Smart cars, civic innovation and makers

Todays destination was Columbus, Ohio for a mix of disruptive technology, urban regeneration and a maker organisation.


If you don’t know what these are – you should because Telsa is changing cars and driving as we know it.  In summary, this was seriously amazing.   Their second quarter sales released today increased 52%…bear in mind the average sales price is USD $100k and their nearest top selling rivals average price is around a third of that.  I had a 20 minute test drive of model 85D.


The standout features are:

  • Design…very simple but smart looking both inside and out.  You can custom build your car and the retail experience was more like browsing a clothes store than a car yard.
  • Smart technology is the second thing that confronts you…the door handles pop out, a huge 17 inch screen replaces all the clunky knobs and dials, while software updates constantly add improvements.
  • IMG_0328
  • Speed is what you notice when you put your foot down…the model I test drove does 0-100km in 4.4 sec, the next model up does it in 3.1 sec (i.e. it is quick!).  Car geeks check out all the specs!
  • Distance wise they do up to 270 miles on a charge and they have a great network of charging locations.

As I mentioned in Nevada, this is changing the way travel occurs and locations need to be thinking creatively, planning ahead and building partnerships with the new wave of transport.

Forge Columbus

Reese operates Forge Columbus, which is a civic innovation program collaborating with a number of partners.  We toured one of the projects they have been involved with in the East District of Franklinton which won a American Planning Association award last year.  The redevelopment is in the early stages and you can already see the rejuvenation occurring, much of it centred around a converted factory housing an award winning restaurant, recording studios, event space, cowork space, office space, a yoga / trapeze studio, and over 100 artists studios.  It will a place to watch in a years time, let alone five years…there’s that reinvention theme again…  Read more on Reese and Forge Columbus.  Here’s an outside snap of the building.


Columbus Idea Foundry

Lastly, Alex gave me a tour of their setup which in Alex’s words has been built on hard work and luck.  The Columbus Ideas Foundry is the biggest ‘maker’ space in the US.  Read Time magazines take on makers or a view from The Atlantic about how makerspaces help local economies.  As one person put it to me “we are learning as a culture how to manufacture again”.  Check out this 3D printer which was made by a 3D printer…


Alex shared his thoughts around the emergence of the maker movement due to the intersection of:

  1. free information and education – Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)
  2. open source software
  3. prototyping tools such as 3D printers
  4. crowdfunding

So what do all these have in common?  They are all led by creative and passionate people changing the world we live in even if we can’t see it yet where we live.  Will we resist or adapt, and what are the opportunities we can create?


2 thoughts on “Smart cars, civic innovation and makers”

  1. Loving the visit to Tesla Will – very cool! Can you bring me a few batteries back! I’d love to talk to you about the Columbus Idea Foundry…


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