Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tracking contaminated airline cabins

Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends discusses new sensor technology for detecting hazardous toxins in an airplane:

With the numbers of airline passengers always increasing, the regulation authorities are more concerned than ever by the possible contamination of air cabins by contagious viruses, such as SARS or H5N1. This is why Purdue University researchers have developed a system that can track a pathogen substance to an area the size of a single seat. The system uses sensors to locate passengers releasing hazardous materials. But more importantly, it uses a mathematical technique, called 'inverse simulation,' which analyzes 'how a material disperses throughout the cabin and then runs the dispersion in reverse to find its origin.' This system could one day alert the pilots in real time -- and even be deployed in office buildings.

Read in full in Tracking contaminated airline cabins


Innovations in Computing

A couple of new 'news' stories recently broadcast are of interest here. First, there is Microsoft's 'looks like a normal coffee table' PC:

Read more in 'Microsoft Surface brings computing to the table'

Secondly, BusinessWeek has a piece on 'Dawn of the Ultra Mobile PC' which talks about the race to bring out the latest gizmo devices:

It's an ultracompact computer with a twist. Palm is positioning the sleek clamshell device, which will sell for $499 after a rebate, as an alternative to carrying a larger, conventional laptop. It offers a nearly full-size keyboard, a 10-inch display, and comes with a selection of applications including a word processor and spreadsheet. But Hawkins believes it will be most useful when people also carry smartphones, like Treos or BlackBerrys (RIMM), and transfer e-mail to Foleo when they're in sit-down mode. "It's a companion to your phone and companion to you,"


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Robotic ecologies

In an interesting architectural piece from Roland Piquepaille's post Architecture and 'robotic ecologies' the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Architecture has started a new program about 'robotic ecologies':

"This research is not just about architectural machines that move. It is about groups of architectural machines that move with intelligence." Apparently, buildings tracking our movements and adapting their shape or texture according human presence are not far fetched. Maybe one day, we'll talk to our homes and they'll answer...

The Super Galaxy architectural projectpicture courtesy of Roland Piquepaille's site

Above is a picture of "Super Galaxy, a NYC Tropospheric Refuge." This is "a high-rise apartment complex that's constantly in motion and responds to the needs of its inhabitants."

Read more over at Architecture and 'robotic ecologies'


Cosmopolitan paradoxes

Cosmopolitan paradoxes:
Migration and emergent systems of transnational rights

Mediterranean Mobilities Network, CeMoRe:

29 June 2007, 10:30-16:30

@ the Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University


Professor Lydia Morris, Department of Sociology, University of Essex
‘Managing contradiction: Civic stratification and migrant rights in Europe’

Dr Liza Schuster, Department of Sociology, City University
‘The realities of the New Asylum paradigm’

Dr Eleni Hatzidimitriadou, European Centre for the Study of Migration and Social Care, University of Kent

‘Matters of agency and social transformation for migrant women from Mediterranean countries’

Dr Gabriella Lazaridis, Department of Sociology, University of Leicester

‘Social capital, agency and pathways to inclusion: The case of Albanian migrant women in Greece’

Please contact Pennie Drinkall if you would like to attend at


Designing mobiles for the world

BBCNews in 'Designing mobiles for the world' discusses not so much how mobile phones have shaped global communications but rather who shapes mobiles:

Jan Chipchase tours the world looking at how people use mobile phones in their everyday lives and, more broadly, how people live.

"This is my office, my workspace," he says, pointing to a map of the world. In the last 12 months he has visited 15 countries, carrying out eight full-scale research projects.

Mr Chipchase's focus is on the uses to which people put their phones; where they keep them, how they answer them, and a million other details about our relationships with these devices that have helped shape our world. On the street, in homes, in the office, in pockets, handbags, at the marketplace, and in the community - Mr Chipchase tries to put mobile phone use into the context of the culture and landscape he is in.


Monday, May 28, 2007

The day the Earth became an 'urban planet'

May 23, 2007, transition day based on the average daily rural and urban population increases from 2005 to 2010. On that day, a predicted global urban population of 3,303,992,253 will exceed that of 3,303,866,404 rural people.

