Monday, April 27, 2009

How to make Melbourne trains more livable..part 1

Why are Melbourne trains so generic? They get us from point A to B, sure, but that's about it. Like our homes, and workplaces, we spend much of our lives in trains, so it stands to reason that we should try to make these "spaces" more livable.

In livable, I mean mood enhancing cues and general usability. Suggesting that there should be more services, space to breath, is a given. It's my hope that these mood cues, can make the long commute home, or the sardine squeeze a little bit more bearable.

In my first brainstorm, I suggest 3 factors that can enhance our experience. They are lighting, colours, and standing support.

The current lighting regime consists of cool white fluro lights, on at all times of the day. What are the benefits and problems with this? A cool white light in the morning, can help us become more alert, it's useful for reading and enchances general visability. So far so good.... Until we reach the end of the day. How do we feel by the end of the day? A little bit tired? Those that want a little shuteye, would find it extremely hard to sleep with a cool white light. Suggestion 1. Have a set of warm white lights to offset cool white lights. These will turn on during sunset, to match the outside mood. Lights, will preferably dim, to relax us after a long days work.

Technology of trains also needs to keep up with this livability enhancement. Should we fall asleep, a system using GPS and our mobile phones should alert us upon us approaching a station. Much like an outlook alert, we should be able to set the alert for x stops ahead, or perhaps time the alert to x minutes before reaching the platform. A much need enhancement regardless, of the possiblity of falling asleep.

Aswell as the use of lighting to set our moods, we can also use colours for the same effect. The generic white used in our current cabins scream monotony. Suggestion 2: Use colours and artwork to break the monotony. With the right interior designers, and budding young artists, the train interior can be a canvas to inspire creativity. Do we need to go to a gallery to inspire ourselves? Or can it be with us everyday? The key to making this work, is freshness, so these interior canvasses must be updated regularly. Let's make it happen melbourne.

As being able to get a seat is becoming more and more a luxury during peak hours, measures that can make standing more bearable must be explored. Suggestion 3: Have designated leaning zones with cushioning. This suggestion, controversially includes taking a stand on livability and yes means taking away seats to give more space to those that are sitting. Lets banish those cramped 3 seater configurations forever!!

What I suggest is to do away with the 2 and 3 seater configurations and simply have 1 row of comfortably sized seats along both sides of the train. The centre shall contain a row of cushioned leaning zones made of extremely comfortable material (think croc shoes, and latex pillows). So if we sit, we should be able to sit comfortably, if we stand we should also be able to stand comfortably.

The days of the cattle class and thoughtless, bland design can come to an end if we choose to think rather than accept the status quo. Let's get some ideas out there, and improve this system!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Melbourne Public Holiday Campaign

Public holidays are essential occasions that help us renew, reconnect and reinvigorate to better participate in the work force. Aside from the established holidays like Christmas, Easter, Aus Day and Anzac day, we need to perhaps shift the Queens Birthday or add an extra holiday between the Queens Birthday and Melbourne Cup. Four long months without a decent break really takes it out of you.

So what should this new Public Holiday commemorate? What day should it be? Let me know.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Springvale Shopping Centre Congestion must be fixed!!

How long can Dandenong council close its eyes to this problem? The lack of parking spots is causing major congestion to this area, and on top of this the whole area needs some more traffic regulation in terms of traffic lights to allow traffic to flow better.

What are your thoughts? Here are a couple of things I'm suggesting.

1) Ban parking on the North end of Buckingham Avenue between Queen and Balmoral avenue. This avenue is supposed to be a throughfare for traffic turning right onto springvale rd from lightwood rd. But gets clogged up too easily by people waiting to park, or people attempting to park/leaving. A set of traffic lights also needs to be added to the Queens Avenue/Buckhingham Avenue intersection.

2) Rezone land surrounding springvale shopping centre to be mixed residential/commercial. This will hopefully entice developers to start buying properties surrounding the springvale shopping area, and hence develop a propoer parking solution. A whole block of land needs to be bought, and underground parking included as an integrated solution.

3) Redevelop springvale station to be closer to the market. It probably needs to be shifted to be west of springvale rd, and placed underground. With a development connecting Newcomen Rd and Queens Avenue. This will also help solve the congestion problems on this end of springvale rd.

4) Start building a multistorey car park in the exising single level car parking area on buckingham avenue.

Springvale Rd Bike/Bus Campaign

Problem 1: 20 Minutes from Canterbury Rd to Nunawading station in peak hour! 20 minutes for 2kms. No wonder people don't bother with the 888 bus. Might as well get off at Canterbury rd and walk the rest of the way. Takes about the same time.

Problem 2: Riding down Springvale rd to get to the bike track along the freeway. Not for the faint hearted!

Solution: Build a right of way lane down the centre of springvale rd that buses and bikes can ride exclusively. Kill two birds with one stone. This north south public transport/bike expressway can act as a feeder network connecting the east west running train lines.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Making energy inconvenient campaign!

Reducing CO2 can be looked at from a supply and demand side. From a supply side, we can look at increasing renewables such as PV, wind, wave power,etc to complement the dirty coal power supply. From the demand side, we can look to to businesses, govts, ngos and consumers to reduce energy demand.

