Posts Tagged ‘enabling technologies’

More Than Money: Report on reciprocal exchange systems

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 14th, 2012

Source: Experientia


Image from the More Than Money Literature Review

From “More than money“:

It’s increasingly clear that we live in collaborative times. Many of the most interesting innovations of recent years have at their heart ideas of sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, exchanging or swapping. These are age-old concepts being reinvented through network technologies and a cultural shift driven by the more civic minded millennial generation.
The [More Than Money] report, with the subtitle “Platforms for exchange and reciprocity in public services”, was commissioned by NESTA and nef in an attempt to learn the lessons from the past and to provide a framework for understanding the many different approaches to complementary currencies and other platforms for reciprocal exchange.

An associated literature review brings together the existing evidence of impact, outcomes and cost that exist across reciprocal exchange systems. Time banks, complementary currencies and peer-to-peer platforms for collaborative consumption are all examples of these reciprocal exchange systems, and to structure this review we have created a typology of different types of systems to organise the evidence.

Read this article on the Experientia blog.


Smart Low-Tech Designs: Improving harvest yield and storage

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 11th, 2012

This week Nourishing the Planet TV showcases some of the work that Compatible Technology International is doing to help farmers preserve or process their crops to reduce loss:

“In its effort to alleviate poverty and hunger in the developing world, Compatible Technology International (CTI) designs, builds, and distributes affordable post-harvest tools—such as a cool storage shed and food processing grinder—for rural farmers in the developing world. CTI’s devices can help farmers process, store, and sell their crops.

While many organizations are focused on improved seeds, access to fertilizers, and irrigation to improve crop yields, relatively few are focused on post-harvest improvements. But many poor farmers live on yields from a hectare or less of land and getting the maximum benefit from those yields can make up the difference between abject poverty and a livable income.

CTI’s technologies are scaled to fit the needs of small villages, families, coops, and micro-businesses. Extra attention is paid to developing safe, affordable, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, and culturally compatible devices in the hope that they will be more widely adopted and facilitate lasting change in poor farming communities. CTI encourages craftsmen and entrepreneurs in and around these communities to build and sell their devices, reducing dependence on outside assistance once the technology has been adopted.” Matt Styslinger

The episode is essentially taken from an article published by Matt Styslinger for NtP in June last year, so you can choose between reading the full article or watching the synopsis.


The Rough Guide to Community Energy: Free book

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 9th, 2012

What can we do to create sustainability in our own communities? How can local people work together to save or generate energy and tackle climate change?

The Rough Guide to Community Energy has the answers. Packed full of practical advice and inspiring case studies, it covers:

  • Local energy groups – how to set one up and keep its momentum going
  • Types of project including solar, wind, hydro, biomass, CHP and energy efficiency
  • Getting a project off the ground, from fundraising and planning to construction
  • Real-world advice from successful groups all over the UK

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you already have a local energy group, The Rough Guide to Community Energy will help you make your project happen.

>> Get your free copy.

Check out the Resources section at the back of the book for websites and further reading.  KA


Smart Stormwater Management: India

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 12th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute

From “A Success Story in Parched India” by Kamaria Greenfield:

Wankute, a tiny village located high in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Maharashtra state of India, was dry and near-barren in the 1990s. Agriculture was limited to crops that could withstand hot temperate and little water, such as millet and certain legumes. The men worked outside of the village to bring in enough income for their families. Women sometimes walked for a kilometer and a half to obtain the day’s water. During the three months of annual, inevitable drought, the villagers would pay to have water tankers come in.

[...]

In 2003, the residents heard about the success of watershed development in similar nearby villages and wanted to try it for themselves. The main problem in Wankute was not that there was no rainfall, but that the limited 450 millimeters that fell every year did so during a short period of time, usually for less than three weeks. To transform their community, the village partnered with the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), a not-for-profit NGO that works in several Indian states, to bring much-needed water and prosperity to Wankute.

