Monday, 16 October 2017

Parallel Learning – UK Emergency Service Vehicles – Investment in Scaled Efficiencies for an Ever Broadening Multi-Task Spectrum

Part 2 : “Thinking Inside the Box”

The phrase “to think outside the box” has become the archetype of increasingly meaningless 'corporate-speak'.

Yet, from time immemorial - long before the invention of the wheel – the first incarnations of the box began with a folded large leaf and hollowed-out tree trunk so as to carry water and food and the creation of four walls and roof for shelter, thousands of years of incremental technological development leading to boxes as the case of a palm-held e-device, itself cyber-connected to more and more satellite relay boxes that orbit the earth.

We live in a world wherein 'the box' of whatever material, size and form derives its basic utility from a contained space put to functional use. Yet as the Zen Buddhists well recognised in their own teachings, it is not the shell itself that is the specifically useful component of the vessel, but the empty area within.

Beyond the plethora of increasingly sophisticated boxes that allowed civilisation to prosper materialistically, societies themselves must be well governed via speedy and efficient implementation of its codes of conduct, so as to operate as peacefully and productively as possible.

As described previously, very much 'part and parcel' of such an aim is the central role of the emergency services, spanning Police, Ambulance and Fire-Rescue. These public services around the world have evolved from basic volunteer roots (still so in many rural areas) through to civic-run highly structured and increasingly mechanised regimes.

Throughout each services history their development and effectiveness can be seen as either evolutionary or revolutionary.

An example of the evolutionary manner was the way that in some US regions the large, heavy and laborious horse-drawn steam-powered fire pump was at the turn of the 20th century fitted with a new motorised 'traction head'; a truly hybridised machine that on paper provided both cost-savings by retaining the rear wagon construction and pump, and much reduced long-life costs and comparative reliability after initial expensive outlay; its secondary function to encourage the popularisation of motor vehicles so as to clean-up urban areas from the dirt and disease of street-dropped manure.

An example of the revolutionary manner was by the mid 1970s seen with the introduction of very specialist large and capable fire appliances for rapidly changing airport and military-base applications. The size, material and fuel-type of then modern planes – led by the 'Jumbo Jet' – meant that standard appliances became increasingly impotent. Much increased needs in water capacity, foam capacity, spray-reach and response time meant that a new radically different generation of new dedicated tenders were required, to be known as 'Crash Tenders'.

Thus we see that given specific circumstances an evolutionary or revolutionary approach has been determined by commensurate authorities, but each has its own pros and cons: evolutionary typically cost-related, revolutionary typically task-related.

What is required is the ability to merge both 'evolutionary cost efficiency' and 'revolutionary task efficiency'.

Everyday Observation -

“Scaled Modularisation”

From simple observation of the world around us, investment-auto-motives believes it sees opportunities for, and multiple gains to be had, from a “box modularisation” approach for what have become ever more broadening remit (yet also task-tailored) Police, Ambulance and Fire-Rescue vehicles.

Modularisation has been with us for thousands of years, as seen from the building of the Egyptian pyramids through to the scaled basis farming which underpinned Britain's 'Enclosure Act' in the 18th century.

Critically it sat at the heart of 20th century industrial age, from the layout and 'cabinetisation'of the electro-mechanics of early automated telephone call-relay sub-stations, to its focus in 'Modernist Design' led by the Bauhaus, to commercial and domestic shelving units, to kitchen cabinets, to the open-plan modular office, right through to 'modularised sub-systems' in car platform design, so allowing greater cross-vehicle type applications and so much reduced unit costs.

Yet, whilst very well exemplified by the tea-carrying crates of the 18th century for better arrangement of a tea-clipper's ship's hold, and seen again in most things mass-manufactured, such as shoes, the nadir of modularisation – indeed 'adaptive modularisation' - came with the creation of the Multi-Modal Transport Container in the mid to late 1950s that eradicated the bottle-necks between sea, rail and road transportation.

Thus intelligently designed Prime and Sub-System Commonality sits at the centre of cost, efficiency and effectiveness.

In the automotive world modularisation has been periodically in vogue since the Model T Ford given its multi-functionality, critical to the deployment of 'carry-over' platform engineering and the increased use of 'module sets' in chassis and electrical engineering, and perhaps most visible to the consumer when the likes of Rover and FIAT used a modular instrument binnacle respectively in the 1970s on SD1 and 1980s on Panda models in relation to RHD and LHD variants.

Thus is used as a CapEx reduction ploy on such relative small in-vehicle parts, ultimately the same philosophy's adoption at a whole vehicle level, would provide for a prosaically far more important 'mix and match' / “plug and play” system used upon the Emergency Vehicle vans fleet.

So providing a true leap-forward regards the big-picture of logistics rationalisation

At this critical juncture, with the UK still much affected by governmental spending constraints, and the need to fundamentally re-organise and rationalise the public sector over the long-term, it now that the methods of the Emergency Services should be holistically reconsidered.

Thus, instead of having to invariably order a specific body-type on a specific wheelbase from a specialist 'body-building' firm – so wedding forever body on frame/mechanicals - the fleet would consist of independent 'rolling chassis' (with possibly extendible and retractable wheelbase) and independent body structure, conjoined with appropriately standardised mechanical and electrical connectors.

Ultimately, in the medium-sized van segment – obviously the central basis for such a scheme - a designed suite of conventionally purchased ('COTS') “Mobile Platforms” and specifically task-tailored “Modular Bodies”; attached as necessary.

The Emergency Services' Budget Challenge -

Although ingrained in the citizen's consciousness, the very brevity of their titles do a disservice to appreciating the spectrum of tasks undertaken.

As societies develop to become ever more humanitarian, sophisticated and diverse, so these services inevitably become increasingly more complex. This so in terms of social and commercial activities, public and specific regulations, improved and new technologies etc. Numerous PESTEL influences which put ever greater demands upon the everyday operations of each emergency service.

Central government and local operational budgets inevitably swell and diminish over time, themselves directly affected by the broad economic cycles of the national economy. With this fluctuation senior-level decision-making likewise becomes concomitantly more complex.

Which areas must be expanded so requiring new technical and manpower investment? Which areas can remain effectively static? Which may be reduced?

An overtly simplistic observation, but unlike in the corporate field, where the outcome is that of increased profitability, stagnation, or bottom-line losses, these services directly impact upon the population, at a group and personal levels, and even indirectly and so sub-consciously, in turn determining individual and social habits.

As has been experienced with negative social effects, the impact of the 'Great Recession' has been felt across all western nations, now also similarly seen since 2012 or so in the once booming EM countries.

The desired outcome of Quantitative Easing did indeed have the desired effects of systemic financial re-stabilisation, and new stimulus within the nation's banking sector - albeit with substantial flows of such QE funds actually invested abroad by proprietary trading banks even with rebuilt Chinese Walls between Retail and Investment - the fact is that at governmental level the UK has been forced to endure prolonged “Austerity Budgeting”, as unpopular but seemingly necessary major cut-backs in government expenditure seek to 're-balancing the books'.

The Credit Boom and Bust of the 'Social Good' -

Here it should be noted that during the mid 1990s to mid 2000s (the boom years), the various portions of the Public Sector – excluding the Emergency Services – seemingly grew in bureaucracy far beyond a socially useful level. This expansion of the public sector, using debt, to essentially create a vast array of 'non-jobs' so as to keep the housing and consumer economies growing. When Britain should have been developing ever more advanced production and services internally and attracting FDI for notionally called 'post-industrial' areas to then be re-exported, it instead relied upon short-termist gains, much of this based upon the internalised holy-grail of management consultants and 'corporate speak' to equate to the dynamic corporate world; yet in reality adding little fundamental true value to most citizen's everyday experiences in terms of positive social good.