On the demand side we can do several things to influence demand. Charge more for energy. Did this really stop us from using oil? Ration energy (happens during hot temperature days to prevent blackouts). Have better energy efficiency standards. (Which I believe is an excellent way to reduce demand and drive innovation.) Educate people. Useful, but it's too easy to indulge in excess energy consumption when things are "on tap".

Considering the "on tap energy" problem, I had a "newton apple moment", when using my netbook on the go. Why doesn't all electrical equipment have batteries as the main source, and periodically charge when needed? Do we really need to be constantly "plugged in"? Do desktop computers need to be plugged in? Do televisions need to be plugged in? Or can they use batteries, and be charged overnight? A huge problem that needs to be tackled is "THE CONVENIENCE OF ENERGY". Batteries can teach us to be conservative with our use. Forcing us to take an extra step to "plug in" should be the default. This process should make us think about our usage and hopefully reduce demand.

Batteries, however, can be quite toxic. Thus we should consider how we can recycle batteries after they are past their use by date in "cradle to cradle" manner. This requires a standardization of design within industry fields. Television manufacturers should adopt a certain battery spec, desktop manufactuers are battery spec. So, I think this problem can be overcome.

I'm hoping this type of thinking can start as a trend in one industry, and build to a tipping point where it is adopted in others, because of the benefits for the environment. Can desktop manufacturers be the guinea pigs? DELL? LENOVO? ASUS? HP?

DESKTOP PCs with batteries! Let's make Al Gore proud, and make energy inconvenient!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Connex Tweet Campaign & Wally of the week!

Does connex really need to use two tvs to say "Welcome to the Customer Information Centre"? What a complete waste of energy & money for something that can be done by two posters. Congratulations for winning the "Wally of the week!" (7th April 2009).

Connex, either take those tv's down, or put them to use! As part of the tendering for the new contract, the state government requests you provide more information to passengers regarding delays. Why wait to win the tender to do it? Start now, and use these monitors to display your twitter updates. Get some much needed kudos from the public, and lose the wally of the week tag.

LoveJumper, No Heater Campaign.

As we enter the transition period from summer into winter, now is a great time to think about our habits towards getting warm! Can we do without that electric heater (which is a potential fire hazard)? Can we do without ducted heating (which causes us to have dry sore throats in the morning). Here are a few essentials to get you past the coming winter.

1) Thermals! Long johns, undergarments and socks. As healthy human beings we generate 37 degrees, just to stay alive. Let's insulate our bodies, and use this free heat to keep us warm.

2) Hot water bottles. Cheap and effective.

3) Ugg boots. These were the must have item in the US last winter! Let's bring this fashion back home..

4) Better blankets. Blankets with better insulating properties. Crack out the camping gear, and the sleeping bag rated to work to -5 deg!!

5) Insulating our homes. Walls and windows are the greatest culprits. If renovating your home, better insulation should be one of your first ports of call to save on cooling and heating. Rudd's new insulation scheme should help out. Get more info here:
Windows, is a much easier to tackle. A cheap fix is to get some velcro and tape an old disused down blanket onto the window. Pillows will also do, but they are less effective.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pedestrian Underpass Eastern Fwy Campaign

Below is a pet peeve of mine, entering the eastern and having to wait for the pedestrian crossing. Not only does it reduce the flow of traffic, it's dangerous for pedestrians and drivers.

Somebody needs to look into building either a pedestrian underpass or a bridge. An underpass would be a preferred solution, as a large amount of trucks pass the area, and that could lead to diffuculities with load heights. Let's get things happening, one bottleneck at a time.

You know the deal with campaigning, you have to contact people to make things happen. I suggest 3 people/orgs: Vicroads, the roads minister Tim Pallas and the local council.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Train Timetable monitor upgrade campaign

In my relentless drive to stamp out energy wastage, my next campaign will focus on replacing those ancient train time table monitors at melbourne city loop stations and box hill.

These energy wasters are probably 20+ years old and huge energy wasters. Why use two monitors when you can get away with a single widescreen lcd monitor. When you consider these are back to back you can save 2 monitors, and make a difference in energy savings.

Do any electronics stores want to donate a couple of energy efficient lcd monitors? Or shall we turn the screws on connex?

Get the message across.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Anti Smoking Campaign ideas

It should be pretty clear that smoking is addictive, kills you and causes cancer by now. These messages, I believe are losing there shock value. I think its time anti-smoking advertising matures aswell. We need to find new ways to get the message across, and make people think twice about their actions. Of course, the cancer message still needs to shown, to continue to reinforce the message, but new campaigns like those listed below should also be considered.

Below are a couple of pictures that I have created based on the original smoking causes cancer. Please comment.

Use the template below to create your own in GIMP or Photoshop.

Melbourne Theatre lights upgrade campaign

Was just walking past the theatre district in melbourne, and noticed that shit loads of incadescent lights were in use there. What a waste of energy, plus waste of money for the owners of the theatres. I'm considering petitioning the owners to replace them with energy efficient fluro lights, but lets be honest, they're butt ugly. And those round globe things have a certain character about them. A throwback to an era where theatre was the main form of entertainment.

UPDATE: Found a globe to replace them, that isn't those ugly energy efficient compact globes.

Beacon lighting sells it. Uses only 7w compared to what 60 or 100w.

Next step approach the owners and suggest these as an alternative!!
Gonna ask for help from WWF too!!

Wish me luck.