Michael Ostrolenk: Teenager Builds Browser Plug In to Show Where Individual Politicians Get Their Funding
I just downloaded the GREENHOUSE app for Chrome and it is great. Talk about easy access to highly illuminating data. Well done! I’d encourage everyone to take a look at the app. It is very light and couldn’t be easier to use. As the creator Nick Rubin says, – Some are Red. Some are Blue. All are GREEN. That’ couldn’t be more true.
This is what we mean when we say technology can beat the bureaucracy. Let that sunshine in.
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New Planetary Economy
A new, rational, self-regulating economic system is necessary to meet present and projected global realities. The current model creates artificial scarcity by strictly controlling the issue of currency, converting it into a tradable commodity itself. Money is further hoarded and manipulated in such a way as to create debt, inequity and poverty.
The silver lining to the current economic crisis is that people will be forced, perhaps for the first time, to examine their unconscious assumptions about this entrenched system and stretch their cognitive range to allow for a different approach.
Below the fold are the executive summary in full text, and a 22 page PDF with graphics.
Kevjn Lim is an independent writer and Middle East foreign policy analyst at Open Briefing: The Civil Society Intelligence Agency. In the latter half of 2013, he was Turkey representative for the Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP), covering the Syrian crisis in the northern governorates and Turkey. From 2007-2011, he served as delegate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Palestinian Territories, Sudan’s Darfur region, Iraq, Gaddhafi’s Libya and Afghanistan. He also taught modern languages (Hebrew, Arabic, French and Spanish) at both Trinity and Queens’ Colleges, University of Melbourne (2004-2006), and served as intelligence officer with the Singapore Armed Forces (2001-2004). Kevjn holds a BA and an Honours Degree (First Class) in political science and Jewish-Islamic studies from the University of Melbourne. He is currently doing postgraduate work in strategic studies. Among other languages, he is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and Persian, as well as some Turkish, and is currently based in the Middle East.
Patrick Meier: Zoomanitarians – Using Citizen Science and Next Generation Satellites to Accelerate Disaster Damage Assessments
Zoomanitarians has been in the works for well over a year, so we’re excited to be going fully public for the first time. Zoomanitarians is a joint initiative between Zooniverse (Brook Simmons), Planet Labs (Alex Bakir) and myself at QCRI. The purpose of Zoomanitarians is to accelerate disaster damage assessments by leveraging Planet Labs’ unique constellation of 28 satellites and Zooniverse’s highly scalable microtasking platform. As I noted in this earlier post, digital volunteers from Zooniverse tagged well over 2 million satellite images (of Mars, below) in just 48 hours. So why not invite Zooniverse volunteers to tag millions of images taken by Planet Labs after major disasters to help humanitarians accelerate their damage assessments?
It is time for people to understand that relational databases were not made to handle big data. There is just too much data jogging around in servers and mainframes and the terabytes run circles around relational database frameworks. It is sort of like a smart fox toying with a dim hunter. It is time that more robust and reliable software was used, like Hadoop. GCN says that there are “5 Ways Agencies Can Use Hadoop.”
Hadoop is an open source programming framework that spreads data across server clusters. It is faster and more inexpensive than proprietary software. The federal government is always searching for ways to slash cuts and if they turn to Hadoop they might save a bit in tech costs.
“It is estimated that half the world’s data will be processed by Hadoop within five years. Hadoop-based solutions are already successfully being used to serve citizens with critical information faster than ever before in areas such as scientific research, law enforcement, defense and intelligence, fraud detection and computer security. This is a step in the right direction, but the framework can be better leveraged.”
The five ways the government can use Hadoop is to store and analyze unstructured and semi-structured data, improve initial discovery and exploration, making all data available for analysis, a staging area for data warehouses and analytic data stores, and it lowers costs for data storage.
So can someone explain why this has not been done yet?
Satellite images have been used to support humanitarian efforts for decades. Why? A bird’s eye view of a disaster-affected area simply captures far more information than most Earth-based data-collection technologies can. In short, birds have more situational awareness than we do. In contrast to satellites, UAVs offer significantly higher-resolution imagery, are unobstructed by clouds, can be captured more quickly, by more groups and more often at a fraction of the cost with far fewer licensing and data-sharing restrictions than satellite imagery.
