Tag Archives: infrastructure

Flying Cars: The Future Is Now

Image of bright yellow flying car taxi.As I was driving in congested freeway traffic last weekend I realized that one of the benefits of autonomous or self-driving vehicles is they won’t have to slow down to gawk at accidents. Eliminating that human impulse alone should help smooth traffic flow. I have been thinking so much lately about autonomous vehicles that I was unaware of the development of other new types of cars until a colleague prompted me to take a closer look at flying cars. What I found just might send me to my local airport for flight lessons.

Flying Car School

The first flying car school in North America recently opened in Roosevelt, Utah. Students will learn in the PAL-V Liberty which is produced by Dutch company PAL-V. This particular vehicle can drive on a city street and then go airborne after taxiing down a short road or runway. The company is securing FAA and European approval to introduce the first commercial version in 2018. Flying one will require a full pilot’s license because of the weight of the vehicle. A thrust engine powers the flying car, along with gyro blades that help with lift and to keep it airborne. Once on the ground, the blades and rudder fold up so that it can navigate city streets and highways.

I am not sure of the maximum distance this flying car can travel on one tank of gas, either on the ground or in the air, but I am starting to think about personal applications of this technology. It would be nice to reach a rural site without having to navigate miles of gravel roads. You could also shorten a city commute considerably if you could take off from the road in front of your house and land in front of your office.

Options

Another flying car in testing or limited production is the AeroMobil, based out of the Czech Republic. They have been flying/driving prototypes since 2014 and are close to introducing a production model. Another option is the Terrafugia Transition which is being developed by a private company out of Woburn, MA. The company expects the first production vehicle in 2019. The Transition is described as a folding-wing, two seat, roadable aircraft. Even more exciting is the Terrafugia TF-X, which is billed as a four seat plug-in/hybrid electric flying car with vertical take off and landing capability and computer controlled flight. It is not expected to come to market until 2023 at the earliest.

Infrastructure

I am very excited about the possibility of flying cars in the near future, but there are a lot of infrastructure questions still to be answered. First of all, what classification are they given by the various world flight administrations? Are they airplanes or sport aircraft? Flight certification and licenses are different for each. At what elevation do they fly? Just above the ground or at 1000 feet? Are there particular areas that will be set aside for takeoff and landing, or can you launch anywhere? Will you have to check in with the nearest control tower before leaving for the office? These and many more questions require answers before we can start flying to work. I am hoping that brilliant minds are working on these issues so that the infrastructure is ready when the first cars are launched.

Thoughts

“The Jetsons” and “Back To The Future” have formed my view of the flying car. In both of those depictions, vehicles traveled in lanes in the air, just as we do on the ground. I think we can get more creative than that but it will take a lot of thought to make personal air travel safe and feasible. I am already thinking about the combination of flying cars and autonomous vehicles. That would be the ultimate in efficiency and convenience.

Are we ready for flying cars? They appear to be coming soon to a road or grassy field near you. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Tech Matters in Emerging Economies

Emerging nations often have the advantage in infrastructure deployments and upgrades because they have no legacy infrastructure to replace: they can just start from scratch. Legacy infrastructure can stifle innovation because of real and perceived barriers. In researching this subject, I questioned how much technology can help emerging countries that may struggle to house and feed their citizens and/or refugees from nearby countries. I would like to spotlight the work of Nethope, which aims to expand tech to lift nations from poverty and provide opportunities for growth through innovation.

How Much Tech?

In 1989 my wife and I toured Egypt and we traveled through a small village with basic concrete houses. We watched as the residents made their way to fields in the morning to harvest the crops. In the evening they returned to homes that had no electricity, modern lighting, or communications. They filtered water from the nearby Nile. This was their daily routine. I compared that with my role at the time as a computer administrator and realized the absurdity of my work in contrast to this simple everyday life. They had no use for the work that I did, which would not help move that cart to and from the field and would probably not increase their harvest or enhance their lives. My skills and knowledge were useless to them.

Should we concentrate on bringing technology to impoverished nations and villages? How would technology benefit people whose lives revolve around providing basic needs? Can it help in providing clean water, basic health care, communications and education? Which problems are we trying to solve through innovation? These are questions I no longer assume I know how to answer.

Nethope

Nethope is a non-profit organization dedicated to matching tech firms and individuals with non-governmental organizations to apply innovation to solve problems in emerging nations. Much of their focus is on wireless connectivity and building alternative energy sources to power the infrastructure. They have provided portable cellular hot spots for Syrian refugees to connect them with family members back home and with aid organizations. It also might enable young people to continue their studies, although sporadically, through online education programs.

