It’s that time of year again when we lose an hour over the weekend as the clocks go forward to British Summer Time. Twice a year we alter the clocks but in an age of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) and time server synchronisation is it really necessary?
The changing of the clocks is something that was discussed just before World War I when London builder William Willet suggested the idea as a way of improving the nation’s health (although his initial idea was to advance the clocks twenty minutes on each Sunday in April).
His idea wasn’t taken up although it sowed the seed of an idea and when the First World War erupted it was adopted by many nations as a way to economise and maximise daylight although many of these nations discarded the concept after the war, several including the UK and USA kept it.
Daylight saving has altered over the years but since 1972 it has remained as British Summer Time (BST) in the summer and Greenwich Meantime in the winter (GMT). However, despite is use for nearly a century the changing of the clocks remains controversial. For four years Britain experimented without daylight changing but it was proved unpopular in Scotland and the North where the mornings were darker.
This timescale hopping does cause confusion (I for one will miss that hour extra in bed on Sunday) but as the world of commerce adopts the global civil timescale (which fortunately is the same as GMT as UTC is adjusted with leap seconds to ensure GMT is unaffected by the slowing of the Earth’s rotation) is it still necessary?
The world of time synchronisation certainly doesn’t need to adjust for daylight saving. UTC is the same the world over and thanks to devices such as the NTP server can be synchronised so the entire world runs the same time.