Designing the Car Experience for Good Collisions

by | Traveling

There are over 10 vehicle collisions happening per minute in the USA with over 34,000 fatalities per year.  The cost of a fatality to society can be upwards of 1 million dollars in lost productivity and health costs.  These types of collisions are clearly a bad thing. We will be looking the causes of such collisions in another post, but what we are talking about in this post is “collisions” of people.  Tony Hsieh’s (CEO of Zappos which was acquired by Amazon) initiative called the “Downtown Project” in Las Vegas is built on the premise of “collisions” of people or people meeting each other serendipitously and creating new ideas and innovation. Although  the “Downtown Project” is not a new concept in which the design of the physical space is designed and made to be “social” and “innovative” it is the first attempt to be done at that scale. IDEO, Pixar and a number of other companies have all purposefully designed their building spaces to encourage “collisions” between people so that innovation can happen.  Christopher Alexander in his 1970s book called “A Pattern Language” clearly articulates the creation of architectural configurations in cities, towns and buildings to encourage social contact.

So how do collisions of people cause innovation and new ideas?  Isaac Newton once said “He is standing on the shoulder of giants” which refers to his acknowledgement of the contribution of the many scientists that came before him that allowed the development of his theories of gravity.  It has been generally accepted that innovation is really the combination and recombination of old ideas to create something new.  Jared Diamond (author of Germs, Guns and Steel) who studied human history spanning over 100,000 years, concluded that each successive generation of humanity build upon the discoveries of the previous to do something better (stone tools to bone tools to iron tools etc). The Royal Society,  the Socratic method and the story of the modern art movement in Paris in the early 1900s (that Hemmingway, Picasso and Matisse were part of),   all arose from the proximity of space allowing the exchange and creation of innovative ideas.

By designing a physical space to be more social, more contact can happen and hence more ideas can “collide” to create new ideas.   In a study of college dorm rooms, it was shown that students that lived together or were proximate to each other (1 or 2 rooms away) had the closest long term friendships after College whereas people in rooms farther away had none.  In an office setting,  people usually have 350 sq feet of office space allocated to them…when this is decreased to 150 square feet, the amount of interaction between the people doubled.

Although the design of floor space, buildings and cities can be one way to increase innovation through collisions, there is one often overlooked space that most people use on a daily basis and which is perfect environment for collisions to occur (and which is almost free to use)…the automobile. With the average American spending 45 minutes per day commuting, this time can be utilized in a much better fashion through the encouragement of RideSharing or people riding together.  Not only can this encourage the exchange of ideas but it can enable a more social and bonding experience between people.

In a recent conversation with a lady who has done Ridesharing for years she said “Not only was I more relaxed when I got to work, but I got to know someone better than I would have otherwise”.  This is RideSharing at its best.


Spedsta is an awesome RideSharing Application Coming Soon!
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