The 'snap-back' of such a blinkered approach toward real value is that the few truly useful 'social services' with profits to be had will be taken-up by private enterprise at lower cost (such as satiating the mobility needs of comparitively well-off OAP's), whilst other demographic groups experience “service retraction” and so even greater socio-economic exclusion.

Herein, the monies of the newly expanded payroll budget for state-worker's increased salaries would have better served society by helping those – often socially invisible because of their inability to interact – in most dire need.

The Corresponding Social Cost -

So the social cost of the now induced and seemingly everlasting “Austerity Budgeting” has been huge. From the single person relying upon very scant benefits, to whole families now hit hard by the loss of those previous parental 'non-jobs', to the multi-aspect external consequences of a 'broken society'; which the Police, Ambulance and Fire-Rescue must deal with, and best 'patch-up' in the moment.

This ranges from the breakdown of family and inter-personal relationships because of scant or unwisely spent monies, such stresses leading to to an increase in alcohol and substance abuse, and so increasingly erratic and unthinking behaviour. Causing often unintentional but very destructive situations. Such outcomes appear across a vast field of human activities: from severe motoring accidents causing death or disability, through to the development of a 'them and us' mentality amongst tribal-like social groups (including middle-class adults aswell as street gangs) to the inevitable effects upon children, developing poor playground and classroom behaviour, which eventually results in the societal dilemma of the disaffected teenager and so disaffected adult.

Thus it is sadly paradoxical that during such periods when the emergency services are called upon the most, that they themselves have proportionately reduced resources by which to fulfil their expanded roles.

Budget Reality vs Social Expectations -

Unfortunately within advanced nations, the very economic success over the preceding 150 years which underpinned creation of the modern emergency services – with budgetary peaks in the 1950s/60s and 1980s/90s – has perhaps led to an over-expectation of what can now be achieved without internal implementation reforms of varying magnitude.

This high expectation perhaps especially so the attitude amongst older members of both the emergency services and the public at large, those who have themselves enjoyed the heyday periods when society was calmer and budgets proportionately bigger.

Such reforms, understandably resisted by those at the coal-face, have been under-way for some time, mostly in more subtle, less immediately visible 'back-office' and operational ways – so affecting civilian staffing capabilities as much as the prime concern of numbers of 'beat officers' and core staff numbers.

Over a decade ago the London and York Fire Brigades themselves sought to reduce costs by leasing its Fire Tenders from an external private equity backed supplier called AssetCo. What (on the surface) appears either bad management or more likely a case of deliberate over-leverage to allow for personal rewarded 'financial engineering'. The apparent deliberate 'run-down' of service support to the London Fire Brigade meant as the firm faltered caused very real problems for the LFEPA (the Brigades Planning Authority) and resulted the AssetCo Premier division's liquidation in Novermber 2012, thereafter sold to the military and civil services group Babcock International for a nominal fee.

This case highlights the manner in which some Municipalities, keen to off-load budget responsibilities for such services – can be drawn by the 'easy money' of Private Equity deals whilst the services themselves (and the public) suffer the consequences of value-extraction ploys.

Elsewhere, even with a firm negotiation stance by locally independent vehicle procurement managers, seeking to maximise budget stretch by offering their own 'tenders for contract' to the manufacturers and body-builders, it is noted that the car-parc age of many Police, Ambulance and Fire vehicles inevitably increased as internal assets were sweated ever harder.

Having done so to cut costs, the new crop of replacement vehicles, from tactical-response Police BMWs to multi-role Vauxhall estates to NHS 'quick response' MPVs, will have no doubt been procured with sizeable discounts, especially after 2008.

But herein procurement is typically undertaken on a regional/county basis often using local dealerships (though price compared to other non-regional dealers to ensure reduced prices).

However, the fact remains that given the relatively small number of model specific vehicles needed at the local level, such discounts on smallish volumes will inevitably be less than if cooperatively bought with other regions to boost the volumes purchased.

As such, there is a strong argument for inter-regional and cross-service collaboration when replacing vehicles or indeed adding new.

Budget Reality vs Technologically Improved Practice -

Such cost-saving efforts across the board by the Emergency Services as seen to date have undoubtedly had a positive effect on CapEx and Operational cashflow drain; obviously relating to the overhead costs and unit-based costs (from head-count to fleet-count)as recognised in everyday standard practice.

Given central government budget allowances and targets, Police Commissioners, NHS Transport CEOs and Fire-Rescue Heads together with their various supporting departmental managers, have sought to cut as “far back to the bone” as they dare.

Whilst simultaneously trying to maintain visible levels of law and order, medical response and other categories of emergency response, from burned-out stolen cars to the proverbial 'cat up a tree'. Whilst also knowing that the criminal element sees such cut-backs and response times as manna from heaven, recognising that response times, effectiveness and outcome may inevitably suffer and so allow greater opportunity for crime.

Thus any alteration of conventional practices because of budgetary expansion or contraction simply alters the size of the 'traditional pie', which inevitably result in consequential acclaim or criticism as political, union and public perception notes the changes made - usually pertaining to the number of publicly seen 'beat officers', police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

To combat this and seek scaled efficiencies some regions have created the role of Cross-Service Commissioners, so as to merge commonalities.

The role of such men and women is to sure 'visioneer' the strategic and operational futures of both their region and importantly the complete UK Emergency Services network.

One of the few very useful reality TV series have been those following the everyday workings of a local police constabulary or unit. Whilst filmed in a somewhat sensationalist manner, it does allow for that large portion of viewing public removed from such, to far better understand at least some of what actually goes on underneath the veneer of a seemingly 'civilised' society.

These TV shows have illustrated how various technology have allowed for rationalised and so improved law enforcement, ranging from at the lowest end the use of a simple 'zip-tie' as restraining instrument to the tyre-shredding 'stinger' to much improved communications to heat-sensing helicopter cameras.

Similarly the modern ambulance is a far cry from the stretcher shuttle of decades ago, today operating as a minuscule medical-centre on wheels, in which paramedics can assess far more than the vital signs of life, and so provide a useful briefing to the staff and doctors upon arrival at a hospital.

Indeed it is often able to offer the appropriate medical aid on the spot, so negating the need to even travel to hospital which itself takes up far more resources.

And the Fire Brigade long ago took on far broader responsibilities in the areas of urban, rural and highway rescue; the latter most prolific. The implements used for cutting occupants from the body-shells of crashed vehicles – inflatable airbags to upright overturned or precarious vehicles through to the sensitive air-controlled pincer cutters which act as 'tin-openers' - have become ever more sophisticated through experience, research and development by specialist supplier companies.

Technological applications and their advancements, whether low-cost or high-cost, have assisted the Emergency Services almost immeasurably as their multi-various fleet vehicles and trained personnel undertake ever more socially assistive responsibilities and overall productivity increases.

Yesteryear was about operational centralisation, best seen by the example of a large 1960s General Hospital. It has to deal with everything from the results of self-inflicted stupidity (eg Johnny's head stuck in a saucepan), through to highly emotive 'life or death' situations.

Today and tomorrow seemingly continues to see the decentralisation of operations, again the hospital example proving most useful, seeing far more specialist centres set-up to deal with important cases, the 'accident and emergency' department dedicated to important tasks rather than having to deal with facile cases, and the less serious being dealt with in situ.

This trend of decentralisation, assisted by technological progress, means that the very shape of the Emergency Service fleet looks to continually evolve.

Long-Termism over Short-Sighteness -

But critically it must evolve along truly long-term rational lines and not simply in a short-termist reactionary manner to the immediate 'commercial imperative'.

The leadership committees of the Emergency Services together with government ministers should explore into how the very fundamentals of conventional practice could and should be intelligently and radically altered so as to provide more for less.

