A car you can download

The Tabby, an open source car, is now available for download. The idea is that this open car ‘platform’ can be customised for particular needs in particular markets. Cars could be produced in batches of hundreds or thousands or even as an individual item, to meet an individual need, but still be based on the core platform.

A little like the way every Android phone and iPhone is built on the same basic platform, but can be customised in umpteen ways by the owner to meet their particular need.

illustration of Tabby Car

Tabby Car from OSVehicle

I look forward to hearing from experts how open this design actually is, and what can really be done with it, and what price point it could be done at.

Charging for Postcodes and the Legendary Ryanair Toilet Levy

Yesterday we got some information about how open the Irish postcode system will be funded. Essentially the idea is to pay for its setup and operating costs out of a charge to end-users for the database – charging for access to the ‘facility’, if you like. This ‘licence fee’ is a rather humdrum traditional idea about charging for things to do with computers and information.

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A proper address can be a matter of life and death

The Irish Times reports this morning that an ambulance was sent to a wrong address and that as a result receipt of medical attention was delayed. TheĀ child subsequently died. This is a great tragedy, most of all for that child’s parents, but also for us all. We can cure cancer, but we can’t get an ambulance out to a dying child.

[updated with new information 22 June, see below] Continue reading

Ireland’s Nokia

Ireland has a world-leading retail brand, which is famous among consumers all over Europe and the world. Not only that, but it has developed into the uncontested leader in its field, in terms of volumes and profitability. It is the biggest international player. It is innovative and has opened new frontiers. It provides services in neglected regions. It has helped the poor to better themselves. It has helped build political and social cohesion.

This company is Ryanair, the world’s favorite airline. Despite having the biggest international airline in the world based in our yard, we in Ireland cannot figure out how to sort out our tourism problem. We wonder what to do about unemployment after the closure of SR Technics as we turn away Ryanair jobs and write nasty articles full of innuendo. At the same time, we bring in the man who closed down Sabena and try to convince ourselves that he is somehow going to turn around our sub-scale flag-carrier into a European player. This is just hubris.

Time to cap the number of cars?

Ireland has reached and passed ‘peak cars’ according to a report in the Irish Times. Is it time to say we have enough cars on the road and put a cap?

This sounds like a crazy thing to suggest, at least in the Western World. But in Singapore, there has been a cap on the number of cars for around 20 years, the Vehicle Quota System. Under this system, you have to bid for a ‘certificate of entitlement‘ before you can buy a car. The quota is set in accordance with the amount of road space that is actually available. Then, there are regularly auctions. If a lot of people want to buy cars that month, the price is high (potentially tens of thousands of dollars). If no one is buying, then the price is low (could be as low as S$2).

This would be far more sensible than the system of vehicle taxation which we have at the moment in Ireland. It would address the very real problem of congestion. It would also provide a stimulus to the motor industry during quiet years, because car purchasing would be more attractive when demand for cars was low and so prices of Certificates of Entitlement were also low.

The end result of this is that it makes major congestion much less likely and allows traffic to be managed. Demand for road space (which is the ultimate cause of congestion and traffic delays) is under control at source.

Before we do this, we would need to have a far higher quality of public transport to offer, especially in the cities. Also in the Irish Times, read about Ventekedis and Leahy’s proposal to vastly improve public transport in Dublin.