Post #7: IP vs. OSD – Infrastructure

Infrastructure is so important and definitely an area that OSD can help improve. Infrastructure is a subject that is especially near to my heart because I see so much deficiency in America’s infrastructure.

Today in class, we watched a video on a revolutionary plan to design and build Abu Dhabi. The video discussed all the ways that Abu Dhabi would implement new, innovative strategies to build an extremely solid infrastructure. To be honest, the video sold me.

I saw so many cool things, ranging from pollution control to transportation efficiency to education reform. They talked about strategies on how to eliminate typical fossil fuel transportation and a strategy to start a University dedicated to educating students purely on sustainability. But in the end, what impressed me most, was the design to provide shade on every street. By creating narrower streets (large motor vehicles were not needed), the city would be able to maintain and average temperature 20 degrees cooler than usual.

Although this city may be somewhat romanticized, I still think it is incredible. Specifically, the ability to change the climate of the city purely through infrastructure is amazing. I think this is the most impressive because in essence, it allows humans to occupy and manipulate our environment in ways that were previously impossible. Thinking specifically about Abu Dhabi, the city is literally in the desert. 1000 years ago, it would have been virtually impossible to inhabit this geographic area. 10 years ago, living in the area is possible, but not ideal due to the hot temperatures. Today, not only is it possible to live there, but it is comfortable and enjoyable.

That’s the essence of infrastructure, infrastructure gives humans the ability to do things with our environment that we previously thought were impossible.

And what’s frustrating about America is that we don’t invest as much into this. One topic that I especially care about is our road system.

Today in class, Professor Bevin said something along the lines of “knowledge driven development is the key for innovation and infrastructure”. I couldn’t agree more. Knowledge, not just knowing about our environment, but also learning from our past, is so important for infrastructure.

When looking at the greater transportation market, all infrastructure has been revolutionized in the last 100 years. Our train and metro systems are faster, planes exist, and our vehicles are more powerful. What’s the one thing that hasn’t changed? Our road system.

Our classic traffic and road systems have been the same for 100 years. Sure we have MORE roads, and perhaps the materials and designs of the roads are better, but in general, we still follow the same method of transportation. I don’t understand why our roads are so deficient in so many ways. For example, why are they so hard to replace? Why don’t we have modular roadways? Or, why can’t our roads be made out of materials that have heating capabilities to melt snow and ice? Or why can’t our roads actively communicate with our cars such as an IoT system? Or why can’t we install LED systems to alert drivers of oncoming hazards?

A lot of the questions I just posed will be irrelevant in the coming future with the surge of self-driving cars. It’s just my opinion that the roadways in America are extremely deficient considering the day and age, and that serious investment is needed. If we’ve learned anything from our past, it should be that transportation innovation is crucial – I don’t know why our roadways are excluded. Perhaps OSD is the answer we have been looking for all our infrastructure needs.

Sources
Open Source Hardware Business Model
Proof of Concept 21
Oggun – Open Source Tractor for Cuban farms

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