Introduction to UAVs
There are basically three types of UAVs: 1) the balloon/kite variety; 2) fixed-wing UAVs; 3) rotary-wing UAVs. While my forthcoming book looks at humanitarian applications of each type, I’ll focus on fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAVs here since these are of greatest interest to humanitarian organizations. These types of UAVs differ from traditional remote control planes and helicopters because they are programmable and intelligent. UAVs can be programmed to take-off, fly and land completely autonomously, for example. They often include intelligent flight stabilization features that adapt for changing wind speeds and other weather-related conditions. They also have a number of built-in fail-safe mechanisms; some of the newer UAVs even include automated collision avoidance systems.
Fixed-wing UAVs like senseFly’s eBees (above) are launched by hand and can land a wide variety of surfaces, requiring only a few meters of landing space. They fly autonomously along pre-programmed routes and also land themselves auto-matically. My colleague Adam from senseFly recently flew eBees to support recovery efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda. Adam is also on the Advisory Board of the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators). Other fixed-wing UAVs are flown manually and require an airstrip for both manual take-off and landing. Rotary-wing UAVs, in contrast, are “helicopters” with three or more propellors. Quadcopters, for example, have four propellors, like the Huginn X1 below, which my colleague Liam Dawson, another Advisory Board member, flew following Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. One advantage of rotary-UAVs is that they take-off and land vertically. They can also hover in one fixed place and can also be programmed to fly over designated points.
Rotary-UAVs cannot glide like their fixed-wing counterparts, which means their batteries get used up fairly quickly. So they can’t stay airborne for very long (~25 minutes, 2 kilometer range, depending on the model) compared to fixed-wing UAVs like the eBee (~45 minutes, 3 kilometers). Advisory Board member Shane Coughlan is designing fixed-wing humanitarian UAVs that will have a range of several hundred kilometers. Fixed-wing UAVs, however, cannot hover in one place over time. So both types of UAVs come with their advantages and disadvantages. Most UAV experts agree that fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAVs can serve complementary purposes, however. You can quickly use a quadcopter to an initial aerial recon and then send a fixed-wing UAV for more detailed, high-resolution imagery capture.
Humanitarian Uses of UAVs
HELSINKI, Finland — If there’s something you’d like to know about Helsinki, someone in the city administration most likely has the answer. For more than a century, this city has funded its own statistics bureaus to keep data on the population, businesses, building permits, and most other things you can think of. Today, that information is stored and freely available on the internet by an appropriately named agency, City of Helsinki Urban Facts.
There’s a potential problem, though. Helsinki may be Finland’s capital and largest city, with 620,000 people. But it’s only one of more than a dozen municipalities in a metropolitan area of almost 1.5 million. So in terms of urban data, if you’re only looking at Helsinki, you’re missing out on more than half of the picture.
Helsinki and three of its neighboring cities are now banding together to solve that problem. Through an entity called Helsinki Region Infoshare, they are bringing together their data so that a fuller picture of the metro area can come into view.
That’s not all. At the same time these datasets are going regional, they’re also going “open.” Helsinki Region Infoshare publishes all of its data in formats that make it easy for software developers, researchers, journalists and others to analyze, combine or turn into web-based or mobile applications that citizens may find useful. In four years of operation, the project has produced more than 1,000 “machine-readable” data sources such as a map of traffic noise levels, real-time locations of snow plows, and a database of corporate taxes.
A global leader
All of this has put the Helsinki region at the forefront of the open-data movement that is sweeping cities across much of the world. The concept is that all kinds of good things can come from assembling city data, standardizing it and publishing it for free. Last month, Helsinki Region Infoshare was presented with the European Commission’s prize for innovation in public administration.
Stephen E. Arnold: “Business Intelligence” aka Data Mining Marketplace Imploding — “Everything Must Go!”
I read “Consolidation Looms in Business Intelligence, as Tibco Buys Jaspersoft for $185M.” The write up is interesting, but not exactly congruent with my views. May I explain?
The article points out:
Enterprise software vendor TIBCO has acquired Jaspersoft, an open source business intelligence company, for approximately $185 million. It’s not an earth-shaking deal, but it could be a sign of things to come in an analytics software market full of companies and products that have a hard time standing out from the crowd.
MBAs will drooling at the thought of business intelligence deal making if the article’s premise is correct.
But there are several other angles in this Tibco Jaspersoft tie up.