Tag Archives: Technology

Your Pot Habit Is Making Climate Change Worse

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Using Big Data to Predict Terrorist Acts Amid Privacy Concerns

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By | October 13, 2016


Before Ahmad Khan Rahami planted bombs in New York and New Jersey, he bought bomb-making materials on eBay, linked to jihad-related videos from his public social-media account and was looked into by law enforcement agents, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If only the authorities had connected the dots.

That challenge — mining billions of bits of information and crunching the data to find crucial clues — is behind a push by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to harness “big data” to predict crimes, terrorist acts and social upheaval before they happen. The market for such “predictive analytics” technology is estimated to reach $9.2 billion by 2020, up from $3 billion in 2015, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

It’s the stuff of a science-fiction movie like “Minority Report,” in which Tom Cruise played a Washington cop who used technology to arrest people before they carried out crimes. It’s also a red flag for privacy advocates already fighting U.S. spy programs exposed by Edward Snowden and the FBI’s demands that Apple Inc. help it hack into encrypted mobile phones.

The idea is to make sense of the vast and disparate streams of data from sources including social media, GPS devices, video feeds from street cameras and license-plate readers, travel and credit-card records and the news media, as well as government and propriety systems.

‘Fundamental Fuel’

“Data is going to be the fundamental fuel for national security in this century,” William Roper, director of the Defense Department’s strategic capabilities office, said at a conference in Washington last month.

For the first time, the White House released a strategic plan on Wednesday to advance research and development of artificial intelligence technology, including to predict incidents that may be dangerous to public safety.

Weeks before Rahami allegedly carried out the attacks in September, he bought circuit boards, electric igniters and ball bearings — all of which are known bomb-making materials, according to charging documents from the FBI.

In previous years, he was flagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI after he made trips to Pakistan and after his father told police he was a terrorist, before recanting the remark.

Law enforcement agents could have been tipped off that Rahami was moving toward an attack had all of those data points been culled together in one place, said Mark Testoni, chief executive officer and president of SAP National Security Services Inc., a U.S.-based subsidiary of German software company SAP SE.

“This is a big data world now,” said Testoni. He said his company has developed a computer platform for doing predictive analytics that is being used in a limited way by a Defense Department agency and by a national security agency. He declined to name the government customers or specify what they are doing.

The technology to predict events is only in its infancy, Testoni said. National security and law enforcement agencies also have different rules when it comes to obtaining and using data, meaning there are walls between what can be accessed and shared, he said. U.S. law enforcement agencies, for example, need a court warrant to access most data.

Big Brother

Privacy advocates express concern about the “Big Brother” implications of such massive data-gathering, calling for more information and public debate about how predictive technology will be used.

“There’s often very little transparency into what’s being brought into the systems or how it’s being crunched and used,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to the National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “That also makes it very hard to go back and challenge information that might be incorrect.”

Computer algorithms also fail to understand the context of data, such as whether someone commenting on social media is joking or serious, Levinson-Waldman said.

Testoni’s company and others such as Intel Corp. and PredPol Inc. are among a handful of firms pioneering the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence for clients from local police departments to U.S. national security agencies.

More than 60 local police departments in the U.S. have started making use of a service sold by PredPol, which calls itself “The Predictive Policing Company,” to forecast where crimes might occur based on past patterns, said co-founder Jeff Brantingham.

What, Where, When

Its system, developed in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department, uses only three types of data: what type of crime occurred, when and where, Brantingham said.

Then, a software algorithm generates the probability of crime occurring in different locations, presented as 500-foot-by-500-foot squares on a computer display or a printed map. With that insight, police departments then can make decisions about how best to apply their resources, such as sending cops to a high-risk area, or which security cameras to monitor, Brantingham said.

PrePol’s system doesn’t make predictions about who will commit a crime, so it stops short of a system that might identify a terrorist in the making.

“Interdicting places is, by and large, an approach that is more in line with protecting civil liberties than interdicting people,” Brantingham said.

Even with such limits, privacy and civil liberties groups oppose the use of predicting policing technology as a threat to the Constitution’s promises of equal protection and due process.