Both in terms of direct and in-direct expense and the effectiveness of functional service implementation.

Time to Think Afresh -

Recognising how a system might be improved through both cost-saving and performance improvement is the raison d'etre of management science. And it is typically only at times of crisis, or those of fundamentally changed conditions, that any organisation seeks to adopt meaningful change.

With regard to the Public Sector we have seen how the seemingly more adroit eye of private enterprise has sought to raise efficiencies and cost savings.

But alas, we have also seen how overtly commercial (and indeed personal-reward) parent company pressures can severely undermine any one Service; the AssetCo experience will long live with seniors of the London Fire Brigade.

The UK's utilities (telecoms, water, electricity) were privatised long ago, with the NHS currently under-going a slow process of re-organisation and rationalisation from Trusts to next generation entities through Trust consolidation or new entity introductions – with good, mediocre and some reportedly bad results.

Public Sector services plainly originated from the desire to improve society, with the utilitarian edict of “the greatest gain for the greatest number”. And so whilst rightly seeking the reduction of waste, government must also ensure that the tide of gradual part and full privatisation should be properly weighed against the likelihood of “profits before people”.

And this is where a nation-based long-term planning schema for Emergency Service vehicles, by an independent body, needs to be asserted, so as to span much from high volume procurement to future-facing powerful Research and Development.

Herein the roles and multi-various functionalities of the Emergency Services is a hot topic for debate.

Unlike the wholly dedicated building infrastructure required, from hospitals to police stations to fire-rescue training facilities, the issue of transportation (and its increasingly task specialisation) looks to be prime for creative review, perceived – pun intended - from a very high altitude “helicopter viewpoint”.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Parallel Learning - UK Emergency Service Vehicles - Investment in Scaled Efficiencies for an Ever Broadening Multi-Task Spectrum - Part 1

[NB. Before continuing it must be stated that given the present Political Party Conference season, investment-auto-motives continues to remain resolutely apolitical.

Appalled by the left's seemingly successful deliberate ploy to ferment identity politics through enormous cultural capital so as to actually further fragment society, then to apparently serve the unified marginalised social interests of all such segments so as to gain a combined  en mass politicalised power.

Similarly dismayed by the still apparent smug hypocrisy of the typically comfortably off and highly nepotistic right, which praises the advantages of an only slightly reformed neo-classical economics model, still not properly safeguarded against a current and future repeat of high-finance abuse.

Common-sense centricism in society and economics - to nurture vital stability - still has yet to come into being, but is desperately needed asap].

To continue with this now very prescient web-log....

“Back to Basics” to Re-Configure Tomorrow.

The Emergency Services that are taken as common-place in UK society are in historical terms only a relatively recently created infrastructure; evolved along with the expansion of civic power and pride from essentially the very start of the 19th century onwards as a social dividend from the results of industrialisation, urbanisation and social stability.

[NB Prior to this evolution of the Municipality in what was largely a feudal agrarian system no professionalised infrastructure existed, much left to the responsibilities of 'squires' and local 'common-folk' with very differing requirements, outlooks and capabilities, and little or no connection to the upper olde county heirachy. The format being 'watchmen' and 'constables''].

Today's modern services and their organigram structures began not in London, but in Scotland's Glasgow in 1800 with a Parliamentary Act.

Police -

This with the formation a central and professionalised police force to deal with the problems of a burgeoning port (drunkeness, theft, prostitution etc); though operating largely on a part-time reactive basis. It was 29 years later that Robert Peel, in situ as Home Secretary, would create London's Metropolitan Police.

This structure thereafter copied throughout the country on a county and borough basis in the following two decades to create a nationwide standing by the mid 1850s. The Peelian qoute that “the police are the public and the public the police”. Vitally to extinguish the public's previous fearwith the power based relationship - open to both abuse, blackmail and bribery – the 'Met' was based from first principles of cooperation and trust nurtured from a meaningful selection process for the right character, so providing the approval, respect and affection of the public : “policing by consent”.

This would thereafter prove the functioning basis for all territorial, nationwide and specialist polices services, from 'the Met' to 'Transport Police' to Specialist Police Units (eg Diplomatic Unit). Each of these with a plethora of focused responsibilities, from Community sections to Criminal Investigation Departments to road-centric 'Traffic'.
Quite obviously these demand numerous technical enablers, equipment ranging from C3/4 IT for Databases to a wide spectrum of vehicles, from pedal cycles to rapid response motorcycles and cars to a diverse range of task specific vans to the helicopters of cross-services 'Air Support'

[NB the crux of this weblog is to focus upon motorised ground vehicles, specifically vans but also with basic thoughts on cars and motorcycles].

Ambulance -

The seeds of today's NHS service was through the private initiative of London's Metropolitan Asylums Board with its creation of six ambulance stations strategically positioned around the capital city. At the time almost all of London was within a three mile reach of one of the six locations. The first motorised vehicle was introduced in 1904 for a single occupant patient. Capacity and capability grew as suitable commercial vehicles became available, so allowing for greater hospitals income and thus re-investment in growing fleet.

In 1930 it was regulated that local county councils would take on strategic and administrative responsibilities. Additionally, in the late inter-war period, the government created the Civil Defence Service with its own separate national (not local) ambulance fleet. The formation of the NHS in 1948 combined the efficacy of both the locally run and nationally run fleets made available to anyone in need under the auspices of the new welfare state. But things were still administratively fragmented for many parts of the UK, with London's own ambulance authority arriving nearly twenty years later in 1965, after enveloping nine different services. In 1996 the service became the remit of various regional hospital trusts.

The Hospital Trust's own 'business models' have evolved to suit changing society, and whereas ambulance transport was once defined as 'life threatening' or major issue transit to hospital the types of cases and needs have themselves become broad, notably because of an ageing population and the growing 'ferry transport' needs between treatment centres. Different locational and treatment situations have been better catered for with a range of responder vehicles. So whilst the typical ambulance is still that of the Standard Emergency Unit, other vehicles which have come into being include: Quick Response Unit (car, motorcycle or bicycle), Patient Transport Unit, Specialist 'Off-Highway' Unit (4x4 or ATV), 'Medevac' Helicopter.

The Standard Emergency Unit is the typically understood ambulance and is mostly in medium-sized van form, as had been the case since the establishment of the NHS in 1948 and massively strengthened in the 1950s, and the van used because of overall internal volumetric size, good road conditions and the desire from early NHS days to best equip the vehicle.

[NB Internationally depending on national procurement policy to support national companies, road surfaces or local budget availability beyond vans ambulances also span light trucks, medium trucks and high roof, long tail converted estate cars]

The government's expansion of the health industry as a past, current and future strong growth economic sector – long before since depicted in the Industrial Strategy Boards conclusions - inevitably led to the NHS's own in-house drive toward departmental expansion and multi-aspect service provision and improvement.

Fire and Rescue -

Today's 'Fire and Rescue Service' likewise evolved from similar localised requirements, and whilst increasingly professionalised in the latter half of the 19th century on a borough basis, did not actually become legislated and so empowered until a century after the Police.

Formed on a nationwide basis in 1941, so as to quickly relay best practice and shared capabilities after 'the Blitz' for all cities and towns. This started and maintained with the Acts between 1938 and 1959 and the regionally centric 1999 issuance for Greater London., Thereafter with new legislation in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Governmental responsibility has shifted over time from the Civil Defence Service to Communities and Local Government, which oversees what is effectively still a county and city based system, itself apportioned as either 'Command', 'Area', 'Division', 'Borough' depending upon scale and practice, with over time increasing administration undertaken by Local Authorities.

