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You can help start up the FabLab process, be statistically significant and fill out the survey!

2 Jun

By filling out the survey, you’ll be helping me understand your needs, and also help make a case for the Toronto FabLab’s place in the market.

I’ll need a minimum of 30 responses in order for the survey to be useful in our business plan and funding acquisition. So please, help us help you by filling out the survey below. A million thanks!

Casey

Survey Link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LWLJMLC

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Augmented Reality maps from Microsoft

2 Mar

Sunday Digest – XCamp

1 Mar

Xcamp for XClinic (jargon alert)

On February 25th we had a changecamp style unconference on establishing guidelines on both the porting of Natalie Jeremijenko’s environmental health clinic project, XClinic, to Toronto, and the development of a start up kit to help spawn other XClinics in other cities.

The event was very successful, with “many gifts” in the room, and fantastic discussion.

Basic bullet points.

XClinic thesis – Health is a factor of our environment, not just our genes and individual behaviour.

XCamp issues

– The scalability of an art/design environmental project to larger audiences, esp. in the absence of direction from Natalie Jeremijenko

– The goal of XClinics: quirky art (potentially meaningless) projects , or effective (potentially boring) projects? I say neither and both are necessary and sufficient.

– Related to above, we had a lot of conversation about whether there was a formula for the NJ magic. I think there is, but I also think it would be meaningless to try and reproduce it.

– Ibid, we also talked a little about metrics. How would we gauge success of a project.

For more information on XClinic in Toronto, subscribe to this blog or visit http://www.manara.ca/xclinic/

Event photos here.

I wish I had found this earlier. ISO Polar’s publications.

4 Nov

http://www.isopolar.ca/publications.html

Just a sample of the research gold that I missed during thesis.

Airship Economic Studies and Papers

Various papers authored by ISO Polar’s board of directors, sustaining members and associates.

Economics of Airships for Perishable Food Trade

Authored by:
Dr. Barry E. Prentice, Transport Institute, University of Manitoba
Richard P. Beilock, University of Florida
Alfred J. Phillips, A.J. Phillips & Associates
Download (PDF Document, Size: 357.67 KB)

Continue reading

The ultimate test for WFP truckers: No problem for WFP airship pilot.

23 Apr
WFP truck on the Nationale 3 road in Congo

WFP truck on the Nationale 3 road in Congo

From WFP.org

Route Nationale 3 is a lifeline for thousands of people who depend on the [World Food Program] for food. It’s also a kidney-bruising, stomach-churning morass of hills, holes, greasy mud and rickety bridges.

Read the article to see just how bad the roads are.

It seems to me that this image of the WFP truck, carrying vital supplies stuck in the mud, would be all the indication of failure that an organization would need.  Yes we can blame it on the road, as it was built in the 60’s and poorly maintained, but as the WFP should know best, disasters don’t always happen in areas well serviced by roads.  The WFP is doing its best and also repairing sections of the road so that future deliveries may go through more easily, but it’s not the WFP’s job to build roads.  It is its job to deliver food to starving people in some of the worst places in the world.  If the current methods don’t work, then it’s their responsibility to find ones that do work.  The problem of hunger isn’t going to go away in 50 years, so it’s still not too late:  GET AN AIRSHIP.

UPLIFT: Graphics

16 Apr

dontpanicThe envelope of an airship presents a vast amount of real esate for graphics.  In addition to declaring, in no uncertain terms, the organization chartering the airship, the sides of the airship may also broadcast soothing messages, or important information.  This could be achieved in such simple ways as painting or applying decals, as they do now on Goodyear and Zeppelin airships.  Or, a more sophisticated projection system, similar to 21st Century’s, which turns the whole airship into a screen.  Or even better, epaper panels, the size of sailcloth could tell people help is on the way, meet here, or these people are alive and looking for their families etc, etc.

CASH-STARVED WFP MAY BE FORCED TO GROUND LIFE-SAVING HELICOPTERS

3 Apr

World's largest helicopter - 16 ton lift

31 October 2005

ISLAMABAD – Less than four weeks after Pakistan’s worst-ever earthquake, the United Nations World Food Program may be forced to ground its relief helicopters because it lacks the funds to fly them. The helicopters are the only means to reach hundreds of thousands of survivors cut off by landslides in the rugged mountains of northeast Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

103105-wfp-may-be-forced-to-ground-helicopters-in-pak

The cost of an MI-26, the largest helicopter in the world with a capacity to ferry 16 tons of supplies per flight at these high altitudes is approximately US$11,000 per hour excluding fuel and support costs. WFP needs to operate five of these giant Russian-made planes in addition to 22 of the smaller MI-8 which each carry three tons of supplies. However, due to limited funding, WFP has only deployed eight MI-8 helicopters and one MI-26 and has confirmed only an additional four MI-8’s and one MI-26.