‘Fortune-Teller Policing’

“This is fortune-teller policing that uses deeply flawed and biased data and relies on vendors that shroud their products in secrecy,” Wade Henderson, president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Instead of using predictive technology to correct dysfunctional law enforcement, departments are using these tools to supercharge discrimination and exacerbate the worst problems in our criminal justice system.”

eBay, Amazon

Vast databases that companies have created for online commerce and communications could help law enforcement and national security agencies build predictive systems if they are allowed to tap into them. Technology companies have terms of service that set out how much personal information can be kept and sold to outside companies such as advertisers, and most resist handing over such data to the government unless a court orders them to do so.

Predictive analytics are already being used by companies like eBay Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Netflix Inc. to crunch their users’ Internet activity to forecast what they might be interested in. Companies like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have access to over a billion social-media accounts. The storehouse of data on Americans will only grow with digital feeds from Internet-connected appliances and wearable devices.

Social media, in particular, is a valuable tool in tracking potential terrorist attacks, said Eric Feinberg, founding member of the Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center, which is a private company. His firm has patented technology that can scan for hashtags across different social media platforms and in different languages for communications that indicate terrorist planning.

“Our software is about pattern analysis,” Feinberg said. “We focus on the communications stream.”

‘Open Source Indicators’

The U.S. government is working on initial efforts to gain insight into global social and political trends.

A program under the intelligence community’s research arm called Mercury seeks to develop methods for continuous and automated analysis of intercepted electronic communications “in order to anticipate and/or detect political crises, disease outbreaks, terrorist activity and military actions,” said Charles Carithers, spokesman for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

The agency also previously funded the Open Source Indicators program, which “developed methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data in order to anticipate and/or detect significant societal events,” such as mass violence and riots, mass migrations, disease outbreaks and economic instability, Carithers said.

CIA Forecasts

The CIA draws a distinction between using technology to anticipate events, versus predict them. The agency is using sophisticated algorithms and advanced analytics, along with publicly available data, to forecast events. The initial coverage focuses on the Middle East and Latin America.

“We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability to within three to five days out,” said Andrew Hallman, the agency’s deputy director for digital innovation.

In its annual report in June, the Defense Science Board said, “Imagine if national leaders had sufficient time to act in emerging regional hot spots to safeguard U.S. interests using interpretation of massive data including social media and rapidly generate strategic options.”

“Such a capability may soon be achievable,” the board said. “Massive data sets are increasingly abundant and could contain predictive clues — especially social media and open-source intelligence.”

Poindexter’s Legacy

If U.S. intelligence agencies develop an advanced system to predict terrorist acts they might call it “Total Information Awareness.” Except that name has already been used, with unhappy results.

Retired Admiral John Poindexter created the “Total Information Awareness” program for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2002 to find and monitor terrorists and other national security threats using data and technology.

The program became so controversial, especially over concerns that privacy rights would be violated, that Congress canceled funding for Poindexter’s office in 2003.

Having been there and done that, Poindexter now says predicting terrorism is possible but would require a lot of data, such as banking information, analysis of social media, travel records and classified material.

The system also has to include strong privacy protections that the public can review, said Poindexter, who said he was working on such a “privacy protection application” when his program was canceled.

“You have to develop public trust in the way this is going to work,” said Poindexter, who continued developing the technology after leaving government through Saffron Technology Inc., a cognitive computing company that Intel bought in 2015 for an undisclosed price. Intel declined to comment.

“The government’s priorities should be to solve the privacy issue and start ingesting massive amounts of data into memory bases,” Poindexter said. “You have to get the public on board with the idea that we can collect and search information on terrorist planning that doesn’t have an adverse impact on innocent people.”


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by Insurance Journal and was retrieved on 10/15/2016 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, ideas, materials and content of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original article accordingly.


 

India Looks to Battery Storage to Supplement Its Solar Boom

 

Image Source: Green Tech Media
Image Source: Green Tech Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Written by: Mike Stone. Posted on: March 14, 2016


For the first time ever, India is putting out the call for energy storage developers.

The state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is seeking bids for a 750-megawatt solar park at Ananthapuramu in Andhra Pradesh. In order to supplement the massive series of projects, SECI is looking to procure 100 megawatts of storage capacity.

It’s a small step for solar storage in a country that currently has little capacity. But if batteries are regularly added to future tenders, it could add up to a large market, given India’s ambitious solar targets.

