One of the most striking things about the way that snow cripples the country is the reluctance of organisations to use technology.
Any snowy day, I guarantee one thing (well, apart from the papers being full of whingers moaning about the lack of gritters) is that my mailbox will be full of mail from PR companies talking about the benefits of home-working, a task that will be made much easier if, the mails say, businesses would only employ products from company X or company Y.
There's an obvious truth here.I do wonder just how many people need to travel 20, 30, 40 miles to work every day? But there's more to it than that - is the actual work all that important?
I know of several people who say that they could work more effectively from home but would miss the buzz of the office and would hate to miss out on the gossip and the social atmosphere and I know of others who say that they'd be happy to work from home if it wasn't for the kids. All of these people could work from home using a secure VPN but choose to go into the office. It's clear, it's not access to the PCs employees want - it's the availability of 3D avatars who are programmed to chat about the previous night's football or who Teresa in accounts is seeing now. Still, it seems that the home videoconferencing system is not far away, so this might be a possibility for the future.
What's not really been acceptable however is the way that public-facing websites are buckling under pressure or are not updated regularly. During the last cold snap, my local council's website about the passability of roads was not updated between Friday afternoon and Monday morning - something which drew withering comment from the local paper (whose own website wasn't performing much better). Train information was almost impossible to obtain as the web servers were buckling under the pressure of the deluge of enquiries - a seeming return to the early days of the Internet when an old 386 machine could be pressed into operation as a webserver and load balancing was a way of carrying the shopping home.
I have little time for people who say that we can't handle snow well - we don't get enough of it to have an infrastructure to clear it immediately. But there's little excuse for organisations not to supply up-to-the-minute travel information - perhaps that could be a new year's resolution for travel companies and local authorities alike.
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