Vitally, whilst the public only really sees FRS's persona as fire tenders / appliances / trucks on the street, the responsibilities of the historical fire services has extended into the fire certification of buildings; this issue now back under the spotlight with the apparent change and 'degredation' of responsibilities and standards, as privately run authorised agencies replaced the reach of the regional FRS itself.

In 2002 a Review was undertaken by Sir George Bain with intention of modernising the service via “recommendations on the future organisation and management”, leading to an Act on 2004. The Bain Report did much to reorientate and reform including manpower, budget and responsibility alterations (given criticism about the costs of keeping a typically dormant or in-training retinue of people and equipment, and the proclivaty of firemen to also have other second jobs given generous on-off shift schedules). However, one other key aspect of the Report concerned “Emergency Preparedness” of the service with focus upon natural and man-made issues from flooding to terrorism (including chemical, biological and nuclear threats).
This then extended the remit of the FRS to create a 'readiness' into fields previously concentrated within the military - under the scantily termed 'Fire Resiliance' programme – but was also seemingly adequately provided for with extensive new equipment and vehicles.

The first of these efforts included the 'New Dimensions' programme within which three new types of vehicle were provided: an Incident Response Vehicle, a Detection/Identification/Monitoring Vehicle and critically the first modern example of an interchangable and so task specific 'Carry-Pod' transported by a standard a 'Prime Mover' (Medium Truck) Vehicle; itself adopted from decades of Military use by American, British and NATO forces. The two types of 'Pods' were for Search and Rescue command co-ordination and as a water tanker.

The programme ran from 2004 until 2016 when the vehicles were decommissioned, presumably because of a mix of increased substitutional capabilities elsewhere, retracted project funding and a likelihood that the vehicles were only rarely used by individual FRS groups, if indeed at all by some.

Nonetheless, the instigation of the 'Prime Mover' and 'Carry Pod' approach was usefully revolutionary in its innate philosophy.

[NB Indeed instead of retracting the idea, the Brigades should have been given the remit of suggesting more than the two overtly very basic (and themselves easily substituted) 'Pods' provided.
The programme should have been implemented not 'top-down' as a seeming political exercise merged with seeming operational enhancement, but the start of a 'bottom-up' (user-incorporated) approach to innately enhanced operational flexibility and improved overall capability].

Summary -

The evolution of the UK's Emergency Services has by natural default been in reaction to the societal needs of the day, ranging across a massively diverse – and seemingly growing - spectrum of activities.

Unfortunately it seems that is reactionary politics that drives change, whether that be service agglomeration as seen with the copy+ of 'The Peelers' the fire-fighting regimes of The Blitz to a new 21st century 'Readiness' against potential Terrorism. All within the opportunities and confines of general operational budget expansion when national coffers allow, and conversely, budget retraction when 'austerity' prevails.

However, the everyday disjuncture within the socio-economic realm means that typically the greatest social need and so operational services span will come during periods of economic retraction such as post '9/11' and ever since the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Unfortunately history illustrates that the Emergency Services themselves suffer from a lack of proper long-term planning, with seemingly instances of forced operational change instigated not by foresightedness, but by political and budget expediency and problematic PFI; the 'lend-lease-lend' practice of London's and Lincoln's Fire Brigade's appliances via the failed company AssetCo one obvious instance.

What is required is proper centralised long-term planning to eradicate the inefficiencies of the Emergency Services systems far beyond the facets of IT integration, and toward a truly rationalised basis underpinned by a 'First Principles Design' approach that identifies the strategic and operational aspects served by product and service Commonality vs Co-Functionality (matrix) vs Specialisation.

With a recognition of the need for efficient multi-tasking the 'New Dimensions' project provided a small glimpse of an approach of what should have led to a new philosophical age regards general equipment, and very specifically fleet vehicle, Purchasing policies.

One of long-termism with greatly amortised capital expenditure in vehicles that allows both improved productivity from a human resources perspective and improved upfront and overall vehicle life-cycle benefits vs costs.

Both areas much aided by expanding and exploiting the Emergency Services' Research and Development ties with the automotive and specialist engineering arenas, and to strengthen ties with Military and alternative Commercial sources to seek-out new-era product design approaches that transform the all round quality of any 'COTS' (commercial off the shelf / factory) purchased vehicles, also transform the time/quality/cost vagueries of the ad-hoc and piecemeal body on frame UK coach-building sector, and possibly create a new industrial and automotive sub-sector for product and services export in a post-Brexit world.

Long term operational success and efficacious budget management will rely upon :

- Scale Efficiencies in collective purchasing, product designs and operations
- Standardisation of vehicle architectures, powertrains and on-board Ops systems
- Modularisation of vehicle architectures and fitments/equipment
- Expansion of 'Matrix' capabilities for 'First Responders'
- Expansion of 'Core' capabilities of Specialist Units
- Redesignation of nationwide responsibilities to new central organisation
- Creation of substantive R+D agency to liaise with industrial sectors and firms.

It has been “Considered Re-Configuration” that has slowly evolved the Police, Ambulance  and Fire-Rescue Services, but usually done after watershed events.

Now much effort should be put into designing the 'Intelligently Simple' Public Service Infrastructure of tomorrow.

[NB And for the sake of clarity in doing so, the use of plain and proper English instead of the tiresome and prolific use of  'management speak' and jargon].

Monday, 18 September 2017

Parallel Learning – UK Emergency Services – Investment in Scaled-Efficiencies for an Ever Broadening Multi-Task Spectrum.

Previously, mention of today's 'spiritual successors' to the Holden Sandman within slowly revitalising EM regions, was to have been the segue return to the ongoing topic of Brazil's economic and automotive future.

However, before doing so, following the previous Barcelona attack, the recent Parson's Green Tube-Line attack (and subsequent raised terror alert) here in the UK, indicates that 'the terror threat' and incidents will seemingly inevitably continue.

That threat perhaps even arising from not just from the small number of western 'jihadists', but also potentially also from a newly stirred friction (and possible faction) within Northern Ireland, resulting from the ideological partisanship following the political horse-trading after the UK electiion to create a substantive government
Plus of course concerns about other Grenfell Tower like kinds of disasters, whereby poor infrastructure leads to high loss of life.

[NB the current criticism of the police helicopter's presence at Grenfell Tower, but failing to operate as a rescue device, is unjust, given its primary role as observation tool. Furthermore its use as a rescue vehicle could have led to further problems, from pilot capability, to spatial clearances , to smoke visibility issues, to panic overloading of the craft].

Hence as Britain continues through is slow economic revitalisation – Budget Austerity vs Slow Trickle-Down Investment - it is perhaps timely that the vital matter of Emergency Service Response Capabilities be considered across the long-term of the next 20 to 30 years.

Over the past 5 years or so all the Emergency Services have experienced problematic cuts in respective annual and extra-ordinary budgets, having a major affect on the proactive and reactive capabilities of the Police, Ambulance and Fire/Rescue services, from manpower numbers to equipment servicing to the heavy capex issue of equipment and facilities replacement.

All the while the lingering devastating societal impact of the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis has had to be absorbed by the Emergency Services – from unemployment and working-poor induced drunkenness and drug addiction, to money related spousal domestic friction (sometimes deliberately created for ultimate financial gain) to the growth of illegitimate vehicle, house and personal injury insurance claims, to the sadly all too concerning matter of real accidents resulting from stress/mindlessness and the increased instances of self-harm and suicide – means that just as society's dynamics would necessitate a rise in Police, Ambulance and Fire/Rescue agendas, these vital services have undergone major budget cuts.

That reality and the raised real terror threat has necessarily required the vital assistance of the British Army, operating in low-level para-military guise.

This clash of Raised Societal Response Needs versus Declined Budget Sizes appears to be endemic to the long-term picture as the reduced prowess of the 're-sized State' muddles through the demands of a 're-shaped Britain'.

