An open source approach to developing electric vehicle charging infrastructure has the potential to provide substantial benefits to local communities and businesses. By making the technical standards, software, hardware designs, and other aspects of EV charging stations open and available for anyone to use freely, it lowers the barriers to entry for more widespread adoption.
When infrastructure development is led through cooperative open collaboration rather than limited to just a few large corporations, it allows for much more localized and tailored solutions. Local governments, businesses and organizations are empowered to take EV charging deployment into their own hands in a way that makes the most sense for their specific needs and resources. They can work together to strategize optimal placement of stations that best serves local drivers while stimulate local economic activity.
Rather than relying solely on large network providers that may prioritize more dense urban areas for financial reasons, an open source model enables grassroots “from the ground up” development. Rural and smaller communities that are often overlooked can still advance electrification and the associated community benefits. They have the freedom to customize solutions based on their unique geographies, landscapes, traffic patterns and land-use characteristics.
Localized control over infrastructure also means optimizing placement based on an intimate understanding of local transportation behaviors and synergies between public and private destinations people frequent most. Charging stations can be situated conveniently next to popular shopping areas, parks, attractions and workplaces to encourage EV adoption. With an open framework that welcomes collaboration between all stakeholders, this kind of hyperlocal optimization becomes much more achievable.
Small and medium-sized local businesses also gain greater empowerment to directly participate in and benefit from EV charging growth. Shops, restaurants and other enterprises can choose to host stations on their properties to attract EV drivers looking for a convenient place to charge while patronizing local establishments. This provides new opportunities for small business marketing and promotion. Independent operators of public chargers can also flourish by identifying gaps and demand that major network companies overlook.
An open source model fosters localized business innovation around EV charging technology and services. Enterprises and entrepreneurial teams are free to develop novel hardware add-ons, payment systems, mobile apps and other ancillary solutions without the restrictions of proprietary standards. This spawns new local tech jobs and companies. Independent suppliers and installers can more easily enter the market to meet the demands of customized community solutions. The resulting boosts to local enterprise and employment have significant positive economic ripple effects.
By keeping costs down through open cooperation rather than vendor lock-in, funding and maintaining public charging infrastructure also becomes more financially viable for community groups and local governments. Municipalities get more budget flexibility to support widespread deployment that strengthen their value propositions and attract new residents and businesses in a high-tech sustainable way. Leveraging the efficiencies of volunteerism and public/private partnerships magnifies the impact of scarce tax dollars.
Perhaps most importantly, an open approach emphasizes accessibility and inclusiveness over profitable network growth alone. Used together with creative policies, this can help overcome range anxiety for lower-income drivers who still want to reap the environmental and financial benefits of electric transport. Community-based programs provide opportunities for used EV and public charger sharing that extend electrification more broadly. When charging access is a right not dependent on corporate interests or subscription fees, the clean mobility future becomes available to all.
An open source model for EV charging infrastructure development unlocks immense benefits for local communities and businesses large and small. It empowers localized innovation,optimization and economic opportunity that corporate approaches struggle to match.Most of all, it puts control back in the hands of citizens and stakeholders on the ground to guide electrification in a way that best serves their unique needs and values. When scaled broadly, this citizen-powered approach can accelerate society’s shift to sustainable transportation faster than any top-down framework.