Let’s be honest, people are bad at conveying their ideas on what streets can look like. Thankfully there’s an open source project designed to help people remix their local streets and share it with others. The web based design tool Streetmix provides a simple drag and drop interface to rethink your local roads, you don’t need an urban planning degree to figure out what should go where. Give it a try, generate some images, and go talk to your community about making your neighbourhood more people-friendly from the street up.
Why does Streetmix exist?
When city planners seek input from community meetings from the public on streetscape improvements, one common engagement activity is to create paper cut-outs depicting different street components (like bike lanes, sidewalks, trees, and so on) and allow attendees to reassemble them into their desired streetscape. Planners and city officials can then take this feedback to determine a course of action for future plans. By creating an web-based version of this activity, planners can reach a wider audience than they could at meetings alone, and allow community members to share and remix each other’s creations.
The goal is to promote two-way communication between planners and the public, as well. Streetmix intends to communicate not just feedback to planners but also information and consequences of actions to the users that are creating streets. Kind of like SimCity did with its in-game advisors!
A funding campaign on IndieGoGo is focused on making an open-sourced robotic prosthetic hand. This is wonderful because the end product will be shared with everyone and the hand can be made essentially anywhere.
The Open Hand Project is open-source, which means all of the plans to make a robotic hand will be published online with no patents, anyone has the right to make their own and even sell it themselves. You’re funding the full development of the hand with the Open Hand Project, after that companies will be able to use the designs and sell the hands all over the world. This really helps get these devices out to developing countries and places where import taxes might otherwise increase the cost of distribution.
Colorado has a new permaculture and open sourced initiative taking shape and it look promising. The team is adding open source technology from hardware and software to a sustainable agriculture setup. On top of all of that they are also developing an open source business model!
This is an exciting project with the ultimate goal of having their setup to be replicated locally elsewhere.
“Open Tech Forever (OTF) is dedicated to developing new and improved, open source versions of modern and cutting-edge technologies. In the open source spirit, we create free, online, high quality educational resources demonstrating how to understand, redesign, and replicate our products. We cover not only the skills, designs and the train of thought behind the development process but also the facilities, tools, and materials that it takes to really make a variety of technologies. We develop and document open hardware, manufacture products for sale, and host public workshops to provide a hands-on learning experience for improved skill development and retention.”
Way back in 2008 I blogged on Open Source Ecology (OSE) which is an open source project to create tools and knowledge to build a fully sustainable village. The project has grown since then and they are going even further by designing tools that can be fabricated on site. Recently, they made a good video explaining more about what OSE is all about.