As such it is time that government and industry undertake “New Era Strategic Thinking” about how exactly to make the availability of far lesser financial resources stretch far further – with true intelligence and implementation acumen - to best satiate that myriad of seemingly crystallised modern societal issues.

Over the coming weeks, investment-auto-motives seeks to illustrate how, starting from first principles of in-service vehicles, such new-era thinking might evolve.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The 2017 Summer Escape – Dreaming of the Sandman

The recent sad events in Barcelona have cast shadows over vans and cars.

These long endemic societal enablers that mobilised millions and built countries, now momentarily viewed as social disablers when deployed maliciously.

But such events as a direct impact upon the average individual are still extremely improbable.

And as such vans and cars must continue to be recognised as the near miracles of mobility that they actually represent, and not as potential weapons against the public by a miniscule number of antagonists.

(NB recognise the immeasurable social relief brought about every day thanks to the motorised capabilities of the emergency services).

So, as we enter the 'back-end' of summer what better depiction of the holiday spirit and the joy of FUNctional mobility than the iconic 1970s Australian Holden Sandman.

This car-derived ute and van 'hybrid' served what was then still an up and coming nation, used as both daily work-horses and weekend/holiday retreat mechanisms.

So helping to take the nation itself from a global 'backwater' toward its full potential of economic maturity and a global cornerstone.

The spirit of this utility-van now seen elsewhere across the globe, by GM, VW, FIAT and others, from Brazil to South Africa to SE Asia and far beyond - even as 'proper pickups' take increased market share - and wherein some of tomorrow's generations will inevitably be conceived thanks to many people's own 'highway holidays' to the coast and their own experience of a 'summer of love'.

In need of its own escape, the investment-auto-motives weblog returns in mid September.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Intermission - Imparting Automotive Passion that Propels Economic Activity (Part 2) - Jay Leno...the Auto-Patron

Though obviously well known in the US as host of the legendary 'Tonight Show' on NBC, James Douglas Muir Leno has become almost legendary in his own life-time amongst car enthusiasts because of his personal and monetary devotion to vehicles 'en mass'.

No matter in which country a 'petrol-head' resides, thanks to the reach of the internet many millions are now wholly aware of the efforts of this man to both concentrate the historical 'intellectual wealth' of the auto-industry, and also participate in the continued evolution of this broad sphere; done so via the youtube and latterly TV based 'Jay Leno's Garage'.

Born of Italian-Scottish parentage in New Rochelle, NY State, (its name derived from French New World settlers) his formative years were spent in Andover, Massachusetts, amongst the 'New England' states (with numerous English derived place-names).

So paradoxically whilst although obviously 'All-American', it was inevitable that growing-up with the diverse and manifold 'old countries' influences of the Atlantic North East undoubtedly influenced Leno's understanding and outlook from a young age; providing historical and cultural breadth, leading to 'avenues of appreciation' that would be latterly become exemplified in his immense car collection.

Moreover, 'New England' itself provided a rich seam of multi-layered contextual interest, since it was the heartland of America's own industrial revolution from the 1770s onward This involved many production ('manufactory') centres, from textiles to the beginnings of precision manufacturing in armaments - which of course together with the systemisation of the butchery trade directly influenced Henry Ford's business model for the Model T in Detroit (another town with French origins).

Interestingly, because of the historical social dynamic 'New England' had always been a divergent mix; of the 'first-class', 'third-class' and incoming 'second class'. The long-rooted wealthy old-families maintained a virtual stranglehold of the 'high-brow' in land-ownership, education, politics, finance, industry and trade, etc, thus entrenched as the 'first-class' elite. Whilst the majority were effectively agriculturally and factory tied 'third class' whites, who had left Ireland and Scotland during the famine and earlier land clearances.

However, the regional demographic shifted when second generation, American born Irish, Italians and Poles moved out from New York and into New England in search of a better life, new opportunities and to form their own futures as entrepreneurs.

Leno's father was one of those men who moved-out of a grimy, heavily tribal and corrupt/criminal New York for the ideal of open air, broader horizons and golden summers for a future family. For much of the early to mid 20th century, it was this 'imported dynamism' of the entrepreneurial and hard-working 'immigrant classes' that helped propel New England's economy.

Although the region experienced the beginnings of industrial decline after WW2 in lower value sectors, thus seeing the decline of the working and lower middle classes, at least the counter-force existence of 'MIT' meant that the region enjoyed a concerted effort to create new high-level industries and re-generate mid-level sectors, aswell as providing academically led 'thought leadership' for the broader USA.

This broad context of mixed peoples, historic internationalism, industrial-commercial development and a sense of 'futurism' appears to have “cast the die” for the substrate of Jay Leno's interests and character, beneath the comedic surface.

Very telling is his story about his father, a man who when he had the opportunity to buy a new car took-up the American Dream by purchasing one of the biggest cars ever made: an early 1970s Chevy Station Wagon; since size was considered a determinate of success. So although Jay Leno himself is third generation American-Italian, and thus typically more 'fine-tuned' to societal nuance, this perfectly scripted sociological episode of family history, even at the time, was undoubtedly recognised for what it was, even before his father's open and honest explanation about self-rewarding symbolism.

Hence Leno's fascination for all divergent facets of the world about him, and specifically his broad social and inter-personal observations and analysis, which provided the basis and material for his later stand-up comedy and talk-show careers.

And similarly appreciation for the wide spectrum of cultural variety and nuance importantly has also shaped his appreciation for the world's widely diverse, eclectic automotive history, its own origins in very different socio-economic cultures and the aligned resultant technical solutions and outcomes.

[NB Many examples exist but two such brand-specific examples being:

1. the post-war governmental policies and corporate ambitions of France, illustrated by with the world of difference between Citroen's rudimentary Deux Cheveaux of 1948 and its highly sophisticated DS19 of 1955.
2. the American Nash model fitted-out for travelling salemen (to avoid hotel/motel costs) with fully reclining 'bed' seating, and provision of the first true in-car air-conditioning unit created by its Kelvinator home and business refrigeration division].

But where and how did his fascination begin?

It seems that first exposure to such socio-industrial learning came when the young Leno worked as a Saturday Boy at a local (inevitably 'high-end') European-imported car dealership, seemingly dedicated to: Mercedes, Volvo, SAAB, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Citroen and Jaguar. These cars so beloved by the real and aspirant 'Ivy League' set, as well depicted by Dustin Hoffman's Alfa-Romeo Duetto in the film 'The Graduate'. As a Saturday job, this was relative privilege, since most of his counterparts in auto-dealerships and repair shops were limited to the everyday products of Detroit's Big Three.

As such there would have been stories about the customers who bought and owned the incoming cars, themselves amongst both the upper echelon elite and the then small but increasing coterie of New England liberals (teachers, professors, PhD researchers, pyschologists etc). Presumably for a lower middle-class young man questions would abound: “who were they?”, “what they did they do?”, and “how important were they”. Inevitably then an 'in the field' study of a thin but rich slice of a rarefied auto-culture.

His natural curiosity for 'conceptual deconstruction' of the world around him is illustrated by his college course choice in Speech Therapy, this choice presumably influenced by his own formative problems in reading and writing (self stated as dyslexic). But that mindset – very probably together with the need to 'battle harder' in the world to overcome the limitation of dyslexia, and the inevitable social slights against Italians – provided the same 'deconstructive' investigative perspective to his growing fascination of automobiles, and thereafter the broader auto-industry.

The result of those early years of cars and people, and nigh on fifty years as a comedy-driven social deconstructionist has resulted in the public offering of Jay Leno's Garage.

