Blog Post 4

Project Loon

“Billions of people could get online for the first time thanks to helium balloons that Google will soon send over many places cell towers don’t reach.”

Design Type: Service Design

Emergent Practise: Universal Telecommunications and Internet Connectivity for Everyone

One of the biggest problems that we face today in the digital age is the accurate collection of information, the Internet has seen an increase of users and available online content from 0.4 percent of the worlds population in 1994 to over 50% of the world now in 2016. The Internet has provided an unlimited platform of resources that anyone in the world with access can enjoy, this has led to some of our greatest Innovations of the 21st century all due to the accessibility and practicality that the Internet landscape provide for it’s users.

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Google today now has a mission statement that it wants to provide Internet to every single person in the world, providing the same level of service to rural and remote areas around the globe, so so we can have a planet that is connected and always progressing collaboratively. The name of this project is Project Loon, this project aims to launch and maintain a large fleet of balloons that would provide Internet coverage to users on the ground.

Google has already flown over 17 million kilometres of test flights with air balloons and proved that they survive airborne for nearly 6 months at a time, combining this Longevity in the air and the array of balloon networks, telecommunications signals can be bounced around and relayed back to satellites, providing up to 10 megabytes a second for users on the ground on their wireless devices. These balloons are not only wind resistant but weather-resistant also, considering that they float around in the stratosphere, the durability is paramount to the successful implementation of this Global network.

This project is a beacon of the telecommunications industry, for even in 2016 we constantly see even in major populated metropolitan areas, significant breakdowns in Internet capabilities, whether this be cabling infrastructure,exchange locations or cellular Tower positioning, we see the same issues arsing in 2016 that we did in the late 90’s. In Australia alone we have seen the difficulties of a Nationwide internet network, the NBN is proving to be an incredible task that has projected to cost billions of dollars and take over a decade to complete, this with the continuous maintenance and innovations on already established internet practises, the NBN will struggle to be relevant once completed.

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Google has already developed an automatic launching system that will continuously propel the balloons into the air every 30 minutes, these crane operated systems can be remotely operated and are reasonably affordable and easy to implement as as a standalone structure. Part of why this project is so successful is the expedited nature of the delivery system, being able to continuously upload balloons into the atmosphere provides a margin of error if balloons are ever taken down.

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Project Loon combines all the the most successful elements of the Internet today, providing high speed services globally, using efficient distribution systems (balloons), making these balloons self-sustaining with renewable energy sources, and having this service be one that operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Each one of these balloons has a coverage area of 5000 square kilometres, this combined with the integration into already existing telecommunications companies, we can now see the successful coverage of the entire planet.

And the final feature that makes these balloons the most sustainable long term global connectivity project, is when a balloon needs to be serviced, the gas keeping the balloon suspended is released and parachute deploys allowing the balloon to be guided using GPS safely to the ground. The balloons can then be repaired or replaced and sent straight back up to rejoin the network.

This emerging practice will Dawn a new age of knowledge for the globes inhabitants, with the ability to access educational material, entertainment, geopolitical and scientific information from every place on earth, will give a new voice to those who have not been allowed these basic tools we consider vital to our survival in today’s complex environments, digital or otherwise. The availability of information is how we develop our independence, history has shown fear and uninformed parties lead to poor decisions, this project can help provide the platforms for education for everyone, and facilitate the rehabilitation of parts of the world that have been left behind in the digital age.

With Googles continuous philanthropic endeavours, this project is just one of many emerging practices that will hopefully lead the globe to a more sustainable, connected and educated system of partners, with the information to successfully navigate problems of the 21st century.

 

References

Business Insider. (2016). Here’s how Google makes its giant, internet-beaming balloons. [online] Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-google-makes-project-loon-balloons-2016-8/?r=AU&IR=T [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

Cleanleap.com. (2016). An update on Google’s Project Loon | Cleanleap. [online] Available at: http://cleanleap.com/update-googles-project-loon [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

Solveforx.com. (2016). Project Loon. [online] Available at: http://www.solveforx.com/loon/technology/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

technologyreview. (2016). MIT Technology Review. [online] Available at: http://https://www.technologyreview.com/s/534986/project-loon/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

Google, (2016). [image] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34660205 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

Google, (2016). Google recently shared details about how they’re improving Project Loon’s ability to connect millions to the internet. [image] Available at: http://www.hngn.com/articles/96961/20150530/google-releases-details-recent-project-loon-updates.htm [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

Google, (2016). Google’s Project Loon superpressure balloons have already flown millions of kilometres around the world. [image] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34660205 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].

Google, (2016). YouTube/Google. [image] Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/inside-look-at-google-project-loon-2015-4 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2016].