Since 1996, WOTR has conducted 747 watershed projects in India. The first of its eleven developmental sectors is a commitment to Integrated Water Resources Management. Efforts were at first met with some skepticism and resistance. Villagers were especially uneasy when WOTR mandated a ban on tree felling and the free grazing of cattle. But this was necessary for the planting of new trees and grasses, which would hold the soil and moisture in place. The main idea of the watershed development in Wankute was to build a water treatment structure composed of bunds (ridges and ditches in the soil) and check dams.

Today, the results are clear. The water tables have risen significantly and the villagers have not imported tankers for water since the project was finished. The vegetation planted eight years ago continues to thrive on the hillsides. And overall employment has increased because farmers can work with their crops for eight months out of the year instead of a meager three. A wide variety of more water-intensive crops now flourish, including wheat, tomato, onion, and potato. Because of this bounty, the export of foodstuffs and the import of agricultural labor have both increased. In addition to agricultural benefits, the watershed development has also had health and social benefits for the village. There is now no shortage of potable water, reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses such as cholera and dysentery. With their greater total income, the villagers built a new community hall, two new schools, a public health center, 150 latrines, and more roads for better transportation of goods. The women of Wankute have formed nine different self-help groups and invested in alternative energy methods such as solar lampsbecause they can no longer cut down trees for fuel. Furthermore, because labor and resources are now both readily available in the village, men can work locally and families are more physically intact. The introduction of watershed development has had far-reaching effects that, ten or fifteen years ago, neither the people of Wankute nor the world at large could have imagined.

Read the full article by Kamaria Greenfield for Nourishing the Planet.


Low-Tech Transferable Designs: Pictorial Manuals

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 23rd, 2011

Source: No Tech Magazine

From “When Low-Tech Goes IKEA” edited by Deva Lee:

What happens when two industrial design students from Sweden end up in Kenya creating a pedal powered machine for small-scale farmers who are often illiterate and speak more than 60 languages? You get a do-it-yourself design that seems to have come out of the IKEA factories – pictorial manuals included. “Made in Kenya“, the bachelor project of Niklas Kull and Gabriella Rubin, is a textbook example of low-tech made accessible to everybody, regardless of their native tongue and language skills. [...]

The students had two aims for their project: to improve the economic conditions of the local small-scale farmers, who make up three quarters of the workforce in the country, and to stimulate the local manufacturing industry. At present, Kenya lacks an industrial-scale manufacturing industry and is highly dependent on the import of goods. The juice extractor is of a capacity and cost that would allow a small group of neighbouring farmers to invest collectively in a small production facility. To keep production costs low, ensure availability in rural areas and promote the domestic manufacturing capacity, the pedal-powered machine does not require complex components or manufacturing methods.  The design manual is aimed at the Jua Kali – the informal manufacturing sector which represents an estimated six million of the Kenyan workforce. With limited capital, modest workshop facilities and narrow access to raw materials, these self-employed blacksmiths and carpenters make handmade products – such as agricultural implements, hand tools and kitchen utensils – at a lower price than the imported goods.

Read the full article on No Tech Magazine.


Mo-bility: Design Concept for Integrated Transport Credits

Posted in Visions by Kate Archdeacon on November 9th, 2011

Via Sustainable Cities Collective

mo“ – a flexible mobility system for the city of tomorrow

mo is a new mobility system – it helps make the city a better place to live. mo subscribers can rent bikes, cargobikes, ebikes and cars or use public transportation with just one card. With mo it pays to be eco-friendly: choose an eco-friendly transport or use your own bike to collect momiles. The more momiles the lower your bill. For instance if you mostly ride bikes, renting a car gets cheaper. Cycle and save money.

About the design concept: Under the direction of Munich design agency LUNAR Europe, a “human-centred” design process has been used to develop an innovative mobility system by the name of “mo”. The concept study, developed in collaboration with environmental organisation Green City e.V. and the University of Wuppertal, is based on a flexible, affordable and sustainable combination of bike rental systems, local public transport and car sharing.

>> Read more about mo.