Jamais Cascio notes in his blog Open the Future that 'Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - It's the day the Earth became an urban planet':

For the first time in history, more people live in cities than in rural areas. This is, in many ways, the single most important indicator of whether we'll survive this century. Here's why:

Urban centers support people more efficiently than do small towns, villages, and the countryside. This isn't just true environmentally or economically; it's arguably also the case when it comes to the kind of intellectual ferment that drives innovation. New ideas are the sparks coming from the friction between minds -- and you get a lot more friction in the city. Urban growth, over time, makes us all stronger.

Cities require complex support systems, however. Complex infrastructure offers plenty of opportunities for failure, whether via natural disasters or human causation. Isolated failures will happen, and not pose a systemic threat. But repeated -- or un-repaired -- system failures would inevitably drive people out of the cities, by choice or by necessity.

Read more here


Beijing Auto Fleet to Top 3 Million

GreenCarCongress writes in 'Beijing Auto Fleet to Top 3 Million by June' that the number of automobiles in Beijing will reach 3 million by June, according to Mayor Wang Qishan.

The number of newly registered automobiles in Beijing is growing by 1,000 a day. According to Wang, cars registered in Beijing reached 2.997 million by this past week, of which 2.18 million are privately owned.

“The fast increase in the number of automobiles in the city has not only brought along traffic congestion, but also posed great pressure to the city in fields such as resources and environment,” said Wang.

Consumerist mobility on the increase; sustainability in question...

World Congress on Time, Frequency and Navigation

Geneva, Switzerland, is the focus for satellite navigation this week as it hosts the first World Congress on Time, Frequency and Navigation. The event runs from 29 May until 1 June:

There will in fact be two events held at the same location. The 11th European Navigation Conference – Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ENC–GNSS) will focus on both the present status of and future developments in navigation systems. The conference brings together the scientific community, private sector and international navigation organizations with the goal of sharing research ideas and promoting development in the field of navigation.

The European Frequency and Time Forum (EFTF) – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Frequency Control Symposium (IEEE-FCS) joint meeting will be held concurrently.

Read more in 'World satellite navigation congress in Geneva'


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Early Warning System to Prevent Pandemics

The Lifeboat Foundation have an interesting and informative post on tracking the progression of pathogens. In 'Researchers Endorse Global Early Warning System to Prevent Pandemics' the author Brian Wang says that

Five evolutionary stages of pathogen progression from animals to human transmission have been identified. A proposed monitoring system of viral chatter has been proposed to provide warning of new diseases before they spread to humans.

A good read...


Food for the future?

NewScientist Environment has a latest addition to the discussions on energy fuels for cars in the future. In their article 'Starch diet could power car of the future' they say that:

Green cars of the future could run on a syrupy mixture of starch and water, according to new research.

Researchers have found a cocktail of enzymes that converts starchy syrups to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen can then be fed into a fuel cell to run an electric car, or even used in an ordinary combustion engine.

The team says its technology is the solution to three major hurdles that stand between us and a hydrogen economy: safe and cheap production, storage and transportation of hydrogen.

Well, at least it's a different approach than cutting down crops...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Digital Nexus of Post-Automobility

Finally, I am happy to report that our first CeMoRe report from the 'Alternative Automobility Futures' project is available as a pdf download:

The Digital Nexus of Post-Automobility by Kingsley Dennis & John Urry

Rapid dynamic changes in several key areas are transforming the physical geography of global regions as well as their interrelations. In this Report we set out a list of processes that we consider pose significant influence upon future mobilities, lifestyles, and social relations. We identify these as global climate change; global security and the ‘War on Terror’; digital technologies and pervasive computing; and the rise in complexity thinking. This Report demonstrates how their possible combination and synthesis could impact upon mobility trends within technologically developed regions, specifically upon automobilities. Taken individually they pose significant impact; taken together they have the momentum, power, and potential to create major shifts in how socio-technical mobilities are framed. By taking automobilities, and their transformation, as the focus we outline how we conceive a possible shift occurring that would take individualised automobility use from a series to a nexus system, particularly one framed within physical/digital networks. Principally we frame these dynamic systemic changes as shifting the car system from being autonomous to becoming post-car automation. This transition would take place within a parallel shift towards increased digitisation of physical movement whereby coded environments and software-sorting systems would frame such future mobilities.

This online paper may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also download them for your own personal use. Any comments welcome!


