Tuesday 24 February 2015

Foresight - data, cars, bicycles, truth and wealth creation

An interesting article by Ivan Hurst (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bim-young-grow-ivan-hurstand an analogy that could be applied to many disruptive innovations. As Ivan makes clear converging technical and mass market demand and application(s) will create demand for Digital Information Management, Exchange, and Collaboration (DIMEC) from entirely different perspectives. Many of these I would expect we cannot imagine yet, but will undoubtedly be a catalyst for transforming our use and relationship with data rich, spatial measurement that is correlated with anything over time. Your points are well made.

Were the real innovations that created mass adoption of cars marketing, moving assembly lines and cheap oil? 
To be slightly controversial and off the point of the article, were the real innovations driving the growth in car uptake the car itself (internal combustion engine et al) and its application (personal freedom, convenience, range and economy) or the moving assembly lines, marketing and availability of cheap oil that brought it to the masses and paid for further innovation and prioritisation. This may be relevant as history is littered with suboptimal uptake of technology (VHS vs beta and automobile vs bicycle).

The sub-optimal development of cars beyond rationale thinking will take a long time to undo; the current age where we have sacrificed our thoroughfares and health to excessive pollution and parked vehicles in the interest of personal freedom and mobility will not be fully understood by future society 
‘Cars are integral to modern life. They account for 70% of all journeys not made on foot. They are cheaper, safer and more comfortable than ever before’ (http://www.economist.com/node/21563280) and yet their use in many developed economies is at last falling particularly in the younger generations. By contrast, world annual bicycle production has been accelerating since 1970 – when it was equal to auto production at 21m units per year – it is now running at over 120m units per year. The bicycle is by far and away the most efficient form of transport for speeds up to at least 20km/h – (http://www.withouthotair.com/c20/page_128.shtml). It is only now that dense urban areas are recognising the folly of over enabling access to limited road space capacity to private cars without any restraints. We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water and lose valuable knowledge as next generation DIMEC inevitably creates a pull towards solutions where the most wealth can be created.

Self evidently there are not more cars in the world than people!
A minor point - there are clearly not more cars in the world than people – although there are certain blogs expounding and repeating that myth. World annual car production (74% of all vehicle production) is currently at its highest level ever (circa 60m /year that is 50% higher than in 1999 – 40m /year). Even if you go back to 1886 and take 60m as the annual car production every year for the 129 years to 2015 that would only get us to 7.7 billion cars. There are 7.3bn people in the world today. The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers estimated that the 1 billion unit mark was reached in 2010 and 2.5 billion will not be reached until 2050 through growth led by China and India.

Rapid economic development and feelings of improved security and well-being are presumably still dependent on the consumption and production of vehicles
There was an interesting and telling article in the Huffington Post in 2011 (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/23/car-population_n_934291.html) when they reported that the world car population had topped 1 billion.  ‘China, along with the rapidly growing economies of India and Brazil, are leading the world in increased demand for cars. And these countries often express resentment when they perceive efforts to curb unsustainable growth as being unfriendly to their development. At this year's International Transport Forum, European speakers urged a renaissance in the use of bicycles as an alternative to cars. But representatives from China and India pointed out that their populations are currently in the process of shedding their bicycles in favour of more sophisticated transportation.  "The bike is better to get around in Beijing, but bicycle use is dropping fast due to poor air quality and the danger from car traffic," Tongji University professor Pan Haixiao said. Cycling is a miniscule thing," B.K. Chaturvedi of India's Planning Commission said. "That's not the future."

To answer your question - BIM will it grow? Yes but the next stages in its development will almost certainly be sub-optimal and it will take longer than 20 years to undo the downside of sub-optimal use.