Low-Tech Vertical Veggie Gardens

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 3rd, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute


Photo: Roots of Health

From “Working With the Community to Foster Deep Roots of Health” by Molly Theobald:

Roots of Health, an organization based on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, views maternal and reproductive health as concerns that impact the well-being of entire communities.[...]

Roots of Health and its staff of young nurses and teachers, work directly with mothers and children, to bring reproductive and maternal health, nutrition, and education into the community.[...]

Roots of Health is also providing families with the tools they need to improve their nutrition.

One of these tools is a vertical garden—a large plastic drum with 40 holes cut evenly around the sides. These holes create an area for planting that is more than six times greater than the top surface of the container. The drum is filled with compost-enriched soil and planted with seeds such as eggplant, chili, pumpkin, okra and various indigenous leafy greens such as alugbati and pechay. Straw is used on the top surface as a mulch to help the soil retain moisture and nutrients.

The soil used in the vertical gardens is a homemade mixture of soil, charcoal, which acts as a conditioner, limestone, to reduce the acidity, and compost, to add additional nutrients to the soil. In this way, the vertical garden is its own self-contained and fertile growing space, producing healthy and nutrient rich harvests that are isolated from ground pollutants and pests.The organization prefers to use the plastic drums because the plastic stands up best in the humid, tropical weather, explained Marcus Swanepoel, Media and Program Manager for Roots of Health.

The drums cost approximately $15 USD each and the organization provides them to families in exchange for a small deposit. The vegetables grown in these vertical gardens not only help to improve nutrition for mothers and their children, they are also helping to diversify the diets of the entire community. Each drum produces enough food to supplement household diets, with surplus left over to be sold within the community. And households have really made the vertical gardens their own, adds Marcus. “I know some families that have set up poles on the top of the drums in order to grow beans—that isn’t something we taught them to do. They are doing it all on their own.”[...]

Read the full article by Molly Theobald, or visit the Roots of Health website.


Human Microphones: Mass Word of Mouth

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 19th, 2011

Via No Tech Magazine


Photo by Mat McDermott via flickr CC

From We Are All Human Microphones Now by Richard Kim:

Anyone who’s been down to Occupy Wall Street and stayed for a General Assembly will instantly recognize the call and response that begins, and frequently interrupts, each meeting.

“Mic check?” someone implores.

“MIC CHECK!” the crowd shouts back, more or less in unison.

The thing is—there’s no microphone. New York City requires a permit for “amplified sound” in public, something that the pointedly unpermitted Occupy Wall Street lacks. This means that microphones and speakers are banned from Liberty Plaza, and the NYPD has also been interpreting the law to include battery-powered bullhorns. Violators can be sentenced for up to thirty days in prison. Further complicating the matter is the fact that Liberty Plaza is not actually a public park. It’s privately owned by Brookfield Office Properties, landlords to Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, and in addition to amplified sound, they’ve also sought to ban sleeping bags, tents and other equipment from what they call “Zuccotti Park.”

So despite all the attention given to how Twitter, Facebook and livestream video have helped spread the word, the heart of the occupation is most definitely unplugged. But the protesters aren’t deterred one bit; they’ve adopted an ingeniously simple people-powered method of sound amplification.

After the mic check, the meeting proceeds:

with every few words?/?WITH EVERY FEW WORDS!

repeated and amplified out loud?/?REPEATED AND AMPLIFIED OUT LOUD!

by what has been dubbed?/?BY WHAT HAS BEEN DUBBED!

the human microphone?/?THE HUMAN MICROPHONE!!! (jazz hands here).

The overall effect can be hypnotic, comic or exhilarating—often all at once. As with every media technology, to some degree the medium is the message. It’s hard to be a downer over the human mic when your words are enthusiastically shouted back at you by hundreds of fellow occupiers, so speakers are usually pretty upbeat (or at least sound that way). Likewise, the human mic is not so good for getting across complex points about, say, how the Federal Reserve’s practice of quantitative easing is inadequate to address the current shortage of global aggregate demand (although Joe Stiglitz valiantly tried on Sunday), so speakers tend to express their ideas in straightforward narrative or moral language. [...]