Monday, May 21, 2007

Mobility Going Mainstream

Technology News reports that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of recognised mobile workers:

Well over a third of executives reported that at least 20 percent of their employees can be considered mobile workers, according to a global survey conducted by Nokia and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Far from being a requirement for just a few specialized technology firms, business mobility is now seen as broadly applicable to companies in many industrial sectors...

...Nokia and EIU polled more than 500 global executives across a range of industries to find out how their organizations were using business mobility. The survey's finding revealed a keen interest in mobility technology that CIOs recognize as reducing operating costs, improving workforce agility and collaboration, and attracting and retaining the best talent.

Well over a third of executives reported that at least 20 percent of their employees can be considered mobile workers, defined as those who spend at least one day a week away from the office. Far from being a requirement for just a few specialized technology firms, business mobility is now seen as broadly applicable to companies in many industrial sectors, the survey showed.

Read in full here


Science Journal goes 'Second Life'

Another addition to Second Life! Now Nature, the well-known scientific publication, is becoming a multimedia platform that includes include blogs, podcasts and even a Second Life presence:

Nature's presence on Second Life: As shocking as the Queen moving to Las Vegas
Timo Twin wanders along a beach looking slightly confused, then zigzags up a nearby hill. "Finally! I knew it was here somewhere," he says. Across a vast square the logo of his company, Nature, is emblazoned in big white letters on a red background.

Twin has arrived in his new realm, on an island in the online role-playing game Second Life. The name of the island is fitting: Second Nature. The avatar bears only a vague resemblance to the real-life Timo, a tall man in his late 30s with a slightly round, Harry Potter-like face. His real name is Timo Hannay, and he is something like the representative of the scientific journal Nature in the virtual world.

Read the full story in Spiegel's 'For Science Journal, Web Is 'Second Nature''

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Urbanization of Panic

The excellent and highly recommended blog Subtopia recently posted a piece calledUrbanization of Panic (from which the above photo was taken) in which was discussed how 'panic has become the main ingredient that binds the urban experience, perhaps even determines the geopolitical climate as well'. The post also referred to an interesting brief article called City of Panic written by Franco Berardi in the journal Voices of Resistance from Occupied London, from which I take a couple of quotes:

The metropolis is a surface of complexity in the territorial domain. The social organism is unable to process the overwhelmingly complex experience of metropolitan chaos. The proliferation of lines of communication has created a new kind of chaotic perception...

...The city of panic is the place where nobody has the time anymore to get close to each other, for the caresses for the pleasure or for the slowness of whispered words. Advertisement exalts and stimulates the libidinous attention, person to person communication multiplies the promises of encounters, but these promises never get fulfilled. Desire turns into anxiety and time contracts.

The industrial-urban over-stimulation and media-kill is a rising facet of urbanized spaces, along with increased wireless information flows...


Friday, May 18, 2007

Global net censorship 'growing'

BBCNews reports in 'Global net censorship 'growing'' how state-led censorship of the net still continues to grow around the world:

The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering. Websites and services such as Skype and Google Maps were blocked, it said.

Such "state-mandated net filtering" was only being carried out in "a couple" of states in 2002, one researcher said. "In five years we have gone from a couple of states doing state-mandated net filtering to 25," said John Palfrey, at Harvard Law School.

Still the contestations between top-down hierarchy and bottom-up activism and open participation - when will the control freaks stop??


Thursday, May 17, 2007

MediaCity: UK

This is an interesting development in urban new media and architecture, based in Manchester - it's called MediaCity: UK and, according to the website blurb:

MediaCity:UK is a new media city, an innovative, creative hub, to rival other new media cities emerging around the world.

MediaCity:UK is surrounded by water. At its heart is a triangle of iconic buildings, The Lowry, Imperial War Museum and a new media complex, home to the BBC.

A new network of tightly knit streets, squares and boulevards will cascade down into a huge waterfront piazza, a place to watch the sunset, enjoy a drink or a concert, and have some great conversations.

MediaCity:UK, based at Salford Quays, is Manchester’s waterfront. It enjoys all the benefits of the City Centre, with the space for an explosion of new media and creative industries.

MediaCity:UK is for people of all ages to live, to work, to learn, to create, to think, to relax, to visit, to enjoy…and to dream.


