Tag Archives: aaS

raas – the failure of “-as-a-service” in the physical world

Roads are empty something like 90% of the time.

8% of the time, they’re rightly-sized. 1.5% of time, they’re a little tight

1.5% of time, they’re a little tight.But that .5%? Holy CRAP

But that .5%? Holy CRAP are they ever too small when they’re too small.

Imagine if the “*-as-a-Service” model could be applied to roads: expand their capacity on-demand as use requires. It works for businesses expanding and contracting their technical needs (a la cloud computing).

It [could] work for getting fancy dentures when you need them.

I guess this is what flying cars are supposed to alleviate – but with ~220,000,000 registered drivers in the US, imagine even 0.1% of them driving flying cars. That’d be 220,000 flying cars. If even 1% of them decided to utilize the “flight” aspect at any given time, that’d be 2200 vehicles in the air. 2200 vehicles with no flight plans. 2200 vehicles in an unknown state of fueling, repair, etc. Air travel is currently the safest form of transport. Would that still be true with 2200 angry drivers trying to escape from the traffic they find themselves in at the same time? Especially given the non-uniform distribution of those vehicles (they’ll dominantly simultaneously appear in ultra-densely-populated areas and ultra-rural ones), this wouldn’t be the utopia of George Jetson. It’s be the insanity of Back to the Future Part II when the Delorean arrives in 2015 from 1985. But worse.

My best professor once said, “no one has gotten elected saying they want to eliminate roads”. But followed that up with, “every time roads are expanded, they get just as busy during busy times, and waste an awful lot of concrete the other 23.2 hours of the day”.

What we need is a way to carry-over the technological paradigm of “*-as-a-Service” into physical infrastructure. Because it sucks. Bad.

I don’t know best to approach that. Certainly the “sharing economy” models of Uber & Lyft are a component.

And self-driving cars will help.

But only when they’re not only “self-driving”, but when they’re actively communicating and optimizing with other vehicles. But what happens when you are “optimized” into a “slower” path because other vehicles were “optimized” into “faster” ones?

It’s certainly a thorny area of societal thinking to wade into. And one that needs lot of thoughtful input and consideration from many quarters.