Read the full article by Richard Kim.  Check out Occupy Melbourne.


Affordable Solar- & Water-harvesting House, built by students

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 18th, 2011


Graphic by Leah Davies

WaterShed, the University of Maryland’s [winner of] the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011, is a solar-powered home comprised of systems that interact with each other and the environment. A home that harvests, recycles, and reuses water, WaterShed not only conserves but produces resources with the water it captures. Inspired by the rich, complex ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the home displays harmony between modernity, tradition, and simple building strategies, balancing time-trusted best practices and cutting-edge technological solutions to achieve high efficiency performance in an affordable manner.  The home was built by a multi-disciplinary team of students over the course of two years.

About the Design:

WaterShed is a solar-powered home inspired and guided by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, interconnecting the house with its landscape, and leading its dwellers toward a more sustainable lifestyle. The house is formed by two rectangular modules capped by a split-butterfly roof that is well-suited to capturing and using sunlight and rainwater. The spacious and affordable house features:

  • constructed wetlands, filtering storm water and grey water for reuse
  • a green roof, retaining stormwater and minimizing the heat island effect
  • an optimally sized photovoltaic array, harvesting enough energy from the sun to power WaterShed year-round
  • edible landscapes, supporting community-based agriculture
  • a liquid desiccant waterfall, providing high-efficiency humidity control in the form of an indoor water feature
  • a solar thermal array, supplying enough energy to provide all domestic hot water, desiccant regeneration, and supplemental space heating
  • engineering systems, working in harmony and each acting to increase the effectiveness of the others
  • a time-tested structural system that is efficient, cost-effective, and durable.
About the Solar Decathlon:

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition challenging 20 student teams from universities around the world to design and build houses powered entirely by the sun. Over ten competition days, the teams compete in ten different events such as architecture, engineering, and affordability. The team with the highest overall score is the winner. Each day the winner of one of the ten contests is publicly announced, providing the opportunity for individual recognition among the decathlete teams. The winner of the 2011 competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. This year’s competition [was] on public display in the solar village at West Potomac Park, Washington, DC from September 23 – October 2. The house entries will be judged in subjective contests such as market appeal, communications, and home entertainment, and objective measured tests such as comfort zone, hot water, and energy balance. The houses are on public exhibition with the intent of educating visitors about environmental issues, emerging sustainable technologies, and energy-saving measures.

http://2011.solarteam.org/


Freight Efficiency: Combining shipping loads from different companies

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 29th, 2011

Source: Transport Intelligence


Image © Schneider Logistics Inc

From “Schneider Logistics offers new LTL pooling service“:

Schneider Logistics, Inc., part of the Schneider National enterprise, has unveiled a new service offering for shippers with re-occurring less-than-truckload (LTL) moves. Integrated Delivery Services (IDS) utilises Schneider’s Supply Chain management technology, cross-docking abilities and dedicated trucking experience to provide a new, cost-effective supply chain solution for shippers willing to pool their cargo.

“Schneider saw an opportunity to provide a smarter solution for shippers moving LTL freight in the same geographic markets,” explained Todd Jadin, vice president of IDS for Schneider Logistics. “Integrated Delivery Services is especially attractive to shippers in the automotive aftermarket, heavy truck and equipment manufacturers, and specialty retailers. Companies within each of these industries run common routes and have similar distribution locations and dispatch schedules; by pooling their deliveries, we provide tremendous efficiencies and cost savings.”

Schneider piloted Integrated Delivery Services in Denver, Colorado with shippers of competing brands who had similar delivery windows, routes, shuttles and cross-dock locations. Through a shared-channel approach, Schneider merged freight and created customised routes based on multiple shippers’ cross-docking, dedicated delivery, pool distribution, reverse logistics and LTL consolidation needs. Schneider’s Integrated Delivery Service currently operates in eight networks across the US: Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Los Angeles, California; Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Lenexa, Kansas; Jackson, Mississippi; Winchester, Virginia, and Memphis, Tennessee. Markets targeted for expansion include the Midwest and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

Read the original article on Transport Intelligence.