I’m inspired by this Daily prompt which gives me a permission to have my own, much deserved free run with a no-failure guarantee! Therefore, i will articulate my thoughts on what i would want to do, in brief.
I live in a developing country which is unfortunately, paralyzed with huge infrastructure problems since decades and quality of life is, at best, only slowly dragging on in terms of improvement. I care a lot about the quality of life and do firmly believe that good quality of life should reach every citizen as cheaply/freely as possible.
Here is the premise for my failure-proof free-run — people of the developed, developing and poorer parts of the world have access to nearly the same quality of information on the web. However, when it comes to real infrastructure on ground, it varies vastly per region (ranging from efficient public transport in the developed world to poor-quality roads in the developing and poorer parts of the world).
What i would like to do — i would like to bridge the gap between the virtual world and the real world when it comes to user-experience with infrastructure so that a person living in the developing / poor parts of the world gets an enhanced quality of life arising from the virtual world which is relevant to his interaction with the real-world.
A few problems which a commoner faces in my part of the developing world:
1. Untimely public transport: People still have to wait in huge numbers at bus-stops, sometimes in peak heat / rains, waiting for their bus which takes ages to arrive owing to traffic congestion elsewhere. As a result, many take to parasite-transport forms such as rickshaws (tuk-tuks) and cabs which further add to the traffic congestion (and in huge numbers). There is no accurate, realtime tracking service yet.
2. No proper directions to nearby places: There are generally no area-wise public maps, directions to places available. This makes finding a place difficult as also no awareness of what is nearby.
3. A lot of businesses have no websites. The dot-com boom made a belated appearance here for some businesses while bypassing most small businesses. Businesses at best have an online presence but no public API which can get tech folks develop apps for them and in that process, garner more business opportunities for them.
4. Long queues wherever you go. Be it the ticket-booking center for your travel, the local medicine-store to make your purchases or the service center to get your repairs.
5. Unmanaged / manually managed vehicular traffic.
6. Lack of parking spaces. Presently, no possibility of finding the nearest parking place even before you reach the spot.
There are many more such problems that one typically faces in a developing part of the world and most of these have not gone away for years. Each of these problems has a solution to it using only technology.
Considering that physical infrastructure would take it’s own long time to develop, and that development of physical infrastructure is out of the hands of a commoner, i would really like to integrate the virtual infrastructure (read the Web) with the physical infrastructure. The Web has a proven history of rapid innovation, has a character of openness and can certainly go a long way in “reaching out” to a far lagging physical world. Technologies such as Object hyperlinking (RFID, QR codes ..), crowdsourcing and the “Internet of Things” have huge potential towards “Smarter living” and i would like to apply these and see them in action in the context of improving Quality of life in the developing world.
Why i haven’t tried it yet – Obviously, the web cannot reach out to the physical world all the way, all by itself. Therefore, there has to be some push towards adoption of new technology by society. Unless we get real fast internet for cheap, unless society makes a conscious effort to adopt technology in an effective way and in large scale, solutions to such problems cannot be effectively applied. It is society as a whole that needs to drive change.
This is in response to the Daily prompt — http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/daily-prompt-too-big-to-fail/