OU on the BBC: Click - A Route 66 of the future

In a series of programmes, The Open University and Click road test some of the new technologies that aim to improve our lives.

By: Click on BBC World Service (Programme and web teams)

  • Updated Wednesday 17th April 2013
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Radio, Click
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Strawberry Tree Black in Tašmajdan Park in Belgrade Creative commons image Renewablesfuturelicensed for reuse under CC BY-SA 3.0 under Creative-Commons license Strawberry Tree in Belgrade

About the series

We spend much of our lives on roads but they are often the least intelligent aspects of modern life, with arterial roads so clogged that at times: if an accident happens, far from sending an ambulance they might just as well have sent a hearse.

Click will learn from the trials of the Greenway routing system in Germany that books you and your car a traffic-free slot on the autobahn/motorway; and from Singaporeans who say they benefit from electronic road pricing gantries, and car-counting loop detectors. This year the Netherlands starts to install smart road design that features interactive lights that switch on and off as cars pass and wind-powered lights by the roadside. The ideas have also caught on in India to help with the many blackouts on the road.

In this series, presenter Gareth Mitchell saddles up on the Copenhagen Wheel, which collects real-time urban data from citizens on their bikes that is fed back into the integrated network public transport; uses an app to log potholes and bumps in the road in Boston; and test drives an autonomous car in South Korea.

As the new connectivity brings benefits, it also raises concerns about privacy. Click hears from Kolkata which will come under a hi-tech urban surveillance system never before seen in the country with the "Object Tracking/Processing Unit", a fully automated system which analyses visual patterns to spot rape, molestation and robbery on the streets and initiate real-time action by police.

Click also plugs into the “Strawberry Tree” on the outskirts of Belgrade where students have created the world's first free and public solar-powered mobile phone charger where, while topping up, 1,000 people per day gather and chat - like they did before social networking. More “Strawberry Trees” will be planted throughout Serbia. Cities will inevitably become bigger and busier in the future and people will yearn for oases of calm. After such a long journey Click logs onto a web- and smartphone-based platform in Melbourne where people can crowd source and geo-locate quiet spaces.

The most recent programme

In episode sixClick's Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson discuss the conundrum of tech and transport with a panel of experts. Missed any episodes of Click: A Route 66 of the future? Catch up with episode oneepisode twoepisode threeepisode four and episode five.

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