Friday, September 19, 2008

Cool Technology of the Week

I work in the Longwood Medical Area of Boston. 150 years ago, the entire area was fens and cow pastures. Now it includes Beth Israel Deaconess, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's, Dana Farber, Joslin, Merck, and millions of square feet of research buildings. It also includes all the cars of the folks who work in these institutions, commuting on a two lane former cow path called Longwood Avenue.

Most of the year, I simply walk the mile between my Harvard office and CareGroup office. Walking a mile takes me 15 minutes. Driving a mile down Longwood can take 45 minutes.

I truly believe that the only solution to the traffic problem around the Longwood Medical Area is to eliminate cars completely. Longwood Avenue could be converted to a monorail track or even better a Point to Point Transportation System.

What's that you ask? Check out Skyweb Express

This technology, which does have a working alpha site, is a personalized mass transit "people mover" that runs continuously from the point of origin to the point of destination. It gets cars off the road, runs with greater energy efficiency than cars, and provides safe transportation for each passenger, taking them directly to their desired stop without having to stop needlessly along the way.

Since Boston has its share of cold, wet, and snowy weather, it's unrealistic to assume patients, clinicians and researchers will walk from point to point year round. Providing personalized mass transit such as the Skyweb Express would save time, energy, and frustration. Imagine the cost savings to the local economy of reducing 30 minutes from the commutes of the thousands of highly paid people working in the Longwood area.

At the moment, the various Boston Mass Transit agencies - MBTA or "T" and the Turnpike are all burdened by debt and unbalanced budgets, so change in the short term is unikely. However, as Longwood becomes increasingly "Manhattanized" with skyscraper research buildings, it's clear that commuting by car will soon become impossible and we'll need to investigate transportation technologies like SkyWeb. Hence it's the cool technology of the week.
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