On the Cover
Events & Books
It pays to keep it simple
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 00:00
Written by Martin Czernowalow
I’ve always enjoyed the story of American versus Russian ingenuity, as it relates to the zero-gravity pen. The story goes that, as the space race in the 1960s started to heat up, the Yanks tasked NASA engineers to devise a pen that would work in a zero-gravity environment, as this is where the conventional ballpoint pen came up short.
NASA scientists got to work, designing a writing implement that could not only write in zero-gravity, but also on almost any surface, under water, upside down, and in ridiculously extreme temperatures.
A decade and some $12 billion later, US astronauts finally had a pen that performed in space.
All the while, the Russians used a pencil.
Unfortunately, this story is an urban legend, but it does well to illustrate how a simple solution is often much easier and cheaper to implement, but can be just as effective.
In a real-life context, the moral of the story has parallels to cellphones, driving and Cape Town. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Mother City has started confiscating the cellphones of drivers caught talking on their mobiles, without a headset or car kit, while behind the wheel. Ofenders are also fi ned and can collect their handsets after 24 hours.
While the effectiveness of these new measures will only become evident over time, the effort to clamp down on people driving and talking on their cellphones should be applauded, but, in reality, I’m afraid that city has invented its own zero-gravity pen.
For what gains this new law may yield, the admin behind it must be a nightmare, and effective implementation does not come without costs.
Additional laws mean additional policing, and Cape Town has set up an undercover “ghost squad” to catch offenders. And let’s face it, entrusting piles of cellphones to our cops for safekeeping is not exactly the brightest idea. When – not if – handsets start disappearing, the city will face some hefty claims.
The simple solution perhaps lies in readily available technology, that does not cost and arm and a leg, and is certainly not rocket science. Why not pass a law that mandates vehicle manufacturers to install Bluetooth car kits in all new cars, as standard safety equipment?
It’s really not that far-fetched if you consider that you cannot buy a car without seatbelts, headlights, or windscreen wipers. Why not add a car kit to the mix?
As for the cost, if built into the price of the car and spread over the finance period, the consumer would hardly feel it. And besides, no one complained when government added an emissions tax to all new vehicle prices, and it’s still unclear what good that does.
Of course, the biggest challenge would be the cars that are already on our roads, and that are not fi tted with Bluetooth kits – the vast majority, no doubt. But then retro-fi tting is not an insurmountable problem, especially if one considers government’s tenacity to squeeze taxpayers for that little bit extra. Problem solved.
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
| Not a member?
Business Best Practise
DiData offers R328m for Kenyan ISP
Cell C, NAPAfrica partner for better Internet
Durban 10111 calls lost
Reunert announces earnings drop
BCX enters human resources JV
Ex-DiData exec invests in Conduct Telecoms
BCX responds to ministerial tender spat
Gijima gets shareholder nod
MTN up for Myanmar licence
Wasps BCX responds powerless to stop spam
All rights reserved © Copyright by
Scroll To Top