by engaging with the social, economic and environmental benefits and to make the purchasing decisions which deliver these benefits.

Beechgrove Garden is a Scottish gardening programme which sets out to deal with, glory in and celebrate Scottish horticulture and growing conditions. The programme is and always has been a firmly practical, get-your-hands-dirty programme and it proudly shows success, and learns from failures in the garden, and never takes itself too seriously.

ENDS

Date: 17 June 2009

Notes to the Editor:

1. Marshalls plc is the UK’s leading manufacturer of superior natural stone and innovative concrete hard landscaping products, supplying the construction, home improvement and landscape markets. It provides the product ranges, design services, technical expertise, ideas and inspiration to transform gardens, drives and public and commercial landscapes.

2. Marshalls plc has one of its leading manufacturing facilities in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

3. Marshalls has a bespoke Display Centre at Transformer House, Tophill Entry, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, FK2 7LW where people can see Marshalls’ garden and driveway products in real life settings. The centre is open in the summer seven days a week Mon to Sat: 9.30am – 5.30 pm and Sunday 10.30am – 5.30pm. Winter 10.00am – 4.00pm.

4. Attached is high resolution image of an installed Marshalls permeable driveway using Drivesett Argent Priora.

For further Information please contact:

www.marshalls.co.uk

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