Download A Building

16 Mar
DeadDrops USB in A Wall

Dead Drop

I have seen this image on many webpages and found it interesting. Googling it, I found the website from which it came – Dead Drops.

According to the website:

‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is open to participation.

This project made me think, what if you could plug in to a building and download that building? What if, when you plug in to the USB stick, you are presented with a local webpage (HTML file) containing access to the floor plan, maintenance logs, sensor data, etc..

Using an AutoRun script like we did for CDs – back when we used CDs – we can present the files with a web based front end without actually connecting to the web.

So why do this? Why not just put the files on the web or let someone connect to our network and look at the files?

  1. I may not want my sensitive files – floor plans – on the web.
  2. If I put them on my intranet, I have to let this person on and this opens up the possibility that they can get to other things.
  3. Of course I have a backup, but say this person deletes or corrupts the files on my intranet and I didn’t? If they delete the USB stick, I still have my originals.
  4. This lets me provide a place for a consultant, or emergency responders, to plug in and have everything they need in one place.

None of these reasons are great. The real reason to do this is because it is cool. The physically connecting a computer to a building and then seeing all the information about the building is an experience that is not obtained by going online to a website or opening a file.

But I have been asked by school districts to give them floor plans of their facilities so they can place them in a box that is accessible to first responders so that they can get information when arriving on scene. So why paper? How about a USB stick in a box with a cable they can plug in to?

Practical? Who knows.

Cool? Yup!


6 Responses to “Download A Building”

  1. Shannon.Abiteboul March 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    This idea looks interesting but I’m not sure how practical it might be. On the deaddrops web site, the photos of the man having to hold his computer up against the wall does not look very comfortable. I would also be afraid to damage my computer or the usb drive having to do that.

    I definitely like your idea to use it to store building information. I would be leery of a usb dropped in a public wall for public use and what might be on it.

  2. archiwiz March 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I like the idea! And since security is a concern, the connection can be installed in a place where only authorized or need-to-know users can access it. I think in this age of smart buildings we should have this already. Or a Bluetooth/wireless connection without even plugging in anywhere. 🙂

    Having the floor plans accessible to first responders in any medium (paper or electronic) is great! And as someone who is on an FCA project where we’ve often had to recreate plans because they’re just not available, I would certainly appreciate having this feature everywhere we go.

    BTW thanks for the twitter follow.

  3. Scott March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    This is a really cool idea, I love how the digital world and the real world are intersecting in such new and interesting ways. I’m not sure USBs are the best way to go – as other readers have noted, it’s very hard to secure them against vandalism, viruses and so on.

    For one-way communication such as downloading building plans, a QPR code might work. Or if some low level of interaction is desired, maybe we could use near-field chips (like those tap-to-pay systems), and restrict what activities are possible.

    Great find, thanks for the post!


  1. Revit REST API: Building as a Service | Architecture and Planning - January 21, 2015

    […] Data through the Web and  Linking a Revit DB to a QR Code.  I also wrote a post on the idea of downloading a building.  As I have been doing more coding, a mashup of these posts has finally hit me. I can download a […]

  2. Revit REST API: Building as a Service « - January 21, 2015

    […] Data through the Web and  Linking a Revit DB to a QR Code.  I also wrote a post on the idea of downloading a building.  As I have been doing more coding, a mashup of these posts has finally hit me. I can download a […]

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