Reindeer are semi-wild animals that roam freely on the vast wilderness of Lapland, the northernmost region of Scandinavia. They move in large groups, looking for food, escaping mosquitoes or adjusting to weather and seasons. Every reindeer, however, belongs to a herder, who needs to know where the animals are. That’s why the reindeer communicate their location to the owner using modern technology.
Reindeer are summoned up once a year for marking the youngest members of the herd to their owners, selecting the ones that won’t roam any longer, and for medical treatment.
During winter, herders bring supplemental food to the animals into the wilderness, so they have to know the location of the animals. Lynx, wolves and wolverines are a threat to the reindeer around the year. If anything happens, herders try to find the animals as quickly as possible.
Finnish company Actility has designed a device that can determine its position from GPS satellites and transmit it via a low-power network to a smartphone application.
The alpha female of the herd gets the device around her neck. The device doesn’t communicate via mobile phone network, because in the wilderness there may not be any network coverage, and the power consumption is relatively high. The device communicates via a special LoRaWAN network that is designed for low power and long distance applications. The data transmitted by the reindeer travels from the wilderness network to a mobile phone network, and ends up to the owner’s smartphone application.
Lapland covers a vast region north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia (you can download a travel guide to Lapland here). In many areas of Lapland, reindeer are an important source of income for the local people (the Sami, Finns, Swedes, Norwegians, and Russians). Growing tourism is another important way of making a living in the far north.
The video below shows the reindeer in their natural habitat and the device the leading reindeer is wearing.
Unesco, a United Nations organization, has an appealing initiative: Creative City. The organization wants to promote cooperation among cities that have introduced sustainable development as a key element into their strategies. In addition, if the city is supporting creative initiatives, it can be nominated into the Unesco Creative Cities Network. Literature is one of the seven creative themes that identify the network members.
The Network covers seven creative fields: crafts and folk arts, media arts, film, design, gastronomy, literature and music. Recently, in October 2017, 64 new cities joined the network of creative cities. The total count is 180 cities in 72 countries.
Unesco has listed seven cities as literature-specific. They are:
Bucheon (Republic of Korea)
Durban (South Africa)
Manchester (United Kingdom)
Québec City (Canada)
Four out of seven cities are in Europe, but other than that, there are not many similarities between them. Lillehammer and Utrecht are not big cities, whereas the others are more or less large and busy cities.
Edinburgh joined the network of creative cities already earlier with literature as its key art form. The video below shows some literature specific activities and places in Edinburgh, but it also shows how wonderful travel destination the city is.
Unesco defines the creative city concept as follows:
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 116 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.
New cities that recently joined the Creative Cities Network (other than literature-related) are the following:
Alba (Italy) – Gastronomy
Almaty (Kazakhstan) – Music
Amarante (Portugal) – Music
Auckland (New Zealand) – Music
Baguio City (Philippines) – Crafts and Folk Art
Barcelos (Portugal) – Crafts and Folk Art
Braga (Portugal) – Media Arts
Brasilia (Brazil) – Design
Bristol (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – Film
Brno (Czechia) – Music
Buenaventura (Colombia) – Gastronomy
Cairo (Egypt) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cape Town (South Africa) – Design
Carrara (Italy) – Crafts and Folk Art
Changsha (China) – Media Arts
Chennai (India) – Music
Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Crafts and Folk Art
Chordeleg (Ecuador) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cochabamba (Bolivia [Plurinational State of]) – Gastronomy
Daegu Metropolitan City (Republic of Korea) – Music
Dubai (United Arab Emirates) – Design
Frutillar (Chile) – Music
Gabrovo (Bulgaria) – Crafts and Folk Art
[City of] Greater Geelong (Australia) – Design
Guadalajara (Mexico) – Media Arts
Hatay Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey) – Gastronomy
Istanbul (Turkey) – Design
João Pessoa (Brazil) – Crafts and Folk Art
Kansas City (United States of America) – Music
Kolding (Denmark) – Design
Kortrijk (Belgium) – Design
Košice (Slovakia) – Media Arts
Kütahya (Turkey) – Crafts and Folk Art
Limoges (France) – Crafts and Folk Art
Łódź (Poland) – Film
Macao Special Administrative Region, China (Associate Member, UNESCO) – Gastronomy
Madaba (Jordan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Mexico City (Mexico) – Design
Morelia (Mexico) – Music
Norrköping (Sweden) – Music
Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) – Crafts and Folk Art
Panama City (Panama) – Gastronomy
Paraty (Brazil) – Gastronomy
Pesaro (Italy) – Music
Porto-Novo (Benin) – Crafts and Folk Art
Praia (Cabo Verde) – Music
Qingdao (China) – Film
San Antonio (United States of America) – Gastronomy
Seattle (United States of America) – Literature
Sheki (Azerbaijan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Sokodé (Togo) – Crafts and Folk Art
Terrassa (Spain) – Film
Tétouan (Morocco) – Crafts and Folk Art
Toronto (Canada) – Media Arts
Tunis (Tunisia) – Crafts and Folk Art
Wuhan (China) – Design
Yamagata City (Japan) – Film
Mongolia is a large, sparsely inhabited central Asian country where nomads still live in a traditional way on vast plains and foothills of mountains. The mineral rich country has large coal mines for its energy needs. Now, Mongolia has joined the Asia Super Grid electricity network in order to produce clean energy. Will ordinary Mongolians and nomads benefit from it?
Some nomads have moved to cities, some tend to stay in one place with their cattle, some move with seasons. In any case, they live outside the grid and if they want electricity, they have to produce it themselves – which they do, because they also want to watch television and charge their mobile phones.
All possessions of a herder family. Mongolia, Stephen Parliament.
Reuters reports that Mongolia has joined a large power transmission network established six years ago by China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Mongolia’s plan is to build wind power plants and connect them to this Asia Super Grid and export the generated energy.
While this is a great initiative for clean energy and balancing Mongolia’s state budget, it doesn’t bring much to the nomads. Small moveable solar power stations would support nomad lifestyle, but their prices tend to be high.
European Union has reached a crucial milestone in its effort to create a truly single market for its member countries. Telecommunication service providers whose networks we use when we make phone calls and connect to the Internet are not allowed to charge extra if you take your mobile phone to another EU country and let it connect to a local network. You can make phone calls and use Internet services for the same price as in your home EU country.
All EU citizens who travel are certainly happy about the decision that was inaugurated on June 15, 2017. If you have a prepaid SIM card, doublecheck your operator’s policy. For instance Vodafone still charges extra if you use your prepaid SIM card in another EU country, but it was the only one I could find. Others are following the new EU policy.
What if you arrive in Europe but don’t have a SIM card from a EU country? Usually, you would purchase a prepaid SIM card in the country where you landed, right? Well, that’s what you still can do. Here is the best part: choose wisely, and you can roam in EU countries with that SIM card and only pay the charges of the card’s home country. If you buy your prepaid SIM card in Germany, and travel to France and Italy, you consume your voice and data plan according to the German operator’s home plan.
The initial period for free roaming is two weeks. If you roam longer than two weeks (14 days), your operator has the right to contact you and perhaps apply extra charges.
So, the thing is to doublecheck that the prepaid SIM card operator doesn’t have extra charges for roaming, and you want to have a SIM that can be topped up via the Internet or via phone. In some countries, you must walk into the operator’s shop to top up, but that’s not going work if you travel.