A series whereby, although some conversational 'fall-back' repetition is inevitable so as to inject life into the subject, he is seemingly able to remember the minutia of detail about not only his own plethora of vehicles, but because of absorbed broad interest, also regards his guest's vehicles. This because whilst separate from the hands on work of vehicle restoration (fulfilling other 'celebrity' roles and admittedly not adept at mechanics, bodywork or electricals) he takes great interest in the detail of the repair and renovation works; as seen when describing the schedule of works for each of his own and other restoration projects, from even years ago.

No doubt this skill has grown from the need for contextual and specific recall from the early days of comedy performances (the stand-up routine plus theatre location/dates), and thereafter in TV the need to inevitably speed-read his guests' PR resum├ęs or details of their latest film, TV series, achievements etc, to ensure the on-screen conversation naturally flowed.

[NB Observation, lateral thinking and cross-contextualisation, much else....and timing....have been the cornerstones of intelligent comedy for decades, which given direct injection into people's minds has thus influenced western and now global society's humoristic speech formulae. In most circumstances humour provides 'social glue' and enables the ability to become a 'people person', which Leno has seemingly genuinely thrived upon.

(Though any decent person should always be aware of the disingenuous social 'schmoozers' who simply wish to make social connections to use others abilities or resources to their own advantage, this trend an unfortunate pandemic in the modern societal construct)].

In past episodes of 'JLG' it was noticeable that Leno would periodically appear momentarily disinterested in his guest whilst looking over a car. Whilst appearing rude (and so should obviously be self-recognised and overcome) the action obviously did not stem from the intentional rudeness. Instead, inevitably for people who have deep knowledge of a subject (and especially so if that person also has far broader responsibilities than the public might appreciate), there is a natural tendency to appear momentarily remote as his/her mind periodically switches off from overtly typical (and so 'regurgitated' conversation) to momentarily mentally attends to other matters of importance.

[NB the fact is that for specialists (and indeed polymaths) with a voracious appetite the 'same old' conversations can become irksome, especially so for 'people persons' who are essentially able to 'pre-read' the other conversational flow].

As a sociologocal aside, it should be noted that such people who have both intellectual and social depth (deconstructivism) and breadth, and so are able to foresee and pre-read what are all too often completely fabricated social situations, artificially presented as naturalistic to gain certain outcomes. Such people may become socially remote because of the agenda riven, dishonest, intercourse of others.

Herein, given his position, Leno has done very well to not to become a modern day Howard Hughes].

He has arrived at this broad knowledge thanks to a lifetime of indepth automotive interest, his increasing interaction fuelled by celebrity and wealth, but vitally aided by effectively professional research to enable the writing of various automotive magazine columns before the creation of his Garage, from Classis Car Magazine to Popular Mechanics. But it must be remembered that memory is only served well when prompted by enthusiasm.

And it is here that Leno excels.

As a “centre of the road”, “non-blue” and “non-alternative” comedian he operated in the great comedy tradition of something for all. The ability to impressively stand in that centre-ground meant he could reach a broad audience, trusted in front of children and grandparents alike; and hence his rise as host of 'The Tonight Show' at the age of 42, staying in situ for essentially 21 years.

His domestic and international audience reach obviously enormous by his departure. The next step was to take cultural reach and grasp and direct it toward the realm of all things automotive and mechanical, with obvious focus on cars.

Jay Leno's Garage has been broadcast in youtube video and now TV format for a decade, thus having to balance his efforts over both his 'evening shift' with the internal and external demands of JLG since 2014.

The vlog and programme has now become an evolved pillar of American auto-culture, spanning not just conversation and drives about specific weekly vehicle models, but itself a platform to exemplify and promote both the expansive world of motorised mobility (from military to the eccentric) and the newly emerged 'underling' US-centric start-ups and ventures that have emerged after the Great Financial Crisis in 2008. Leno views JLG as a publicly orientated 'output shaft' for the new engine of American enterprise.

The point to be made here is that because of fame and fortune he was able to fully indulge his automotive passions over a long period. But also seemingly recognised, perhaps from his origins, that unlike the transient and tempestuous world of Hollywood entertainment which sees people as little more than money-making products, the true heart of America had been built from the fundamentals of agriculture, industry, trade, retail, idealised consumerism, repair and replacement.

But whilst the movie and TV moguls of Hollywood were busy consistently generating and re-generating the 'American Dream', it relied upon the 'Average Joe' throughout America's economic rise that actually built the country, a country which Leno's grandfather (and many like him) viewed as the New World Utopia, when Old Europe was quickly fragmenting because of its own economic and power struggles.

Leno came from Middle America and to this day recognises the importance of Middle America – especially now given its massively shrunken demographic. It was the social construction of Middle America that made the country great, not the Wall Street boys, the Madison Avenue 'Mad Men' nor the Hollywood moguls and superstars; even if these groups seemingly embody the American Spirit and Dream, because of their proximity to capitalism.

Thus because of his roots and the Hollywood machine, Leno is a 'cultural-conduit', who having made his own historical mark in entertainment's 'hall of fame', seemingly now wishes to make a much deeper cultural impact across the broad fields of the American automotive arena.

As to whether the creation of the impressive collection and the subject platform of the show was truly autonomously evolved by Leno, or by external 'guidance' of the 'Hollywood machine', itself plugged into American soft-power efforts, is impossible to tell. But presumably its results from a meeting of both personal and national aims.

There are numerous other car collections across the USA, ranging from the Peterson Collection of 1920s and 1930s French 'couture' exotica, to the various dedication centres to the renowned drivers of yesteryear at the Indianapolis' 'Brick Yard', to the more recent past with Richard Petty and AJ Foyt NASCAR museums, and to the many 'Car is the Star' collections of TV and film vehicles, but JLG's remit appears to be to try and encapsulate the a breadth not seen before in the USA.

Typically most collections tend to be relatively focused and narrow, understandably so given direct relevant to the specific subject.

The only exceptions being rapidly declining state run collections which had a social remit to present the past, so presenting n often erratic broad range of vehicle types, with recognised focus on those local companies of the lost past.

However, since the 1980s these state-run enterprises have increasingly seen decline as the once healthy budgets of local municipals in the 1950s to the early 1990s shrank accordingly, so unable to retain visitor interest through the purchase new exhibits and stylistic refurbishment. This most prevalent in the 'Rust Belt' regions as local industry, commerce and so people disappeared, and wherein so much local and national history had previously been made. Hence the state owned collections were gradually sold-off or necessarily given away to better homes as museums closed.

So whilst the Motor Cities National Heritage Area was created in 1998, so as to generate a new era of culture-based wealth creation linked to Detroit's and Michigan's past, on a broader scale the outcome was that the story regards the socio-economic / industrial-consumer fabric of America has becoming effectively lost.

Hence, ultimately more reliance upon the very few major efforts of the private sector, the most recognised being the legendary Henry Ford Innovation Centre and associated 'Greenfield Village'.

But whilst this locality was once in the very American heartland it had produced and was able to then attract enormous visitor numbers, today this legendary site sits geographically off the beaten tourist path, especially so for the sizeable number of incoming Asian tourists who themselves want to experience the 'American (ie Californian) Dream'.

Thus, it is in a timely manner then that Jay Leno's efforts to fill his vast warehouse garage with all manner of vehicles and ephemera, accrued over the last 40 years or so, has come into being over the last decade, the decade in which the future trans-global importance of the BRIC, CIVETS, and 'Pioneer' nations has become properly recognised, and in which America is having to find its Animal Spirits once again.

In this realm Leno has become the most important 'new steward' regards much of the West's automotive past.

