Sarah Shewey

CEO/Founder, Happily


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How can we make the world even smaller, more accessible? *A TEDActive Mobility Project Question*

The TEDActive Mobility Project will explore ways to reduce the cost, time and necessity of driving. We'll look at the barriers to mobilizing local communities, and examine new tools that can make our world more accessible.

At TEDActive2011 in Palm Springs, an amazing group of individuals came together as a group to come up with a simple micro-action solution for making our world a much smaller place. After a quick 36 hour period of time, they recommended that we make an effort to be a bigger person and "SOCIAL UP." They're sharing their Social Up experiences in the TEDActive mobility project page (click on link above), and invite you to share your ideas in the TED Conversations space. Please tag TEDActiveMOB in the "topics" section below for us all to join you!

What would be your micro-solution to making the world more accessible?

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    Apr 26 2011: How about start with the small things first, then continue to the larger matters for example free interne,t this to me is not a problem, the problem is paying for internet access that is SLOW and hinders the experience of going online. Once we have a fast enough connection every where then we can concentrate and enhancing the online communites to entice more people to surf the online world.
  • May 14 2011: Couple of weeks ago I changed my old car. Before leaving it I did check the car trip computer: in one year time I did cumulate 435hous! more than 18 days. I drove 18 nights and 18 days in one year time!!! in many cases we don’t realize the efforts and the time we spend in doing things because we do them a bit at the time… But we are all aware that we and our communities are spending a lot in transportation. And many of us also clearly understand and share the interest in reducing it and its effects. In mine opinion, first of all, we need to clearly measure or quantify the problem: How much is our transportation spending? How much our family spend in transportation? How much a company spends, considering all employees transfers? We can calculate the average distance that a company or store spend in employees and/or suppliers travels, for example. Depending on the level of impact (pollution/waste of time/cost), for instance, a different criteria to consider distances totally or partially could be adopted. Might be a way to make communities aware… and after, also, to support companies (applying policies, like some governments are doing, to penalize car makers in proportion to the emission levels of the cars models they sell) in reducing their transportation spending; appealing them to consider solutions such as: engage people that resides close to their working places, choose local suppliers, adopt new technologies for communication, incentive their personnel to use other solutions for transportation…
  • May 13 2011: I like the idea of socializing UPyour transportation. If you think about time as a non renewable source of energy in your life or equally wasted time as a polluting factor in your life then socializing your transportation woould also be a way to make your life more sustainable. In fact it could be a way to regenerate time otherwise lost or polluted (that would keep Michele happy I guess). Think about the time you spend on taxis, planes, trains and cars in which you don't really achieve much, time in which you try to work on the phone or listen to something interesting on the radio, but most of the time you would like to be already we you are going (since I was a kid I dreamt about teletransportation). Meeting new people would certainly be more interesting and all that with all the benefits of CO2 reduction etc.
    But I guess is that people like to be flexible with his car and his commute. So bus, trains and all the rest should be more flexible to accomodate this needs.
    Technology should help. How many times on a bus ride you would like the bus to stop just 200 mtrs before the turn or teh actual stop? There must be a way to make the bus system more flexible. A bus that would ride where his passengers wants to go and comes around where you are. A bit like how ryan air fill its planes, or addison lee picks people up by sending a text "your car driver has arrived".. putting the two together should make it work. Don't know how, but I live that to the clever engineers of this world.
  • May 11 2011: It is clear that the interdependent challenges of matching economic growth with environmental improvements and improved social responsibility can only be fully realised through a more collaborative approach. Governments, fuel companies, associated industries and end users must also play their part. Working together could bring to enjoy the benefits of personal mobility pursuing solutions that minimise the cost of motoring to society and the environment. There is no single solution that can guarantee sustainable and diffuse mobility: a combination of complementary solutions is indicated. Running with fuel from renewable sources (like waste and various biomass) could be one of the most interesting. In Italy for example we enjoy ample availability of this source of renewable energy, but we do not yet utilize it. Organic waste is not collected separately and thus inevitably ends up in dumps and landfill, where it contributes to greenhouse gas production. It is estimated that in Italy waste and biomass of agro-industrial origin could be used to produce 8 billion cubic meters of methane per year, which would account for about 10% of the country’s natural gas needs. Cars running on methane could also run on biomethane , so the technology both of the engines and of the refueling stations is already there. Emissions from the life cycle of biomethane are quite low. As it is produced from organic waste, it eliminates a source of pollution, because if left untreated, that waste would decompose naturally. When these effects are calculated together, the resulting savings in CO2 emissions are greater than 100%. Biomethane could also provide energy independence and complementarity with the conventional fuels in the short-mid term. So , why don’ t run on renewables? Why do not push for bio-natural gas in transportation?
  • Apr 27 2011: The world could be become smaller and more accessible if the technology could transform from usage of text to speech. If people could use their speech which is searchable, indexable, translatable, it would get the whole world on a single platform. The amount of time that is required to translate the thought into text is humongous and repelling. Added to the limitations on the input device like a keyboard that requires a person to acquire some skill can completely change the original thought into something else.