Phone as a Virtual Tour Guide

This TechReview article talks about how mobile phones and PDAs are using built-in sensors that can detect position, light, and motion:

Now researchers at Hewlett-Packard's (HP) Bristol, UK, lab are writing software that lets people have a little fun with these sensors. Last week, HP Labs launched a site that offers location-based games and city walking tours. The site also offers a tool called a wizard for modifying some of the existing games and tours, and a downloadable software-writing tool kit for more-advanced users who want to create applications from scratch.

"We think this will be a new genre and a new medium of experience," says Phil Stenton, research manager for the project, known as mscapes.

The HP project combines physical data with virtual information, a concept that's known as augmented reality. As location-based technologies have improved and PDAs have become more powerful, various forms of augmented reality have been gaining traction. Nokia is working on a project, for instance, that will help people navigate new areas. The user simply points a cell-phone camera at a restaurant or office building, and, using GPS coordinates, software associates a hyperlink with the image. (See "Hyperlinking Reality via Phones.") In the commercial world, some museums and tour companies--including one that takes people around San Francisco--use location-detecting gadgets to guide sightseers.

So now we're moving towards sensoring the future through our phones...

UK Social Network Conference

UK Social Network Conference:

13-14 July 2007
Queen Mary College
University of London
E1 4NS London
United Kingdom

The UK Social Network Conference offers an interdisciplinary venue for social and behavioural scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, statisticians, and others to present their work in the area of social networks. The primary objective of the Conference is to facilitate interactions between the many different disciplines interested in network science. The Conference provides a unique opportunity for the dissemination and debate of recent advances in experimental, theoretical and applied network research.

***Important dates***
Abstract Submission Deadline: Monday 21st May Registration Deadline: Monday 4th June

***Conference website***

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The beating heart of Galileo

Despite the setbacks to the European Space Agency's 'Galileo' satellite project, they still continue to publish positive information on the developments. In this latest release, they discuss Galileo's time-accuracy:

Galileo, Europe’s twenty-first century navigation system, also relies on clocks – but they are millions of times more accurate than those earlier timepieces.

The operational Galileo satellites will carry two types of clocks – passive hydrogen masers and rubidium atomic frequency standards. Each satellite will be equipped with two hydrogen masers, one of which will be the primary reference for generating the navigation signals, with the other as a cold (non-operating) spare...

...As a by-product of satellite navigation’s need for accurate timekeeping, Galileo will also be able to offer precision time services to be used, for example, in the time stamping of financial transactions.

Read in full from the ESA: Hyper-accurate clocks – the beating heart of Galileo

Mobile Phone Air Pollution Monitor

I like this one - another example of converging the use of mobile phones for environmental monitoring:

Squirrel is a Bluetooth-enabled gadget that monitors pollution, being developed by Shannon Spanhake and colleagues at the University of California San Diego and Calit2. MedGadget reports.

"Squirrel fits in the palm of your hand and can be clasped to a belt or purse. The small, battery-powered mobile device can sample pollutants with its on-chip sensor.

Using a Bluetooth wireless transmitter, the device connects to the user's cell phone. A software program called Acorn allows the user to see the current pollution alerts through a screensaver on the cell phone's display.

...The phone also periodically transmits the environmental data to a public database on the Internet operated by Calit2."

Via Smartmobs

Iraq veteran wins blog prize

The Guardian reports in 'Iraq veteran wins blog prize as US military cuts web access' how Colby Buzzell was awarded the £5,000 Lulu Blooker prize for My War: Killing Time in Iraq, which was voted the best book of the year based on a blog:

The memoir was drawn from a blog he kept while in Mosul, in northern Iraq, in 2004, in which he portrayed the texture of daily life there, from listening to Metallica on his iPod to watching his fellow "grunts" surf the web for pornography.

The paradox of Buzzell's victory is that it quickly follows the revelation that the Pentagon has introduced new rules restricting blogs among soldiers, fuelling speculation that live and unadorned combat writing from the field such as Buzzell's may be the last of its kind.

The new rules require all would-be "milbloggers", as soldier-publishers are called, to submit blog entries to supervising officers before posting them. That turns on its head the existing rules which allowed soldiers to post freely, with the onus on them to register their blogs and to alert officers to any material that might compromise security.