Precisely because of the immense diversity of vehicles collected – these obtained from a myriad of sources (from widows to defunct museums to private treaty sales) and obviously backed by an 'intelligence network' able to locate such items - no other collection appear to have such a diverse and characterful mix, from the 'everyman' spirit (of Chevrolet, Nash) to the aspirational (in Chrysler-Imperial) to the innovative (in Panhard, Citroen) to 'exotica' (of Bugatti, Lamborghini, McLaren) and back to the functional (as per the Lamborghini tractor) to radical 'home-built' specials (like the Shotwell, a mix of Morgan and TATRA layouts) to the limited-run special editions of mass manufactured vehicles (such as the Ford Shogun or the GMC [S-10] Syclone), and the yesteryear 'alternatives' of steam and electric power (with the Double and Baker respectively).

Exactly how 'Jay Leno's Garage' was ultimately formed will remain with Mr Leno and his closest associates, but over the past ten years or so the youtube channel and later TV programme has come to illustrate just how truly in love with the ideology and archetype of the car much of America still truly is.

At one extreme is the mature overtly wealthy car collector who pretends to be an aficionado of his vehicle and marque, even if plainly the case that he is really partakes for symbolic status and investment potential, and who in reality beyond the rhetoric knows little about the vehicle's history or its mechanics....perhaps none worse than some of the wholly self-absorbed egotistical 'Hollywood Set'.

The anti-dote amongst the worst of the wealthy are the less obvious, demure owners, participants and organisers who run the various Concour d'Elegance events and classic car meets all around the USA, Canada and increasingly Mexico and LatAm countries.

At the opposite extreme is the 'dirt-poor' young person to whom a car offers true mobility, independence and so freedom, and is in itself seen as an integral part of an absorbing history. He or she has either self-taught or been passed-down their mechanical knowledge, and has an evident fascination for their vehicle, even if ignorant about the 130 years of preceding motoring history.

That past that spans from the efforts of Cugnot's 'road-steam-ship' to Benz's first proper compact self-propelled car to the Model T Ford to the ambition of post-war Ferrari to Issigonis' Mini and onto the singular focus of today's Koenigsegg; aswell as the plethora of creations on 2,3 and 4 wheels during that journey.

To his eternal credit, Jay Leno purveys the best of both worlds simultaneously, his talks to young American engineers welcomed by college students to see and hear the revered elder statesman. He and his team, from the multi-skilled craftsmen, in the restoration department, the invisible administrators to those in video production, have created a site – physically and digitally - of true significance to the USA given its own resurgence ambition, and vitally enthused millions of people young and old in most corners of the world to appreciate the past and use those lessons to consider the future.

As such,, typically dressed in 'blue-collar' denim, subsumed ego and encyclopeadic knowledge, yet the public persona and connections to influence and so make things happen.

Jay Leno is the consummate 'Auto-Patron'.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Intermission – Imparting Automotive Passion that Propels Economic Activity – Jay Kay...Auto-Maton.

Jason Luis Cheetham was born at the very pivot-point when the 1960s ended and the 1970s began, and so it is only natural that much of his current car collection originates across these two decades.

He was born one of twin boys, his brother passing when only a few weeks old; so sharing a very rare personal happenstance with Elvis Presley.

Wikipedia relates the generalities of his background, professional and personal life, “hats and all”, but such a repetition is not the aim of this web-log.

Instead try to identify and interpret a few poignant and interesting observations regards the philosophy of his output.

A backdrop theme that emerged long ago was the way he and all in Jamiroquai were able to create seemingly simplistic but quite sophisticated 'funkadelic' musical composition and lyrical verse. And importantly use that performance platform to blend different strands of the macro (ie globally contextual) and micro (ie personal and lifestyle) interests.

As such Jay Kay become an enigmatic cultural totem in himself some time ago, and became intrinsic to the moulding of western consumer consciousness as the 21st century arrived and so implanting the sociological ideals for the century ahead. A major aspect of which has been the ability to increasingly meld the two historically antagonistic opposed ideologies of ecological mindfulness and conspicuous consumption.

It was twenty-one years ago in 1996 with the third album 'Travelling Without Moving', that cultural metamorphoses was seen to be underway. This when the band's endemically natural 'Buffalo Man' logo morphed into a Ferrari badge placed on carbon-fibre effect background.

Whether done in knowing or unknowing manner, that album cover itself acted as a cultural vehicle which helped set in motion the tremors of a new socio-economic idealism whereby eco-responsibility and luxury-opulance could be happily married, and moreover done so in a subtle manner via increased societal casualness with critically less apparent (hierarchical) social codification and artifice.

Thus some cornerstone albums, singles and music videos have been deliberately highly considered and constructed to present implicit reflections of the modern zeitgeist and its relative affect upon the human condition (eg 'Emergency on Planet Earth': ecological, 'Virtual Insanity': sociological, 'Automaton': technological), the big-picture issues that provide the philosophical pillars of the Jamiroquai brand.

Yet there is also a flip-side, one far more intrinsically human.

This invariably depicts Jay Kay as the archetype pop-star character in a pop-star world of luxury cars, personal jets, big houses, swimming pools, beautiful women, many apparent friends and seeming halcyon days. But critically unlike the use of such aspirational constructs in Hip-Hop, Rap and 'modern R+B' videos in which such items are used to display personal power, Jay Kay nearly always overlays the high-life visual upon lyrics about the very real shared human story of attraction, romance, love, relationship torment, loss, substance experimentation etc.

Thus, where a West Coast rapper might have deliberately worn a Rolex on his shirt sleeve (in the eponymous Agnelli style), Jay Kay instead “wears his heart on his sleeve” and in doing so reveals the quality of actually being self-effacing beneath the necessarily self-manufactured exterior.

So it seems only natural that those videos in which he bares his soul should also include his very well appreciated personal cars, which he visually transmits “on his own frequency”.

His personal car interest become known after the 1996 'Cosmic Girl' music video (from the album 'Travelling Without Moving') which included Lamborghini Diablo SE30, Ferrari F40 and F355.

But the breadth of that passion only really understood with what was a first true glimpse given by the TV series Fifth Gear's when the race-driver/presenters Vicki Butler-Henderson and Tiff Needell visited his home to purvey the likes of a Mercedes 600 Pullman, 300 SL Roadster and G-wagen, Bentley Continental S2 Mulliner Drop-Head, Lamborghini Miura, Ferrari 550 Maranello, FIAT 600 Abarth and Maserati A6G/54 (by Frua).

After 'Cosmic Girl' his individual cars took on their own music video guest-spots; done presumably because his creative life is so entwined, but also presumably to enable a rental fee from the overall video budget and to generate strong vehicle provenance as a cultural icon for improved future valuations of a vehicle.

In 'Cosmic Girl' - all about meeting a very rare type of girl, the three vying super-cars speeding through twisting roads, and in doing so provide the viewer with a proximity of the hi-energy felt when encountering that seemingly perfect person.

For 'Love Foolosophy' he compares the ethereal idea of love (indeed blind love) to that of the veneer of superstardom. This all too ironic analogy via knowing simulacra: driving along Corniche type roads in his Bentley S2 Mulliner convertible, wearing a mink coat and with supermodel Heidi Klum and Afghan dog on board.
The toss-away of the expensive coat depicts the comparative renouncement of materialism in recognition that the possibility of true love is superior to all else. Yet even with the best intention, the question posited is whether true love can actually exist, even with the best will, within the attractions of such a hedonistic and complex playboy environment? (where so much is social fakery to be part of the 'in crowd').

'Seven Days in Sunny June' sees a plethora of vehicles from hovercraft to monkey-bikes to a helicopter and the appearance of his yellow FIAT 600 Abarth. The lyrics recount the manner in which strong bonds of love can be formed through friendship for one person, but is not reciprocated by the opposite party. The setting is a hazy summer day filled with playful 'tom-foolery' and feel-good atmosphere, but marred by the disjointedness of what should be ideally a mutual feeling. Thus the theoretical perfection of riches and leisure is seen as at best a mere distraction.