A similar project established internet connectivity in a refugee camp in Kenya. Refugees flooded there to escape famine, drought, and conflict. This camp has become the fourth largest population center in Kenya and is a temporary home for thousands. As in the Syrian refugee crisis, it is hoped that the youth in particular will be able to continue their education through remote courses. In another area of Kenya, wi-fi hotspots were established with unused television whitespace. This might give villagers an opportunity to improve their lives through education and expanded business opportunities.

Coordination

One of the services provided by Nethope is technology coordination between many non-governmental aid organizations. Each organization tries to aid in various ways and sometimes they end up stepping over each other, particularly in areas such as technology infrastructure. Nethope and their partners provide expertise and coordination, whether it be a temporary crisis or an ongoing project. This approach allows the other aid organizations to focus on their strengths providing for basic necessities.

Thoughts

Has technology become a basic necessity or is it still a luxury? In an emergency, where does it fall on the list of priorities? I live near an earthquake fault and try to be prepared for a potential disaster. On the one hand, I can’t eat my smartphone, but on the other hand it would come in handy should my house suddenly become an island. I applaud the efforts of Nethope and other organizations that share their expertise with those in need. It is good to provide basic necessities and basic communications. I wish them well on their quest.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Information Umbrella’s Best Blogs of 2014

Happy New Year from the AIM faculty and staff!

Our blog writers’ curiosity took some surprising turns in 2014, which sparked us to ask what resonated with you readers. Below is our list of most popular blogs of the year, with a special challenge to astrologers to make sense of the odd coincidence involving publication dates.

Hand holds the world#5 Our Shrinking World

AIM blogger Kelly Brown ponders the question “With everything we have in place, are we really tapping the potential of a shrinking world or still limiting ourselves to the familiar surroundings and friends to supply us with answers and advice?” From April 15, 2014.

parade
#4 So We Had a Parade

Guest blogger Tim Williams, a 2000 AIM graduate, an adjunct instructor for the AIM Program, and COO of Sesame Communications, shares his thoughts on his experience in organizational culture and team building. From July 15, 2014.

digital vortex#3 The Dark Side of the Deep Web

Kelly Brown’s curiosity takes him deep into the layers of the Web. Think onions and murky depths. From April 8, 2014.

overstuffed garage#2 A Terabyte of Storage Space: How Much is Too Much?

How much storage is enough? Kelly Brown calculates just what will fit into 1,000 gigabytes. From July 8, 2014.

 

child using computer#1 Too Many Coders?

Are there too many coders to meet the needs of the future? Not enough? That question resonated with more Information Umbrella readers than any other in 2014, rocketing this blog post to top spot for the year. From February 18, 2014.

 

What do you want to read about in 2015? Send us a message with your ideas.

Don’t miss The Information Umbrella next week when Kelly Brown scores a touchdown with a timely topic!

Tech Heroes Among Us

People standing with hero shadowsThis week I have thinking about the tech heroes among us. You may be one or you may know one. This is the person that helps you get a new app on your phone or customize your LinkedIn account. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, technology is not always user friendly, although it is improving. Interfaces are not always intuitive even though we now have dedicated user experience engineers. Until we get to that perfect understanding of every app, tool, and device every time, we need the tech hero.

Celebrating the Tech Hero

Cloud services hosting company Carpathia has a mechanism for nominating tech heroes. The chosen few receive a backpack filled with things that tech heroes need such as a notebook computer and toolkit, even energy drinks. Carpathia is also hosting Tech Hero events in various cities around the country to meet and celebrate tech heroes. The purpose is to recognize those unsung heroes that keep us going every day (and to sell cloud services to those that know exactly what that is).

Who Are These People?

I have found that tech heroes are not always the people with the deepest knowledge of technology but those people who have taken the time to understand the logic of computers and applications AND have the ability to explain it to the rest of us. That is sometimes a rare combination of talents. Perhaps there should be a designated position of “Tech Hero” within an organization. That way, the current tech heroes—currently just over the wall or around the corner—can get their real work done.

Who Is Your Tech Hero?

Tell me who your tech heroes are. I would like to recognize them in future blogs and give them their fifteen minutes of fame. Is it an IT guru, coworker, spouse, son or daughter? Or is it you? Add a comment to this blog naming your tech hero and explaining why they are so awesome. They may be quietly performing miracles, but it is time we honor them for the very necessary service that they provide. Let me know.

