Do we need rideshare or Superhighways?

The information superhighway was a popular term used throughout the 90s to refer to a digital communication system, which eventually became the Internet as we know it.

The term has been pensioned off.  To all intents and purposes, the job’s done! Well, it could be a bit faster…

Excuse me can we do some maths?

Let us assume an HD movie is about 1.5 hours long and 1.5Gb in size, so if watched in real time, would need to be transferred at 1Gb per hour or 1,000 (Mbytes) x 8 (bits in a byte) = 8,000 megabits in 3,600 seconds = 2.2. In the local patois we will need a line speed of 2.2Mbps.

All good. Even here in South Africa. The 3G network is faster at 4Mbps. 4G (LTE) is way faster clocking in above 15Mbps. Copper is even faster than that (40Mbps), if no-one steals it and fibre-optic can easily exceed 100Mbps.

But what if a thousand people want to stream a movie. Or ten thousand or a million people? We just expect ‘the’ network to cope and given a year or two it probably will. That’s very impressive.

Meanwhile, and despite a thousand year head start, the other slightly less super highway or road network as it is known creaks, groans and grinds to a complete standstill with regularity and only appears to be getting worse.

What is to be done?

Unfortunately an upgrade from tarmac to fibre-optic wont help unless we all convert ourselves into beams of light, which is all very ‘Matrix’, but not very likely. OR we could just build more roads.

Most Road Authorities know that the solution is NOT to keep building more roads, even if we could afford to, or if we had the space. The solution is to make better use of the road network that we have and in simple terms making better use comprises two main objectives.

  • Understanding how the road network is used
  • Reducing the number of cars with one person in them; the single occupancy vehicle (SOV) as it’s known in technical terms

Every so often, things align; the need to burn less fuel, the need to reduce carbon emissions, the need to ease congestion on our roads, the necessity to reduce our blood pressure, the will of the people enacted through the will of Government.

A seismic event in technology can often provide the catalyst.  We’re working on that.

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