Arkansas' population density in 2000.
Cities are growing, even in traditionally rural states like Arkansas.
West Little Rock at noon, locals know, is an adventure unto itself. The Chenal-Bowman-Markham-Shackleford loop at “high tide” — rush hour, lunch hour — can be tedious at best to navigate.
WLR, or “out west” in native parlance, often accommodates more people than seems physically possible. Little Rock, and whatever sprawl it may host, has nothing, however, on Mumbai.
The Christian Science Monitor reports on the world trend toward megacities (urban areas of 10 million or more), including what most Americans know as Bombay, and how experts believe by 2050 roughly 70 percent of the world’s population will live in them.
Sometime in 2007, for the first time in human history, more people began to live within the cacophonous swirl of cities than in rural hamlets or on countryside farms.
As farms dwindle and technology requires fewer people to work them, man is migrating to increasingly larger urban areas to find work. Innovation will be critical to overcoming the challenges inherent in such a trend.
In the “developed” countries of the West, this trend had been building since the Industrial Revolution, which sparked, relatively quickly, the exponential growth of cities seen today. The quest for “efficiency” and the corresponding divisions of labor generated technological innovations that obliterated the need for farm laborers and local artisans. This drove populations from the country to the city over time and transformed the plow and the hoe into mere tools for backyard gardeners.
Today, on average, 3 out of 4 people living in modern industrialized states are already building their lives within an urban area – a ratio that will jump to more than 5 in 6 by 2050. By contrast, today in the least-developed regions of the world, more than 2 out of 3 people still eke out a living in a rural area. For these people, even the slumdog existence in places like Dharavi can offer more opportunities than their villages ever could. And within these developing regions, according to UN-HABITAT, cities are gaining an average of 5 million new residents – per month.
Will Arkansas look remotely anything like it does now in 2050? Our state is becoming more urban — less rural, anyway — by the census. Will 2050 find metro centers in northwest and central Arkansas surrounded by acres of hills and farmland, perhaps managed by robots?
The Arkansas 2020 report, produced for the General Assembly in 2007, projects the “changing demographics and related challenges facing Arkansas’ state government in 2020.” It says that 56.7 percent of the state’s population lived in urban areas in 2000, and estimates that figure will be 61 percent by 2020.
How will innovation adapt to meet the demands of an increasingly urban population? Will innovation’s greater challenge be to keep those who resist the movement toward cities “on the grid”?
The iPad: Game changer or passing fad? Arkansas innovators and entrepreneurs, let us know what you think.
Accio‘s Steve Hankins thinks, like it or not, the iPad is a game changer. Here’s an excerpt from his commentary this week in Arkansas Business:
While all of the criticisms of the iPad are technically correct, the point they make is that the technology status quo is again being threatened. This latest threat has finally caused the core technology people to rise up from their trees and get a view of the forest. And they don’t like what they see.
Besides criticism, what’s their response?
Every day it seems there is a new announcement or discussion of the latest “iPad killer” device. These devices will multi-task. They can be taken apart and put back together. Most of them will run some version of Microsoft Windows, because it is the industry standard. You will be able to hack them and write software for them without the handcuffs of some store reviewing your work.
What most technology critics fail to understand is this simple concept: Most people want to use technology, not work on technology.
The convergence of the major trends in computing is changing the world that most technology people love into one that they are not so familiar with. Devices like the iPad do not seem to require the intervention of a technology person to enable the owner of the device to actually use it.
I view the iPad as just another example of the changes taking place. The iPad is another “mobility” device. It doesn’t really replace a true laptop. It won’t replace your desktop. It does replace most of what people do on a netbook.
The iPad – with processor power, a much larger screen and better graphics – is a more robust interface to the cloud computing world than a smartphone. It can serve as a front end to software applications much better than a smartphone and about as well as a laptop.
Simply put, unless you are doing hardcore word processing, spreadsheets, data analysis or CAD on your laptop, you can probably make do with an iPad.
Check out the full commentary here (and more from Steve on entrepreneurs and the cloud, and other relevant issues, here) and let us know what you think of the iPad, and whether or not you think it’s a game changer or a passing fad.
Grace Manufacturing's pizza slicing device, a public service if there ever was one.
Arkansas patents issued in April ran the gamut from sunburn prevention to fluid decontamination.
INOV8 retrains its focus on Arkansas patents by bringing back the patent of the month, and the choice for April was an easy one.
While new strains of soybeans and flexible dentures are all well and good, none of that would matter a whole lot without……yes, pizza. You know you were thinking it.
The patent of the month for April — local patents are updated through May 4 here — is Grace Manufacturing’s pizza slicing device.
Note the innovative handle that allows for a stronger grip, enabling the slicer to apply more pressure when dividing his pie by eight and thus ensuring a better eating experience for everyone.
How many times have you reached down to claim a slice, only to have the bottom half stick to its neighbor, effectively ripping off half of the neighboring slice?
(Actually, that’s a good thing as it empowers one to go ahead and take both slices. Unless, of course, circumstances call for decorum and the handling of one slice at a time. Then it can be messy and not so good for the poor sap stuck with the mangled slice.)
Any instrument related to the consumption of pizza is a winner in our book. Speaking of which, lunchtime approaches….and it’s noon somewhere.
Posted in Intellectual Property
on May 5th, 2010
Innovation is widely courted as an economic driver, a jobs-creation engine.
This satellite image taken on Monday by ESA, courtesy of Zimbio, shows the core of the spill off the Louisiana coast.
In the case of the massive Gulf oil spill and leak, innovation is being counted on as a major component to the remedy.
Already, one innovative method has been credited with slowing the leak. An oil dispersant being used by BP at the site of the seabed gusher has slowed the stream, reports say.
The dispersant is produced by Nalco of Napierville, Ill., and BP has cited its effectiveness in breaking down the oil into droplets that can be broken down further naturally.
The spill, Christian Science Monitor reports, actually is serving as a test ground for high-tech cleanup methods:
As the Deepwater Horizon cleanup effort is demonstrating, many of the current methods of cleaning up oil spills are decidedly low-tech.
At least 70 response vehicles have fanned out in the Gulf and are using conventional physical containment methods such as floating tubes called booms and skimmers that slurp up mixed oil and water from the sea surface.
Tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals called dispersants that break the crude oil down into fine droplets for dilution (and eventual breakdown by oceanic microbes) have also been sprayed thus far.
Dispersants have proven far more effective than skimmers, which may only be able to soak up 10 percent of the spill, the Coast Guard said today.
Controlled burns of patches of oil are also set to start tomorrow, an approach sometimes adopted when containment and recovery become impossible.
Beneath the ocean, robots are trying but so far failing to fix the valve that would shut off the oil leaking from pipes that once connected to the Deepwater Horizon rig that caught fire on April 22.
BP, owner of the rupturing oil reservoir under the ocean floor, has said it will begin drilling an 18,000-foot (5,486 meters) relief well tomorrow, in part to relieve pressure from the main well. But the $100 million operation will take months.
Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 1.6 million gallons of oil have gushed forth from the seabed underneath BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig following the April 20 explosion that killed 11 people. Some experts are saying the impact of the spill won’t be as bad as originally thought. From Zimbio:
The British firm’s share price came under renewed pressure this morning even though it was revealed that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may not lead to the ‘unprecedented environmental disaster’ forecast by President Obama.
Scientists said Its ultimate impact will depend on a long list of variables, including weather, ocean currents, the type of oil and how quickly the gusher is sealed off.
Marine biologist Quenton Dokken, executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, said: ‘The sky is not falling – we’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.’