Monday, October 8, 2007

Disruptive Innovation Where It Counts: Earthquake-Proof Housing for Emerging Nations

Kudos to Colorado State University and the Indonesia Aid Foundation for innovating where it really counts. They have been developing low-cost ways to make earthquake-proof structures to be used in emerging nations like Indonesia, where huge casualties are inflicted when earthquakes strike. The spirit of disruptive innovation is finding ways to reach low-end users and non-users with innovations that are convenient and affordable, often blindsiding those who are focused on the expensive, high-tech solutions. Earthquake-resistant buildings is a great example. Instead of designing complex foundations and sophisticated reinforcements, low-cost solutions have been found using discarded tires as a shock-absorbing element in the foundation of the building, and bamboo as a replacement for rebar in concrete.

They are going to need help to get these innovations in use globally, and there is a need for further work as well. There may be opportunities to exploit low-cost fibers and fabrics as part of the reinforcement for concrete structures, especially in high-stress areas. And better integration of ceilings into the earthquake-resistant design could help.

Partners could include Cemex and other cement manufacturers.

I'm also looking for innovations in low-cost water purification that can be run from solar power. Let me know your thoughts.

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