Copy, coasts and Kylie

Underwater   Do you remember when 2050 seemed like the distant future? It isn’t. If you can remember Kylie topping the charts with ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ then basically it’s the same amount of time again. In that context the results of a new climate change study by scientists at Princeton should be mildly terrifying. Previous thinking suggested that 37 million people would be living below high tide levels by 2050. Under the revised analysis, which adjusted for more accurate data on elevations, this figure increases to 150m. To make this a bit more real, major global cities such as Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok would be almost entirely underwater by this date. The most affected countries are in Asia and island nations. However, some specific locations in major Western economies (e.g. very populous areas in the coastal plain of Florida) are affected. Previously we have looked to reducing carbon emissions as the solution to this problem. However, as targets continue to go unmet, solutions will increasingly refocus on amelioration measures such as sea walls and other flood defences, (110m people worldwide are currently protected by these). In the UK the main coastal flooding issues are along the east coast, with towns like Boston and cities like Hull significantly at risk. In Hull where 98% of homes are in at-risk flooding areas, the local authority has introduced binding obligations for sustainable drainage provision. Ultimately there will be tough choices; invest significantly in enhanced flood defences (like the Netherlands) or stop development and relocate large numbers of people. The impacts are likely to be increasingly felt in mortgage applications, planning policy and the valuation of affected property. #climatechange #flooding

Last link   The last mile in the supply chain has been thrust into importance in recent years, as the balance between e-commerce and traditional retail channels continues to shift. That’s particularly so this coming week, when couriers expect to double the volume of parcel deliveries thanks to Cyber Monday, and as the large operators such as Amazon and Alibaba seek to vertically integrate last mile operations into their businesses. Despite the increased use of e-commerce, the final stage of delivery to a collection point or home remains disproportionately expensive when compared with other logistics elements in the supply chain. A paper recently released by our Logistics & Industrial Research team examines the drivers of cost in this ‘last link’ and what this might mean for the future of urban logistics. A key takeaway is that the cost of rent in a typical consumer goods logistics operation is very small (<5%) relative to other costs, such as transportation (50%+). For the time being, therefore, the cost focus is not on the rent. Rent is however a higher proportion of cost in the last mile, where rents are higher and distance travelled is less; automation of some transport modes will amplify this. So will rents come under pressure? The research shows that for many urban locations (particularly those where travel time to destination is >30 mins) the inclusion of an e-fulfilment centre in the supply chain design is accretive. View the research and the underpinning cost model HERE#logistics #lastmile

City priorities   Australian cities tend to lead the world on quality of life scores and innovation in the workplace, but is the sheen starting to come off the former? New research published by the Committee for Sydney think tank, which benchmarked its position against other global cities, highlights some cracks. The report finds that: (1) residential accommodation is too expensive, (2) it needs to bolster its night-time economy and cultural breadth, (3) it is underinvested in transport infrastructure. These issues are not unique to Sydney and whilst there are some nuances around historic development typologies in Australia (typically not as dense as peer cities in Europe), these 3 factors also set a strategic prospectus of priorities for most UK cities. The problem in the UK is that we don’t have the luxury of fantastic beaches within reach of the CBD and year-round good weather. Against this backdrop, the challenges identified in Sydney are thrown into sharper relief. In a world driven by globalised knowledge services, the ability of a city to succeed rests on its ability to compete for talent (and vicariously then commerce) which will fuel its economic development. Both a lack of housing affordability and an underperforming transport infrastructure are, ironically, often indicators of a city’s success. However, they are also signs that policy is not succeeding, or at least not keeping pace at reallocating resources to match its growth. Culture has historically been missed from this equation; but nowadays is recognised as essential talent infrastructure in the same vein as housing and transport. It needs to be afforded similar priority. #cities #infrastructure

Print 2025   Over the past 10 years, technology has changed how we work and is deployed in offices in both large and small ways. Perhaps the most significant and one of the earliest innovations was the shift from paper-based resources (previously fundamental to office operations) to digital information and storage. Hence, we now all work in paperless offices. You don’t? In most cases businesses are a long way from having made the shift to paperless. This must surely be influenced by a small number of ageing luddites, clinging doggedly to their paper files from the 1990s, ‘just in case’? Again, no. A recent study by Quocirca reveals that the pace of change is most held back by IT departments, who mistake the business requirements. 48% of respondents considered that print will still be an important part of business operations by 2025. However, breaking this down: only 36% of office workers felt this way, whereas 65% of IT decision makers thought so. The reasons for going digital are becoming more and more compelling. Digitally stored information is: (1) sharable with multiple people, (2) sharable instantly across the globe (3) searchable, indexable and analysable, (4) more secure than the paper equivalent, (5) cheaper to store, and (6) more environmentally sustainable. As business operations in the knowledge sector shift towards data and digitally enabled processes, getting rid of paper copy feels inevitable and necessary. From a requirements perspective the associated floorspace could therefore be liberated. #digital #office

Acute accent issues   Increasing geographic mobility has been a feature of our workforce over the past 50 years (from both within and outside our country). ONS data shows unsurprisingly that the group most likely to have moved between local authority areas within the past 5 years is those in their 20s; whereas the most transitional area is London and the South East. In particular, those with higher educational attainment / those in skilled occupations were more likely to fall within this group. So how do these young upwardly mobile movers adapt to their new environment? According to a poll of office workers by 4com, many apparently fake their accent. The poll suggests that 35% of Londoners (and a similar percentage of Glaswegians) modify their accent at work to sound more professional. Brummies were the least likely to adapt. The days of received pronunciation are over; however, the poshness of one’s accent can be a very relative phenomenon. To me, Mrs P. sounds a bit like a cross between Kylie Minogue and Madge Ramsay (alcohol dependent). However, having lived in London for more than 10 years, her friends back in Aus tell her that she now speaks like the Queen. Meanwhile, as someone who grew up in ‘ull, I always considered an example of a posh accent to be someone from Leeds. #weirdandwonderful #MrsP #Hull