England's New Emergency Services Network Development In Trouble

May Not Be Ready for 2012 London Olympics

2 min read
England's New Emergency Services Network Development In Trouble

The London Observer claims in a story published yesterday that the £1.4bn emergency network called FiReControl being developed to address bomb scares, fires and floods is unlikely to be in place for the 2012 London Olympic Games and "could even end up scrapped."

According to the FiReControl system web site: "Under the current planning assumptions the first three Regional Control Centres will go live in summer 2010 - nine months later than previously expected, with the full system expected in place by spring 2012 - five months later than planned."

However, the Observer says that leaked documents indicate that the FiReControl system is actually 10 months behind the published schedule, which means that it will not be ready for the Olympics.

The Conservative Party, the Observer story notes, "have repeatedly said that any control centre that is not operational if and when they get elected will be canceled, suggesting the entire project faces the axe."

The FiReControl system, which was to integrated 46 stand alone fire control rooms into 9 regional centers, was originally initiated in March 2004 and slated to be completed by November of 2007. The government promised that it would use "tried and tested" technology to ensure that a rapid (and cost contained) implementation would ensue. That didn't happen, as costs have exploded from the original project estimate of £100 million.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called for a complete review and overhaul of the project last November when the project was delayed again. At that time, the FBU said that "Everyone knows this project is a disaster."

This latest potential slip will no doubt make the FBU demands for a review even more emphatic, especially after a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: "We are confident that Fire Control system can be delivered and as with any project of this size it is right and proper for there to be contingency plans put in place."

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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