UPLIFT: The Rationale

2 Apr

Putting together the document right now. Why is this completely crazy idea worth thinking about?  What are the benefits to all parties?

Read on. Comments are welcome, as always.

**************************

PROBLEM

The number of displaced persons, worldwide: 26 Million [1]{Displaced because of war only, does not include “several million” environmental refugees.}

People affected by disasters: 201 Million [2]

  • 405 natural disasters were reported worldwide in 2007.
  • The estimated cost of damage inflicted by natural disasters in 2007 is nearly $63.5 billion.
  • The combined total of 23,167 people killed by natural and technological disasters was the lowest of the decade, far below the decade’s average of 113,000.[2]

963 million people live without sufficient food. (25,000 of them die due to hunger or related causes) [3]

Organizations such as the Red Cross, World Food Program provide aid to these millions of people in need.  The recent increases in food and fuel costs have led to the necessity of aid rationing.  In addition, transportation is often difficult due to lack of infrastructure, or obstacles resulting from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes.

As an illustration of transport difficulties in the DRC, even before wars damaged the infrastructure, the so-called “national” route, used to get supplies to Bukavu from the seaport of Matadi, consisted of the following:

In other words, goods had to be loaded and unloaded eight times and the total journey would take many months.[4]*

Extensive road building and rail rehabilitation through the challenging terrain would take decades.

India, China and the Middle East have invested heavily into infrastructure in a number of African countries, including Angola, Togo and the DRC.[5]

PROPOSED SOLUTION

Airships.

A number of entities, from Boeing to DARPA in the US, to ISO Polar in Canada, have been pushing the agenda on lighter than air technology in the last decade.  Research into the viability of airships has been done continuously for at least the last 30 years. *NASA Report on airships for coastal surveillance and

transportation-mission-survey-boeing-vertol

new-air-transportation-system-for-heavy-bulky-cargo

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In recent years, airship development of a brand new transportation sector with a wide range of possible applications.

These include:
–    Hauling fuel and supplies in northern (arctic) and desert regions
–    Freight from China to markets around the world
–    Monitoring the Arctic, jungles
–    Luxury cruises (13 million cruise passengers a year)
–    Bringing health and happiness (Development) to the developing world.

*A modern airship, traveling at 225 km/h would complete the trip from Matadi to Bukavu in 7 hours.

UPLIFT: The Scenarios

2 Apr

Organizational elements:  UPLIFT Transport, UPLIFT Rescue, Orchestar Logistics and Coordination, UPLIFT Engineering.

Partners: UNOCHA, UNHRD, UNDP

wfp_logoifrc_logo_originalmsf1oxfamvrgreen2highres

Players: Red Cross, World Food Program, Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontieres, ECHO Flight

Technical elements: Airbus L450 XLR Dirigible, Boeing JHL-900 Helistat

August 15th 2025

In 2012, UPLIFT began as a UN pilot program to test a radical idea: a not for profit transportation service, mandated to serve the developing world, and humanitarian relief organizations.  Beginning by servicing ECHO-Flight, the European Union’s humanitarian air service in the Horn of Africa/Eastern and Zaire (formerly the Democratic Republic of Congo).  From bases in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya, UPLIFT offered low cost air transport capacity to aid agencies operating relief and development programs in Somalia, north-eastern Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo(now Zaire).  Personnel and cargo were transported aboard 5 light dirigibles and 2 heavy lift helistats.

HApFrica – 2nd Half Thoughts.

2 Apr

rwandan_refugee_camp_in_ea-copy

Even after a year of this project, I still have no idea how to improve situations in the developing world.  All I know is that things are neither as simple, nor as complex as they say.  My suspicion is that they’ll figure it out.  They’ll have to.  What I hope is that we leave them alone long enough to figure things out.  This may or may not mark the end of my foray in development…

At the end of this semester I will have a document, a proposal, which I will take to whomever and wherever I can.  Learning outcomes as follow:

– Cold calling lvl up

– scenario writing

– More project management experience

– Negotiation skills lvl up.

– Realized I need outlets.  Being in my own head all the time is not good.

– “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” – Siddhartha