What is significant here is that the US Pentagon is now restricting soldier bloggers in what they write, as well as restricting Army computers from accessing such sites as MySpace and YouTube - but they seem fine to let them carry on surfing 'the web for pornography' - good influences for war??

Digital Planet 14 May 2007

This week's Digital Planet broadcast:

The how and how-not-to guide to sending emails. Faceless, the movie made entirely from CCTV footage. News of a search engine that steers you towards classical music. And how second life protests brought the Chilean capital to a standstill

Download podcast here

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bandwidth leap for British forces

The BBC reports in 'Bandwidth leap for British forces' that UK forces in Afghanistan and Iraq have started using a new satellite system that will see a dramatic improvement in their communications capability:

They are now sending voice, images and other data over the Skynet 5A platform. The spacecraft, which was launched in March, is part of a £3.6bn project to upgrade the super-fast connections between command centres.

"It's making a clear difference already," Brigadier Simon Shadbolt at the Ministry of Defence told BBC News. "In Afghanistan, where we've been using the system probably more than in Iraq, our troops have seen a noticeable increase in capability."

Skynet 5A was launched from Kourou in French Guiana on 11 March.

Click here to see how the system will be deployed


Digital Planet May 07 2007

On this week's Digital Planet:

A Wiki to bring the results of scientific research to the masses; the Wi-fi Alliance and how it maintains standards; the latest devices to keep our information secure from InfoSec 2007; and a website called which encourages fans of unknown artists to contribute small amounts of money for a proper recording session

Download here


Tagging Tokyo's Streets

Tokyo is going to experiment with a ubiquitous computing project that could transform the city, as well as spearheading the way into how urban spaces are navigated:

A capital city without road names is a huge handicap. Collectively, the Japanese (especially trainee post workers) and bewildered visitors have spent decades lost in Tokyo's labyrinthine arteries - most, literally, without a name...

...Heading the project is Tokyo University professor Ken Sakamura -who, with the aid of the Japanese government, is well on his way to building the world's first truly public ubiquitous computer network. It's "an infrastructure for the 21st century", he says, adding that it will see our everyday landscape guide us, inform us and generally hold our hand in an increasingly puzzling world.

Sakamura foresees scenarios resembling those in the film Minority Report, where the hero passes intelligent ad boards and shops in the mall which acknowledge him by name and try to flog him stuff. However the real-life version, in Japan at least, will be less intrusive, Sakamura insists....

"With this system the user is in complete control. As a user of such a network we will see our enviros us," Sakamura says. "We seek only to chip or tag objects and the environment, never people. With this system you can choose to read which you wish. The ubiquitous communicator - the pocket device you use to read the information around you - can only read and write, which means your identity is protected."

Read in full: Tagging Tokyo's streets


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wiki politics

Online journal 'Re-Public' has gone live with a new special issue on Wiki politics. It covers a range of short essays from open source politics, to Panarchy, and collective intelligence. Some examples are:

Ward Cunningham - Wiki and the rise of gift economies

Paul Hartzog - Panarchy and the wiki-fication of politics: The age of panarchy is upon us

Kingsley Dennis - The new agoras: ‘Wikis’ as a form of collective intelligence

A highly recommended read!


Second Life 'child abuse' claim

In the past I have posted positively on the 'goings-on' of Second Life. Now, it is with concern that I refer to this latest development which opens up the virtual sphere to abuse - the abuse of 'virtual children':

Second Life is being investigated by German police following allegations that some members are trading child abuse images in the online world. The investigation follows a report by a German TV news programme which uncovered the trading group and members who pay for sex with virtual children... The investigation also uncovered so called "age play" groups that revolve around the abuse of virtual children.

Read in full from the BBC - 'Second Life 'child abuse' claim'


A Tiny Revolution

RFID tags is in the news again as more and more retailers are beginning to use them in their stores. The latest is Marks + Spencer - now perhaps the rest will follow?

This summer, Marks & Spencer will start tagging suits at 120 UK stores. The labels will do the same job as a bar code at the checkout, but will also improve distribution; "smart" shelves will know when stocks are running low.

