FS Links, a consortium dedicated to lay the foundation work for the use of hyperloop technology in northern Europe, has presented a pre-feasability study on how the Finnish and Swedish capital cities Helsinki and Stockholm could be connected by a hyperloop network. A connection that would reduce travel time down to approximately 28 minutes! The construction cost would be an estimated 19 billion euro, which at a first glance sounds like a lot of money, but in comparison to some estimates recently published for a conventional high-speed railway connecting Sweden’s three biggest city it actually no longer feel all that extreme. Of course this is all a very early study and not a formal prospect.
The first section of the Polish capital’s second underground metro line has been completed and are now subject to final inspections and checks before opening. Originally intended to be completed in time for the Euro 2012 football world cup, delays changed the time plan and the seven stations spread over six kilometres of track are now to be operative in mid-November this year.
Copenhagen Airport (Københavns Lufthavn) plans to grow greatly during the coming years, having set a goal of increasing the yearly capacity from the current 24 million passengers to 40 million in 25 years time. This will according to the airport company be possible due to positioning itself even harder as a major hub in northern Europe. The expansion is however dependent on that cities and regions both in the whole cross-border Øresund region of Denmark and Sweden manage to attract businesses and tourists in such a scale that it becomes economically viable, something that is not impossible, given the current growth, but requires continued efforts in order to not lose momentum.
Due to the shifting global climate the nothern sea route between Europe and East Asia has, if not become a viable alternative to the common sea route, so at least a potential choice.
The Stena Polaris freighter has now successfully utilized the route on a journey from Europe to East Asia, thereby showing that this route is starting to be an option. The voyage has been chronicled on the ship’s website at www.stenanorthernsearoute.com.
Die Zeit has a very interesting article – in English even – showing exactly how much you can do with data collection from today’s mobile phones.
For a technology-interested geographer like me, it’s both very intriguing and a bit scary at the same time.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Althing – the parliament of Iceland – and a former Wikileaks supporter has apparently been informed by Twitter that the US Department of Justice has demanded that Twitter turns over the stored Twitter data they have regarding her account. This includes all actual tweets as well as some personal information about her. Not surprisingly, she is regarding the subpoena as a breach of privacy since she is not suspected of any crime. While Twitter have chosen to actually inform the targeted person of the existence of the subpoena, there seem to be a rising suspicion that other companies such as Google and Facebook are not as open toward their users. Which of course makes it an even worse privacy break since the persons are not even aware of that their personal information are eventually turned over to a third party, no matter that the third party happens to be a US governmental body.
The main problem here is not only the fact that personal user data aren’t as protected as the users in most case presume it to be, but also the fact that personal data belonging to persons not even in the legal jurisdiction of a country can be submitted to that country’s views of legality when it comes to data protection. In one way, if the process described in this case is deemed legal by US courts, it is perfectly legal. A sovereign state has the full right to have a bad legal protection when it comes to data – so long as it doesn’t go against any potential international treaties and agreement said state has signed of course. The problem however takes on a diffent dimension when personal data given up by persons not residing in or in any way having a connection to said state end up getting their personal information ceded to the authories in that state.
Now, of course there most likely is a clause in the user agreements for both Twitter, Facebook and Google that states something like that the user agrees to having their personal data stored and handled in the USA, and as such being under the jurisdiction of the US legal system. But the real question is how many of the millions of international users who are actually aware of this fact. Data protection and safety are tricky things, since they are so elusive in their geographical attachment.
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/08/us-twitter-hand-icelandic-wikileaks-messages, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/08/wikileaks-calls-google-facebook-us-subpoenas?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487
The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano has in a very clear way showed both the weaknesses and strenghts in modern communications. The mass cancellations of flights in large parts of Europe and across the north Atlantic have undoubtedly meant great disturbances in the international transportation sectors both logistically and economically. But the interruptions have also shown the strenghts of other communication networks, both physical ones and telecommunications. Because with todays technology in reality the need for physical travel in order to conduct business is lower than it used to be. In many cases vide and voice conferences can replace the physical meeting, and in the cases it cannot, there are still in many cases alternatives in the form of high-speed trains. In the best case the temporary closure of the European airspace will put a renewed focus on the almost as fast and environmentally sounder ways of inter-European transportation that exist and should be expanded upon.