The government is planning 20 gigawatts of solar installations over the next few years and 100 gigawatts by 2020 or 2022 — amounting to a $100 billion opportunity for solar, according to Ernst & Young’s renewable energy attractiveness index.

Madhavan Nampoothiri, founder of RESolve Energy Consultants, thinks solar-plus-storage will benefit.

“The opportunity is huge in India, mainly in the rooftop/off-grid space,” he said. “Power outages are rampant in India, and energy storage can help reduce the outages. On the utility-scale projects side, grid balancing and grid integration become increasingly important in order to counter the [intermittent] nature of solar.”

Large companies are preparing to do business in the sector. General Electric recently announced that its energy consulting business was chosen by IL&FS, one of India’s leading infrastructure developers and financiers, to examine the feasibility of integrated wind, solar and energy storage projects at sites in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

“Energy storage can be particularly helpful for integrating variable renewable generation in India since the technical infrastructure and market mechanisms available at the disposal of many other power grids are not yet available in the country,” said Sundar Venkataraman, GE Energy Consulting’s technical director. “As the costs start to come down, energy storage will become an integral part of India’s grid.”

IL&FS, also one of the biggest independent wind power producers in India, last year secured funding from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to look into utility-scale integration of wind, solar and storage in India. The grant is part of $2 billion in trade investment that USTDA has earmarked for renewable energy projects in India.

GE’s contribution to the research will include designing a power plant combining wind, solar, energy storage and controls. The company will then look at the costs incurred and build a business plan in order to make the project commercially viable.

At this stage, it is unclear what battery chemistries will dominate in India’s market. It will likely be lithium-ion; however, according to Madhavan Nampoothiri, there will be a place for vanadium redox flow batteries in the longer term.

For example, SunEdison ordered 1,000 vanadium storage systems from Imergy last year for use in solar-powered microgrids in rural India.

Despite its bold plans, India doesn’t have much solar to speak of yet. At the moment, its 3 gigawatts of installed solar account for only 1 percent of the country’s total generating capacity. To put that into perspective, China and Germany already have roughly 40 gigawatts each.

India’s storage sector may depend on how quickly solar scales up in the country.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published at Green Tech Media and was retrieved on March 16, 2016 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the post remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

 

Energy from waste tech offers on-site scope

28/07/2015
By David Appleyard
Contributing Editor

Testing is underway of a prototype pyrolysis technology that could extend the range of waste materials that may be used to generate energy.

The Pyrofab system is based on ‘Pyroformer’ technology, developed by the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University in the UK. Using this intermediate pyrolysis process, the tests are determining the potential of different waste materials and residues to be processed into low carbon fuel. Previously hard to treat sources of waste now have the potential to be used as a feedstock to produce low carbon energy and feedstocks being tested include food waste, domestic waste, agricultural waste such as pig manure, industrial waste and even baby wipes.

The Pyrofab converts carbon from organic waste materials to produce carbon neutral fuel and biochar, a commodity that can be used to improve soil.

In addition, the Pyrofab is transportable and can work with existing generation technology meaning waste can be locally sourced.

Professor Tony Bridgwater, Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University, said: ‘The Pyrofab unlocks the potential of waste, producing sustainable carbon neutral bioenergy and biofuels. This has the potential to change a significant liability for businesses and local authorities across North West Europe into a home grown resource, to reduce waste management costs and generate new revenue streams through the derived products.’

Source: http://www.cospp.com/articles/2015/07/energy-from-waste-tech-offers-on-site-scope.html Retrieved on 8/23/2015

Call for Papers: The 2015 4th International Conference on Climate Change and Humanity (ICCCH 2015)

Source: ICCCH 2015
Source: ICCCH 2015

The 2015 4th International Conference on Climate Change and Humanity (ICCCH 2015) is the premier forum for the presentation of technological advances and research results in the fields of Climate Change and Humanity. ICCCH 2015 will bring together leading engineers and scientists in Climate Change and Humanity from around the world.

