For my first example, i introduce to you the ingenuity of the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC), who teamed up with ad agency Mayo DraftFCB looking for a way to promote their application period of 2013. Mayo DraftFCB focused their marketing expertise on the expertise of UTEC and together, they made a billboard.
Now this isn't just any ordinary billboard. Dropped along the Pan-American Highway near the city of Lima, the billboard hopes to capitalize on Lima's highly humid environment by using an inverse osmosis filtration system to produce a commodity that residents of the desert city seriously require; water. For those who don't know, Lima is one of the most humid and driest city in Peru and one of the driest in the world. With 1.2 million residents of Lima lacking running water, they have to rely on private-companies to deliver water that ends up costing 20 times more than what the wealthy pay for their tap water.
In three months, the billboard has been able to produce 2,500 gallons of water, quenching the thirst of hundreds of families per month.
The only down side I saw to this project, was its inability of being self-sufficient. Requiring electricity, it is troublesome to think of how long electricity will be provided for the billboard by UTEC. Once the campaign for enrolment is over, will the billboard go along with it, or will the people at UTEC seriously adopt this as an initiative to further salvage the issue of scarce water?
Guess we will just have to wait and see.
The second example of collaborative innovation I want to bring to attention is Google's newest project, Loon. Much like the name suggests, Google is teaming up with Raven Aerostar balloons on a crazy conquest to bring wireless internet access to the most remote parts of the world. Using helium balloons, solar panels and wireless antennas, a coverage area of 1250 square km can be provided to those who want/need access to the internet, all you'll need is a special antenna fitted to your house.
The main issue with this project is the demographic that is being reached out to. Targeting remote areas of the world that don't have internet is a pretty good indicator of the level of technical aptitude in those areas as well. Flight time is another issue, as the balloons have a maximum flight time of 55 days, meaning that they'll either have to be replaced or refuelled. Critics of this endeavour suggest that such top-down hardware distribution techniques, historically, are prone to failure and focusing on what is available in the areas being targeted would be a more viable solution.
Regardless of the flaws associated with the project, I think Google's initiative is a commendable one and helps bring the world a little closer. Can you think of alternative solutions to the posed problems? Is trying to get everyone on the internet a feasible initiative? Does everyone need to be on the internet? I don't have the answers to all of these questions, but I do know having a vast amount of knowledge at the tip of your finger and being aware of it is a future that can help tackle problems more efficiently than we are able to today.