The NYT Sunday Review carries a fascinating piece on how US and European wildlife officials are using the full panoply of ICTs and big data analytics to manage eco-systems and human-animal conflict. I’ve always felt that Beniger’s discussion of control was central to any realistic understanding of what is happening with big data and ICTs. What happens with animals today may happen with humans tomorrow. Starting in the early 2000s, the recovery program employed ancient and contemporary technology: Net-guns, fired from helicopters, were used to capture bighorn outfitted with collars that carried both GPS and VHF radio transmitters; professional hunters, meanwhile, tracked and darted every mountain lion in the area to outfit them with collars that carried VHF radio transmitters. Biologists at computer monitors began to watch bighorn movements.
GPS tracking devices are appearing all over the place. This NYT article gives a very positive spin to the tagging of wild animals and to the making of the data widely available, seeing it as a way of building public support for conservation. Some scientists are beginning to provide the public with direct access to tracking data. For instance, the leaders of the Tagging of Pacific Predators project, a 10-year tracking study of 23 different marine species, created a Web site broadcasting the movements of their subjects in real time (or close to it). While the project lasted, anyone with an Internet connection could follow the wanderings of Monty, the mako shark, Genevieve, the leatherback turtle, or Jon Sealwart and Stelephant Colbert, both northern elephant seals.
The political thriller The Ghost Writer hinged on the memory chip of a GPS device in a borrowed car. The whole panoply of issues around information generated by US citizens as they go about our daily business (and access to that information by the state) is to be decided by the US Supreme Court. It’ll take a while for the rights of those in other jurisdictions to be defined. The Jones case will address not only whether the placement of a space-age tracking device on the outside of a vehicle without a warrant qualifies as a search, but also whether the intensive monitoring it allows is different in kind from conventional surveillance by police officers who stake out suspects and tail their cars. “The Jones case requires the Supreme Court to decide whether modern technology has turned law enforcement into Big Brother, able to monitor and record every move we make outside our homes,” said Susan Freiwald, a law professor at the University of San Francisco.

GPS on mobiles

Posted by on October 29, 2009  /  6 Comments

You can find directions on mobile phones, but I guess this makes it smoother. For it to work in countries like ours we need more better mapping. . . .

Parental-control phones

Posted by on August 27, 2009  /  0 Comments

In the context of the debates about banning mobiles for school children, the issue of phones that constrain use has become relevant. The NYT has done a full survey of the options available to parents in the US, an excerpt of which is given below. Why doesn’t someone do a similar survey for India, Sri Lanka, etc.? Now for some real cellphones.
Mobile social networking is still a small part of the way people use their cell phones, but industry officials expect that use will grow, and not just for teenagers who want to text their friends or send short video clips. Analysts and network providers said that workers will adopt mobile social networking, following the way social network sites, such as Facebook, have begun to grow within workgroups that rely on desktop computers. These experts also expect that there will be affinity groups, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers or even baseball fans, who are linked with wireless devices. Mobile social networking makes sense because mobile devices are personal and they are taken everywhere, offering the potential for transmission of quick ideas or images. Mobile social networks will (and some already do) put video, GPS, text, voice and collaboration into the palm of a user’s hand.
“Scientists have long believed tsunamis form from vertical deformation of seafloor during undersea earthquakes. However, seismograph and GPS data show such deformation from the 2004 Sumatra earthquake was too small to generate the powerful tsunami that ensued. Song’s team found horizontal forces were responsible for two-thirds of the tsunami’s height, as observed by three satellites (NASA’s Jason, the U.S. Navy’s Geosat Follow-on and the European Space Agency’s Environmental Satellite), and generated five times more energy than the earthquake’s vertical displacements.
CORDIS : News Funded by the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the DEWS project will aim to strengthen early warning capacities in the region by building an open and interoperable tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. The system to detect tsunamis will be based on an open sensor platform and integrated sensor systems for earthquake (seismic), sea level (tide gauge, buoys) and ground displacement (GPS land stations) monitoring. These sensor systems will be one of the most important innovations in the project as they will be responsible for sending reliable data from the seafloor to the warning centre. Powered by ScribeFire.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Tsunami concern for Bay of Bengal Now, Phil Cummins, lead author on the Nature paper and a geologist at Geoscience Australia, believes this is not the case.He said: “I reviewed the geological literature and found the evidence for a lack of tectonic activity along the Myanmar coast was not compelling.” Historical evidence Recent GPS data, he said, suggested that the plate boundary was at sea in this area, hidden below thick layers of sediment.
The days of SMS are numbered now that mobile email access is becoming a commodity, research firm Gartner says. Long the preserve of businessmen in power suits, mobile email is about to hit the masses with one in five email users accessing their accounts wirelessly by 2010, according to Gartner. Monica Blasso, the firm’s research vice-president, said mobile email had moved beyond the BlackBerry and was increasingly a feature of even low-cost mobile phones, driving consumer adoption. “By 2012, wireless email products will be fully inter-operable, commoditised and have standard features,” she said. “They will be shipping in larger volumes at greatly reduced prices.

Mapping disaster research

Posted by on February 14, 2006  /  5 Comments

NSF EXPLORATORY WORKSHOP ON SENSOR BASED INFRASTRUCTURE FOR EARLY TSUNAMI DETECTION, Maui, Feb 9-10, 2006 What I learned during my visits to the Civil Defense Center and the Tsunami Museum in Hilo and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach in Hawai’i last January greatly contributed to the disaster communication research program undertaken by LIRNEasia in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Therefore, I welcomed the opportunity to step back and reflect on the research program a year later, also in Hawai’i. The occasion was a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation of the US. It was organized by Louise Comfort, Daniel Mosse and Taieb Znati, all at the U of Pittsburgh. Louise is from Public Policy and has been working on disasters for a long time.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 8 November 2005: An addressable satellite radio system for hazard warning was demonstrated to Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Colombo, Sri Lanka this week. It has been designed by WorldSpace, Inc., in collaboration with Raytheon Corporation of the US, at the request of LIRNEasia, a Sri Lankan research organization. The satellite radio is the first device to incorporate the Common Alert Protocol (CAP).