London's Learning

Friday 21 August 2009

Continuing NLA’s workplace series this month, Philip Ross, CEO of The Cordless Group, presented a fascinating vision of the potential impacts of ‘cloud computing’ on London’s workplaces at a packed breakfast talk this morning.

‘Cloud computing’ refers to a method of computing where all applications and data are stored in remote data centres (otherwise known as ‘the cloud’). This includes applications such as Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo, which allow the user to access information and applications remotely.

Philip Ross told NLA that the potential impact of such applications in our cities and workspaces could be quite dramatic. With the user able to correspond and access information from any location, the fixed office desk becomes redundant and the regular commute less easy to justify. Paper also becomes unwarranted as computer screens increasingly display non-printable videos and links.

What’s more, there is a burgeoning market around ‘cloud’ technology applications for the workplace, including online discussion forums, virtual workplaces and real-time office and employee tracking systems, which could allow employers to engineer chance encounters. The budding new generation internet IPv6 will further allow every object in the world to have a unique address in the cloud (or 2128 individual addresses) and potentially report back to users/owners in real time, spawning a huge realm of possibilities.

However, Philip Ross noted that the London Plan as yet shows little recognition of the impacts of this potential change in workplace technology. Is this something that needs to be considered and how great are the impacts likely to be?

Philip is an author, commentator and consultant specialising in the impact of emerging technology on the world of work and the workplace.

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