    If one could just speak in the air and the technology could capture the spoken sentence by its voice imprint, do all the processing and forward it to the intended recipient, perhaps then the world will the smallest and instantly accessible.
  • Apr 13 2011: As I understand the question, You're asking about the WORLD and how to make it smaller whereas, most of the comments posted deal with mostly local issues.
    There are several things that must be done first. A free exchange of ideas and education should be a worldwide priority. Next, politics and religion should be done away with. More people have died for those two things than any other in history. Medical care should be readily available to everyone, no matter where you're from or if you have insurance or not. All national borders should be eliminated. Every household should be energy self-sufficient, whether it's from solar panels or wind turbines or any other source of non-poluting energy. Cars, trucks and busses should be converted from fossil fuels to hydrogen for long distance or electric power for local commuting.
    When I said to do away with politics, I don't mean to do away with government. We'll still need laws for a while yet. When I said do away with religion, I don't mean you should stop your worship services. There are those that need the support of their god.
    This is only the shadow of my vision of "Utopia". Maybe someday portions of this will become a reality and bring to fruition the topics of conversations that were held in basements and bedrooms four decades and more ago. John Lennon had it right in his song, "Imagine".
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      Apr 27 2011: Great vision, John. I like your Utopia. Even getting closer to these ideas would be an amazing transformation away from hyper-local bickering to global hand-in-hand partnerships.
  • Apr 11 2011: 1. Create a tutoring model (for profit or non-profit) which begins to tutor "Elders" on social networking.....they are becoming a more disconnected and larger group by the day. 2. Identify seniors who live in the community and who have vehicles which are more than likely barely used. 3. Create a model whereby neighborhood "pods" can be developed AROUND those seldom-used vehicles in a manner similar to zip car. Locals are able to have greater access to vehicles for local community trips, jobs are created via administration of the program, and seniors begin to receive additional income (make it tax free to seniors) from others "renting/borrowing" their car.
  • May 14 2011: The amazing thing about the internet is that I do not think any one person understands how it really works. It is somewhat like the magic of Wikipedia but on a grander scale.
    I recall first when transistors were discovered noone really understood why they worked but used them to create amazing things.
    I think the phenomenon of cyberspace is a miracle. It is like feeding the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes. It is a social miracle. Cooperation and sharing is the secret to making it a better world and creating and educational miracle.
    It is possible that it is happening right before our eyes.
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    May 6 2011: During the TEDActive project on Mobility we tried to see what made the world smaller but also what made each person bigger, as both should help us making it more accessible. Nice to see some of the comments on the thread that make the world smaller (socialising, sharing, trust) and some make people bigger (better health, education, connectivity).

    Our micro action, “how can we social up transportation?” is born from the insight that increasingly we move for social reasons (meet with family and friends, work, events) and less so for transactional reasons that are being covered by technology, that’s helping us to do from home many of the things we don’t like or can’t be bothered to do, like bureaucracy, going to the supermarket or renting a movie. If we make our transport more social, we bring the world closer to us not only when we arrive, but also when we are travelling.

    A great initiative in this area is the Walk to School campaign, run by the UK charity Living Streets, that walks 1.6 million children to school each year, avoids traffic jams and saves money and CO2. And I am sure it makes children feel they are bigger!
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    May 5 2011: Reading some of the comments below, I must live in Utopia. My commute is ten minutes. I enjoy the fresh air as I walk past two parks, and the British Museum of Central London to get to my destination. I stop at the swimming pool just beyond half way to do training each morning. I realize I am lucky, I am very lucky. The point I would like to make, is the "ways" and "ideas" of reducing the cost, time and necessity of driving exist and don't need to be re-designed. (Although new ideas welcome.) Many of us enjoy the world as we are already have that. The ideas need to be spread.

    The concept I would spread for this discussion is at the tower as a set of villages, no longer vertical spawl. A 3D planned city has every potential to make our cities smaller, local and much more enjoyable.

    Happy brainSTORMING!
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    May 1 2011: I think we need to take a look at the haves and the have-not's.
    It seems to me that the goal is to help those that are without connection to get connected.
    In my view extending accessibility into the remote, poor, disenfranchised areas of the world is more important than making it easier for us in the middle and on the top to interact faster, cheaper, better.

    I think if we establish a scholarship/endowment to pay for selected teachers, artists, community leaders in the disenfranchised areas to attend TED events, provide computing technology to increase connectability, and provide a virtual support communiity to the scholarship recipients to sustain progress and growth, then we will be making the world a smaller, more accessible place.