 

About Kelly BrownAuthor Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Clean Slate, Fresh Start: Letting Go of Legacy Systems

I write this blog from beautiful Dubai. As I expand my understanding of this region, I marvel at the lack of legacy infrastructure, both computing and community. The United Arab Emirates were only formed in 1971 and Dubai was a founding member. The region obviously existed before 1971 but only as a loose band of tribes. It was another ten years or so before Dubai took off and took advantage of their lucrative port position and the discovery of oil. In effect, the infrastructure shared by two million people and countless visitors is only thirty years old.

What would you do?

Dubai is a very modern city and now attracts ten million visitors a year and expects to increase that to twenty million by 2020. The second airport was just opened this week as the first airport has reached capacity. There is constant construction to keep up with the demand of commerce and residential growth. There are also new roads constantly under construction to meet demand.

The emergence of this region seems unencumbered by legacy infrastructure and it brings me to the question: what would my computing environment look like if I could start fresh and not be held back by legacy systems and legacy networking? What if I could deploy the newest servers, newest applications, and fastest networking? Am I being held back by the structure I already have in place?

Examples

In Dubai, they control automobile speeding by a series of cameras. If you are unfortunate enough to be caught speeding (I know this secondhand only, thank goodness), you will see a flash and then receive a text message with instructions on how to pay your fine. So many systems have to work together to make this succeed. First of all, the camera infrastructure has to be in place. Second, the motor vehicle database has to have complete information tied to each automobile registration. Third, the driver has to have the capability to receive the message and the ability to comply with the instructions. Because they were able to start with a clean slate, they were able to develop this system.

Thoughts

Think about your own situation and ask yourself what is holding you back. Not everyone gets the chance to do a Greenfield project and start everything from scratch. Do you have legacy systems and applications in your business that cost you more than the value they provide? Would it be a prudent investment to finally retire those apps or that hardware and migrate? Would you save money and headaches in the long run? It is something to consider.

Now, I take this metaphor of legacy systems one step further and ask myself: are there beliefs, ideas, processes, and activities in my personal life that are legacy and holding me back? The answer for me is a resounding yes. Is there something that I can do to move off this personal legacy platform and move on to 2.0? Yes. Would my life be more efficient if I were able to move beyond these legacy activities and on to fresh thinking? That is my challenge and I want to make it your challenge this week as well. What can you do to start moving towards 2.0?

Let me know how you are progressing in your journey.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Anatomy of a Startup – Part 2

On the heels of my last blog post about the opportunities for a startup, I have been thinking more about the technology infrastructure it takes to launch that startup. It turns out that it is easier than ever, thanks to managed services and distributed computing. There are a lot of very smart people willing to provide services that will help get your new product or service off the ground. In the last blog I talked about the three things you need for a startup: a great idea, awesome people, and a funding source. This week I want to focus on the work behind the curtain.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

There is very little need to deploy your own big iron any more. You can purchase and configure servers in the cloud easily. This gives you the infrastructure that you need so that your developers can create your new service or product and provide the storage necessary for all of those tasks. One of the big benefits of cloud- sourced infrastructure is scalability. You can deploy as much or as little of these resources as you need. When starting out, you can contract a small amount of services and as you grow, the infrastructure can grow with you. The set up time and learning curve are also eliminated, as well as the risk of physical equipment failure. Some vendors in this area are: Amazon Web Services, CA Technologies, HP, and GoGrid.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

If your new product or service is primarily digital, then this will allow you to deploy development, testing, and production platforms for your developers. Again, there is no need to deploy actual hardware at your startup site to have platforms available. Deploy as little or as much as you need and, again, it is scalable and additional resources can be deployed on demand. Vendors in this area are: Amazon Web Services, Google, and OpenStack.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Finally, the top layer. These are the applications that you and your new employees use every day such as customer relationship management and tracking, office applications, e-mail, accounting applications, and so on. These applications can all be maintained by others and accessed through an interface on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. There is no need to maintain your own computers and your own expertise, thanks to many, if not all of these day-to-day applications. Salesforce.com was one of the early pioneers in this growing field by hosting customer relationship management applications. Other established and emerging companies are SAP for on-demand enterprise resource planning and Financialforce.com to provide you with necessary finance applications, through the cloud.

Thoughts

It used to be that one of the drawbacks of starting a new company is that you had a lot of startup costs associated with procuring IT infrastructure and applications. Now, what was once a barrier is an advantage because you have no legacy IT to deal with. You can start fresh and easily deploy just the right level of services to meet your needs. This frees up you and your team to finally bring that great new product to a waiting market.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.