Hardware companies must stop competing and collaborate to prevent future pandemics

In factories and industrial estates around the world, extraordinary efforts are being made to ensure that hospitals have ventilators, and logistics firms have freezers and refrigerators. Behind the scenes, this construction campaign is taking place on an epic, unprecedented scale. In some places, it is also frighteningly inefficient.

That inefficiency can only be expected. Had to manufacture responsibly in such a short time Always dirty. But many of the hardware hold-ups we’ve seen – from production line bottlenecks to part constraints – can be avoided in the future by implementing an “open source” ethos to produce the world’s hardware.

Open source design is a form of collective intelligence, where experts work to create a design that anyone has the legal right to create. The software industry has long shown that “open” collaboration is not only possible but also profitable. Is open source software Ubiquitous, And the servers that power the Internet themselves run largely on open technology, Designed collaboratively by competing companies.

At the onset of the epidemic, and during the recognition of the global emergency, dozens of large companies in the world had not actually “signed”Open COVID pledge, “Promised to share its intellectual property to help fight the virus. On a smaller scale, More than 100 project teams Set to create and share “open” ventilator designs, which can be produced locally, indicating the pressing need for ventilators around the world.

Unfortunately, none of these initiatives succeeded in making ventilators at the required rate in hospitals In the early weeks of the epidemic. After examining current efforts to share the intellectual property of machines, our recent paper concludes that projects should be Open from scratch For the success of open hardware. Everything from the first doodle to detailed calculations on the napkin that verifies safety should be available if other experts and manufacturers are going to participate in the design.

A breathing mask on top of a medical ventilator