A future where every box of eggs and pint of milk comes with a microchip is being predicted. "It will happen," says Raghu Das, the chief executive of IDTechEx, an independent RFID consultancy firm in Cambridge. "But we think that day is decades away because it's harder to justify the cost of tagging low-cost items. It's just too expensive to start putting silicon chips on every piece of throwaway packaging."

Read in full: 'New advances in microchip technology are creating a tiny revolution'


Monday, May 07, 2007

Spy plane against global warming

Now here is a potentially beneficial and/or draconian use of mobile surveillance strategies - monitoring how households use their heat!

Spy-in-the-sky cameras are being used to identify householders who are wasting the most energy and to shame them into turning the central heating down. Thermal images of homes have been taken by a light aircraft fitted with military spy technology to record the heat escaping from people’s houses.

Maps identifying individual homes have now been placed on the internet to encourage occupiers to reduce their wastage and carbon emissions by fitting insulation and turning the thermostat down. Haringey Council, in London, has become the first authority in England to place house-by-house thermal maps on the web, after the example of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Making the information available to the public is intended to raise awareness of how much energy is being used needlessly, putting up bills and contributing to global warming.

From The Times - read in full:

'Spy plane employed to shame owners of heat-loss homes'


Automobiles of the future - the networked car

The fully networked car was the theme of a recent conference that addressed whether automobiles of the future would include such things as buttons to access virtual reference services, library databases, and more:

the number of cars continues to rise around the globe. In 2006 alone, some 46 million passenger vehicles were produced worldwide, according to OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles), which comprises national associations of manufacturers. These cars need to share roads and resources efficiently. The environment needs to be protected, traffic flows controlled and people kept safe. And increasingly, drivers expect to keep in touch with the outside world when travelling.

Part of the answer to these issues will come from advances in information and communication technologies (ICT). To examine how cars and ICT are converging, a workshop was held in March by World Standards Cooperation — which brings together ITU, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Read more and get links to conference papers from the site - 'The Automobile as a Networked Info Tool; Real Time Traffic'

Via Smartmobs


More tracking of motorists in Britain

Yes, this subject just never seems to go seems almost inevitable that motorists in Britain will be tracked within a decade if the government goes ahead with controversial plans to manage traffic flow and introduce road fees for drivers:

The plans were unveiled in November in a report on future transportation policies designed to help cut traffic congestion. The plans prompted 1.8 million people to sign an electronic protest petition.

Monitoring would be via a combination of static cameras to capture license-plate details, electronic tags in vehicles that would be read by roadside monitoring stations and global positioning system satellites to read on-board transponders.

"You will need 10 years at a minimum for a national rollout," Phil Blyth, professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University, told reporters. "I do not see many other options available to us to manage our transport system."

Read in full - 'British motorists face spy-in-sky monitoring'

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mobile Media and Communication

'Mobile Media and Communication' is the current special issue of the PsychNology Journal (Volume 5, Number 1, pp. 1-99) that includes the following papers as full pdf downloads:

Is It Fun to Go to Sydney? Common-Sense Knowledge of Social Structures and WAP by Ilpo Koskinen

Texters not Talkers: Phone Call Aversion among Mobile Phone Users by Ruth Rettie

Discourses on Mobility and Technological Mediation: The Texture of Ubiquitous Interaction by Giuseppina Pellegrino

Mobile Fantasies on Film: Gathering Metaphoric Evidence of Mobile Symbiosis and the Mobile Imaginary by Kathleen M. Cumiskey

And we should point out that Giuseppina Pellegrino was recently a visiting academic to CeMoRe who gave some talks and shared the office with the hoster of this blog!

Thanks to Smartmobs for the link

Phones studied as attack detector

USA Today has an article titled 'Phones studied as attack detector' that looks at using mobile phones as sensors to detect environmental dangers:

The government is researching whether the best defense against a chemical, biological or radiological attack might one day be right in everyone's hands — or on their ears.

Homeland Security officials are looking into outfitting cellphones with detectors that would alert emergency responders to radiological isotopes, toxic chemicals and biological agents such as anthrax.

"If it's successful, it'll change the way chemical, biological and radiation detection is done," says Rolf Dietrich, deputy director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, which invests in high-tech solutions to secure the nation against terrorist attacks. "It's a really, really neat thing."