    Thank you for posing the question.
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    Apr 27 2011: Like many people in the US, I don't live in a city, but do work in one. I have a long commute of 120 miles, which is more the exception than the rule, I know. In my case, public transportation to work is extremely pricey ( > US$100 round-trip) and also somewhat unreliable (lengthy delays + connecting trains), so instead I drive. I feel pretty guilty about it, but because of where I live I don't see much choice. The only solution that makes sense is to move into a city. Working on that!! More people moving to cities and doing our best to support their existing transportation infrastructures seems a relatively easy change to make.
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    Apr 27 2011: To me, making the world "smaller" means making it more accessible. Through cloud computing and a bit of comfort and trust, organizations around the world can actually have a large impact on this. However, many are choosing not to participate on a global scale. For example, one of the strangest incongruities between access to the cloud and understanding its power is with popular employment-seeking websites. These job-hunting sites collect and display jobs from around the world. However, many (if not most) of the listed jobs state or imply "local candidates only".

    So, companies can make the world smaller by hiring more global telecommuting employees. Companies should consider embrace the people of the entire world as possible employees. Remote workers can add tremendous value without additional overhead because they require no office space, no or reduced travel costs, and low or reduced travel time. Employees sourced from around the world offer diversity, are naturally tech and social media savvy, are more accessible, flexible, and probably happier employees, too.

    With cloud computing, social media, Skype, and numerous other communication and collaborative work environments at the world's disposal, the only excuse for not embracing telecommuting is entrenchment in old ideas, resistance to change, lack of vision or imagination, or ignorance.
  • Apr 21 2011: -Make it standard practice to use OpenID and have more companies share between each other (with permission of course)
    -Use OpenID to keep government and health records together as well
    -Rework privacy laws and regulation so companies and agencies can share without consequence (with your permission of course) but have huge penalties for using any information to harm an individual or group the information is about. Sharing is about productivity and for the benefit of consumers not for profit.
    -Google should start including foreign search results that are translated to the account holders language. I personally believe international commerce would increase exponentially. (Currently this is an option but it's still buggy, better translation of pages is needed as well.)

    Not an expert on anything, just some thoughts.
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    Apr 20 2011: With regards to public transport- Here's one idea I've been kicking around in my head. As a caveat- it does at first seem like a huge and unworkable scheme- but I feel like this is what TED is all about!

    Instead of people purchasing and running cars, they could invest that money (or a part of it at least) in a transport cooperative with other people in their city. Once a critical mass is obtained this cooperative could run a service which maximises benefits for its members/owners. Members would then have a huge financial incentive to use their own transport service, and would have a say about how it operates. The transport service could extend beyond traditional forms (buses/ trains) to include cycle hire, car pooling and car-sharing arrangements- it could even go as far as chartered flights at peak demand times, like holidays. In this way there would never be a question of transport tickets being too high (as any profits are returned to the people using the service). It could be managed as a non-profit by a professional management team who's responsibility is to the cooperative, being at the same time the owners and the users of the service, and the members could easily add their input through the increased efficiency of web- based communication, and through democratic governance.

    In my opinion, this would not only encourage people to use public transport but would also engage people with wider transport issues and help to reduce the overall environmental and social cost of a transport system based around personal cars.

    I would love to hear any feedback or suggestions on this idea. Thanks!
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        Apr 20 2011: Hi Richard,

        I was thinking primarily of people who, like me, live in city-fringe suburbs in cities with relatively under-developed public transport networks, where price is prohibitive due to lack of a "critical mass" of use. In Auckland, New Zealand, where I currently live, public transport is not yet seen as a an economically superior option to driving as they still have to keep ticket prices relatively high due to low passenger numbers- the whole paradox of "critical mass". As a result, government spending is still concentrated on roading, and there is still a culture of individual car ownership. I guess the biggest difference between my scheme, and current public transport schemes is that the users of the service would have a more direct financial incentive to use their own asset. I also think their is room for creativity with it, such as including car sharing, car pooling and cycle hire, within a more holistic and integrated approach to transport. I would also support greater use of tolling and congestion charges (you can probably tell I'm a fan of user-pays and market mechanisms).
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      May 14 2011: I really like the idea of expanding the Zip Car model, to air travel. If the interest could be generated. this could be an amazing endeavor to make the world a smaller place.
  • Apr 13 2011: Compulsary car pooling on high density area...
    No more traffic jams made up of one person driving car...
    My two cents worth today...
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    Mar 30 2011: I think we could provide free internet access to everyone and start public carpooling sites. Besides that, the public transportation fare could be A LOT cheaper, especially in New York.
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      Mar 30 2011: Not only cheaper: public transportation should be more confortable and entertaining. It has to be more attractive than cars in every way. But how? Well, let's imagine if you could watch a TED talk on a TV inside a bus on your way to work, for example. In subway stations here in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we have cultural events every week. Investing in public transportation's security and infrastructure would be helpful too.
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      Mar 31 2011: Free internet access? Cheap transport? Well, you see governments do not have any interest in doing this. They are aware of the fact that you don't have a choice. What is more, people will start to demand more and more things to be cheaper and free. Who would alow that? By the way, stupid people are easy to control. Noone wants you to be wise or something. They need you to work for them,nothing more.
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        Apr 4 2011: I think most people would realise the govt's have no interest in this but the idea of TED is to discuss ideas and ideals etc without all the naysaying that goes on by the negative people Stoyu.