- Cloud Essentials
- Software as a Service
- Accounting / Financial
- Asset Management
- Business Intelligence
- Business Process Management
- Compliance & Risk Management
- Content Management
- Document Management
- Help Desk Management
- IT / Application Management
- Project Management
- Transportation & Logistics
- Infrastructure as a Service
- Platform as a Service
Why cloud leads the way for road pricing
Drivers are dead set against road pricing but if cloud is any guideline, they're fighting a losing battle
On the face of it there doesn’t appear to be much connection between the current kerfuffle around road-pricing and cloud computing, but they’re part and parcel of the same trend.
Road pricing is one of those ideas that make periodic appearances in the media. The last Labour government looked at the idea, the RAC is supportive of the idea, the Coalition government has looked at the idea and now, the RAC is at it again, teaming up with the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggesting that road pricing is “inevitable”. Every time the issue is raised, there are a multitude of readers’ comments threatening the direst retribution against any government that proposes such a thing and, with memories of the two-million strong petition against pricing fresh in its mind, governments push road pricing to the back of the filing cabinet.
But the problem they’re trying to address isn’t going away. Put simply, the road network is grossly inefficient: a five-mile journey at rush hour can easily take an hour (leading to extra fuel consumption and pollution), drivers setting off for appointments invariably build in time for delays, an inefficient use of time, and those heavily-used roads need maintenance. The latest estimate is that vehicle congestion will cost British business around £24 billion by the middle of the next decade
At the moment, there are two measures to pay for this: vehicle excise duty and duty (plus VAT) on fuel itself but these are crude measures, failing to distinguish too finely between types of usage. For example, the rural motorist (far more dependent on the car than the urban one) often pays a higher price than motorists in the city – than ones who are actually contributing to the congestion. Road pricing could avoid this phenomenon.
What’s this got to do with cloud computing. Well, many of the problems facing CEOS and CIOs are the same problems facing road planners: a need to drastically reduce fuel (power) consumption and to cut emissions; a desire to use capacity more efficiently and avoid bottlenecks, and a desire to reduce expenditure, partly achieved by aligning usage more closely with costs.
Many organisations have grasped the nettle and started tackling some of these inefficiencies so that servers are no longer running at under 10 percent of capacity, and licensing is more closely aligned with business need. It’s a change that has generally been widely accepted.
That’s not been the case with any form of road-pricing – it’s deeply unpopular. Herod could have introduced road-pricing instead of slaughter of the first-born and he’d only be marginally less reviled. There are many reasons why road-pricing is opposed: cost to the motorist (although it could be fiscally neutral, disabling this argument), civil liberties (an argument that could easily be circumvented) and infrastructure cost.
We’re still at the early stage of cloud computing. I wrote last week that the move towards cloud is not necessarily a technical one, but has to be accompanied by a change in business philosophy, with organisations ready to accept the need for transformational change. Businesses are at an early stage in this process but it’s happening.
Road pricing is at an even earlier stage in the curve but I agree with the RAC on this: I think some sort of road pricing is inevitable – it won’t happen now (or for some time to come) but I do predict that drivers will come round to the idea, just in the way that businesses are about cloud computing. In 30 years it will be widely accepted and we’ll be wondering what the debate was about.
And of course, cloud computing itself will play a part in this process – the worlds are interconnected. One of the by-products of road pricing is that drivers will make fewer journeys: there will be home and remote working, made possible by cloud-enabled devices; people won’t drive 50 miles to a meeting but will connect via videoconferencing; employees will use collaboration software more frequently and costs will be managed more efficiently. If CIOs had the same attitude as drivers, we’d be racking up higher and higher compute costs, networking charges and over-priced licensing fees – the change couldn’t come quickly enough.