Via Smartmobs

Mobilities, Space, and Inequality

Institute of Sociology, University of Basel 7 - 8. September 2007

Cosmobilities Network Conference 2007

Mobilities, Space, and Inequality

The social arrangements of space and social inequality have always formed intriguing associations, yet the dynamics introduced by modernization, globalization, migration, and social change in relation to space and inequality have not received sufficient attention in the social sciences.

Developments in communication and transport technologies are offering new possibilities of social arrangements and inequality structures in time and space. As a result, new spatial settings and functional overlappings are possible, e.g. working from home, travel time as working time, long distance relationships, etc. Accordingly, spatial mobility constitutes a number of different types of mobility. Of interest are not only the different types of mobility but also their relations to each other, as well as to social inequality structures and their dynamics more generally.

For Conference Program, Paper Abstracts & Registration Form link here

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Global-warming tourism

Now this is something to read and believe - a mobility convergence of tourism and climate change: creating travel holidays to witness climate change - how paradoxical is that?!

The effects of climate change are leading to a distinctive new form of 21st-century travel: global-warming tourism.

A US tour company will be running a special trip this summer to view Warming Island, the remarkable new feature of the Greenland coast produced by the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and featured on the front page of The Independent last week.

Betchart Expeditions of Cupertino, California, a company specialising in natural history tours and safaris all over the world, is mounting a 12-day voyage to the new island, 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle, led by the man who discovered it in 2005, the veteran American explorer Dennis Schmitt.

Travellers will set out in September from Reykjavik in Iceland and sail in comfort on board the 50-passenger expedition ship, MVAleksey Maryshev across the Denmark Strait to the island's location half-way up Greenland's remote east coast.

Read the full story in

'A holiday at the end of the Earth: tourists paying to see global warming in action'


Google funds plug-in hybrid vehicles

Its sobering to see that innovative Google is also sponsering the alternative transport sector. In this post from Green Car Congress:

The California Cars Initiative (CalCars) has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from, the philanthropic arm of Google, to support its work in educating the public regarding plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs).

CalCars is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup promoting plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). It characterizes itself as a hybrid, focusing both on public policy and technology development, and harnessing buyer demand to help commercialize PHEVs.

CalCars is also partnering with OEMTek, a provider of components and conversion systems for electric and hybrid vehicles, including plug-in hybrid vehicles.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Wireless Sensor City

TechReview looks at A Wireless Sensor City in how wireless sensor nodes mounted on telephone poles could collect data on pollutants, weather, and traffic. One of the first projects to use the network will monitor airborne pollution near industrial sites:

The network, called CitySense, will be an open test bed on which anyone can run experiments, says Matt Welsh, a professor of computer science at Harvard.

The plan is to install 100 general-purpose nodes onto the streetlights of Cambridge, drawing power from the city's infrastructure. Already there are five installed on Harvard's campus and five at BBN's facilities. Each node will be relatively large--about the size of a Mac Mini computer. A node will include a PC that runs the Linux operating system and a couple of gigabytes of flash memory as a hard drive. And instead of using a common low-power wireless-sensor protocol called Zigbee, CitySense nodes will use standard Wi-Fi radios; two radios will be in each node, one for management and control of the network, and the other for experiments. And, Welsh says, virtually any type of sensor will be able to connect to the nodes.

This shows the increased move towards sensor networks to monitor both natural, man-made and technological systems.


Larger Cities are Smarter

ScienceDaily has a post titled ''Large Is Smart' When It Comes To Cities' that examines some new research which sees larger cities as being the source of the solutions to their problems:

The inexorable trend toward urbanization worldwide presents an urgent challenge for predictive, quantitative theory of urban organization and sustainable development.

This will require thinking about cities in new ways, they add. The old way of thinking about cities is as if they are an organism, which consumes resources and grows in size. Oftentimes, cities are referred to as its own ecosystem and many use the metaphor of it acting like a biological organism, Lobo said. But the team found that this was a false metaphor.

"The one thing that we know about organisms whether it be elephants or sharks or frogs, is that as they get large, they slow down," Lobo said. "They use less energy, they don't move as fast. That is a very important point for biological scaling."

"In the case of cities, it is actually the opposite," he added.

Interesting research here...