'Feels Just Like it Should' interprets an 'acid trip' (or similar) with decayed urban visual parallels to the film Train Spotting (including 'the fall') and includes an imagined inner-world guide/tormentor.
He flips 'schizophrenically' between his real nerdy character and an imagined cool alter-ego when under the influence. With a 'trippy' reference to 'Love Foolosophy' he runs (akin to a dog) to catch a car, in this case the tail-fin of a specifically chosen immaculate 1962 Cadillac Elderado convertible (the year the Bentley S2 ended and intentionally aesthetically opposite). With a girl in the backseat and his guide/tormentor as driver he takes-on the imagined role of a dog, but his 'alpha-dog' relationship to the car and its occupants depicted by the registration plate of 'WUF' (one of many cross-referenced number plates in his videos). His sparking footwear reminiscent of a lyric line from 'Canned Heat', whilst other visual references reflect elements from the film 'The Matrix' (much cross-fertilised pop-cultural infusion also a mark). The 'trip' ends as his true nerdy self finds himself in a is thrown out of a brothel by his 'guide', who is actually a drug-pushing pimp.

'Black Devil Car' was reputedly written about his black Ferrari Enzo, anthropomorphism and relationship connectivity the central themes to the song. No video made as the song was less important on album track,  seemingly recorded like 'jam' session.

'Cloud Nine' was first publicised on the last episode of the recast (Le Blanc/Harris) Top Gear. Probably done so because the opening shots of the video filmed on a Spanish coast road are so auto-centric, the director deliberately creating visual shots reminiscent of those used in Steve McQueen movies.
The song and video recounts the remembered heartbreak of a past relationship, recognising that although his ex was beautiful, vivacious and funny (played by Monica Cruz) there was little substance beneath the high-lifestyle veneer and living in the moment. The video 'cuts' between a night-time red-lit beach-side bar and daytime of the road that leads to the bar.
Visual representation of the apparent initial commonality is brilliantly conveyed with the vehicle 'props' and cinema-photography. Jay Kay uses his own Ferrari 275 GTB/4 for road scenes and uses a colour matched Mercedes 280SE convertible (exterior and interior) driven by Cruz, highlighting the seeming strong match between the characters. However, the strikingly different bodystyles – architectural vs organic – highlights the true difference, as do their garments: her (affectational) formal status and glamour vs his 'nothing to prove' casualness.
The lyrics highlight that the man has moved-on to a better new relationship having been bitterly disappointed previously, that new relationship based on more than aspirational people, things and places.
The decision to never 'go back' is provided in a great visual ploy at the very end, when his Ferrari pulls up to the Mercedes, matching in colours and with the shot angle lining-up the chrome bumpers and chrome sill-strip of both cars perfectly, almost as if one. After a momentary pause, whilst remembering the reality of the matter, the Ferrari turns around and 'moves-on'.
(The video cross referencing continues with the cars' registration plates – AUTOM8 and COSMIC, both on California state plates, but filmed in Spain)

'Automaton' arrived in early 2017 and re-asserts Jamiroquai's focus on societal issues. It highlights the seismic impact of ever more immersive digital technology on the human mind and so behaviour and the world at large. Cyber-dehumanisation promotes the abandonment of public space and the physically interactive world, depicted as desolate and almost post-apocalyptic. Mental absorption of the digital world is all encompassing, but the warning is that this pre-ordained fixed world simultaneously depletes the person of true influence and so hollows-out the unconscious mind, as proactivity and creativity is subsumed to a reactivity devoid of complex humanity. Any truly creative person thus feels increasingly alienated from the world around them, related by the lyrical use of the book and film title 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'.
So a counter-culture need then to rail against and emphatically “over-ride” 'the machine'. This infers using the brilliance of the human mind to recognise highly powerful cyber-structures (eg 'suggested content') to beat the IT wizards that pull the strings of the human experience, who themselves are sat behind the corporate curtains.
Ultimately a one-man call for appreciation of the big-picture and the need for a mindful counter-balancing force so that humanity does not become a mass of automatons of the near all-powerful IT industry.

Throughout Jamiroqaui's video history it has been Jay Kay's use of his own cars (along with his renowned collection of hats, morphed into Jamiroqaui headgear) that has provided the all important additional personal touch, one which breaks down the typically existent 'fourth wall' between himself and audience.

And vitally, because of his upbringing as a singer's child, a strong sense of the absurdity of the music industry and pop stardom.

This well conveyed in the song 'High Times' illustrating the need for escapism from the psychological effects of extreme demands and exclusive rewards created by the wizards of music/entertainment industry. So swapping flash-bulb, paparazzi, luxury limousines for the anonymity of a utilitarian passenger van headed into the tropical rain forest.

Quite obviously, since “Emergency on Planet Earth”, Jamiroquai's 'eco-credentials' have snow-balled, 'Return of the Space Cowboy' re-affirming anti-hero stance that highlights the Earth's smallness and fragility in the breadth of boundless universe. The Buffalo Man logo deliberately used from the start to highlight the plight of nature if left to the outcome of man's ravenous commercial appetite for natural commodities, and specifically the devastating effects of deforestation on various increasingly endangered animal species.

(The Buffalo Man logo used to provide a kind of adopted tribal authenticity but critically to remind of the rapid decimation of the North American Buffalo in just a few decades during the mid 19th century, and its negative impact upon the great plains eco-system, the lack of manure to the thin top soil leading to the later dust-bowl effect).

That fascination toward the natural world has led to his raising awareness for conservation efforts toward a category of animals known as the Pangolins. Hardly known relative to the exposure of the big cats, elephants, whales etc, Pangolins are both forest and arid dwelling and very solitary, so very removed from popular consciousness but vital to biological diversity, since they in very few forms are the only sub-species of mammal with scale-plated coverings (formed from keratin).

The Pangolin name derives from Malaysian and described them as “the one who rolls-up”, this no doubt viewed as humorous and serendipitous to the man himself given the part 'roll-ups' have played in pop music for decades; from the unfiltered tobacco smoked by 'roadies' to the after-party 'pot' of band-members, groupies and friends.

In a world, indeed 'global village', that has become so devoid of true creativity in the arts and industry – true innovation over-shadowed by stylistic regurgitation - those who demonstrate themselves as both thought leaders and cultural creators ought to be better recognised, and indeed have more influence, than seems the case.

So whilst we live in a world where some music artists for good and bad reasons 'sell out' to big business (Apple Inc buying Dr Dre's 'Beats' a prime example), so arguably devaluing their cultural origins (as middle class 'Wiggers' think themselves 'straight out of Compton'), thankfully there are others with a different perspective. Because not born into inner-city poverty, they can see beyond the trappings and traps of great wealth, and so offer more meaningful 'food for thought', providing for cultural elevation.

The vehicles themselves used as multi-aspect cultural manifestations on and off screen, the car collection seemingly now more personal than ever before.

In our eclectic 'mash-up' modern age that seeks inspiration from all sources and proliferates the retro, never has the upper-class British restraint of the S2 Bentley been so well contrasted against the styling and colour excesses of a then futuristic Vignale-bodied Lamborghini Shooting Brake; whilst the detailing and bespoke colour combination of his Ferrari F12 Tour de France is the direct descendent of his 275GTB/4.

Moreover, he understands innate history and detail of much, absorbed like a sponge since childhood. If only all car collectors were as committed, creative and passionate in their endeavours. Historical appreciation and a curator's eye, are the hallmarks of a good collector, one who likewise invigorates a younger generation.