Topics of interest for submission include, but are not limited to:

Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation
Environmental Pollution & Management
Renewable Energy Sources
Energy Policy, Planning & Management
Climate Change and Global Warming
Environmental Hydraulics
Sustainable Development
Remote Sensing and Environment
Environmental Ergonomics
Computational Techniques
Air pollution from mobile and stationary sources
Climate change
Noise and acoustics
Electromagnetic waves and telecommunication
Hazardous waste and waste treatment
Industrial waste treatment
Water pollution and treatment
Solid waste management
Environmental management systems
Air pollution control and equipment
Pollution prevention in industry
Population and environment in developing countries
Urbanisation and flood risk implications for coping in coastal zones
Green growth and policy challenges in coastal zone management
ICT, climate risk communication and public awareness framing
Government sector policy experiences with climate change
Civil society and NGO sector experience with climate change
Industry and private business sector experience with climate change including finance
International diplomacy, climate change and adaptation finance
Gender, poverty and climate change mainstreaming
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the context of climate change
Agriculture, fisheries and food security in the context of climate change
Climate change, water and sanitation, and health in developing countries
Indigenous knowledge systems and climate change adaptation

All ICCCH 2015 papers will be published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Development (IJESD, ISSN:2010-0264) , and all registered papers will be included in the Engineering & Technology Digital Library, and indexed by EBSCO, WorldCat, Google Scholar, Cross ref, ProQuest , CABI and sent to be reviewed by EI Compendex and ISI Proceedings.

One Excellent Paper will be selected from each oral session. The Certificate for Excellent Papers will be awarded in the Dinner Banquet on January 25, 2015.

Important Dates

Paper submission (Full Paper) Before September 15, 2014
Notification of acceptance On October 5, 2014
Authors’ Registration Before October 25, 2014
Final paper submission Before October 25, 2014
ICCCH 2015 Conference Dates January 24-25, 2015
One Day Tour January 26, 2015

Submission Methods

1. Electronic Submission System; ( .pdf)

2. Email: iccch@cbees.org

Please visit this link for more information: URL:http://www.iccch.org/cfp.htm

The D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science & Technology in East Asia

The D. Kim Foundation is dedicated to furthering the study of the history of science and technology in East Asia since the start of the 20th century.

The Foundation provides fellowships and grants to encourage and to support graduate students and young scholars in the field. The Foundation also promotes the exchange and contact of people between the East and the West, between old and young, or from different fields.

Fellowships & Grants
2014-2015

Welcome to the D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia. The Foundation provides fellowships and grants to support graduate students and young scholars who are working in the history of science and technology in East Asia from the beginning of the 20th century, regardless of their nationality, origins, or gender. Comparative studies of East Asia and the West as well as studies in related fields (mathematics, medicine and public health) are also welcome. English is the official language of the Foundation. All application materials (including sample chapters, papers or essays) should be written in English. All publications, workshops, and meetings that the Foundation supports use English only.

Fellowships

The deadline for the receipt of fellowship applications is December 15, 2014. Successful recipients will be notified by e-mail in late-January. The fellowship term is September 1 through August 31, but can be adjusted with permission from the foundation. If a recipient receives another fellowship or grant, he/she must report it to the foundation. The foundation may adjust the amount of the fellowship award accordingly.

Post-doctoral Fellowship: One fellowship (up to $55,000) will be awarded annually to a distinguished young scholar who has received his/her doctoral degree within the previous 5 years. Applicants should include an invitation letter from their host institution; the host institution cannot be changed without permission from the foundation.

Dissertation Fellowship: One or two fellowships (up to $25,000 each) will be awarded annually to Ph.D candidates who are writing their dissertations. Applicants should include at least two draft chapters with their application.


Grants

The deadline for the receipt of applications is December 15, 2014. Grant recipients will be notified by e-mail in late-January. If a recipient receives another fellowship or grant, he/she must report it to the foundation.

Traveling/Research Grant: Several grants (up to $2,500 each) will be awarded annually to scholars who are traveling either to present papers at international conferences, workshops or annual meetings, or for short-term research projects (less than a month). Those applicants who do not reside in the United States, please contact the foundation to check for eligibility.

Group Grants: Several grants (up to $5000 each) will be available to groups that organize workshops or international meetings. These meetings should be conducted in English.

Go to this link for more details on how to apply: http://www.dkimfoundation.org/fellowships.html

LIGHTING THE ACADEMIC COMMONS: A Case Study of Electricity Efficiency of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps

A research paper on Technology for Renewable Energy
Jenkins Divo Macedo
M.S., Environmental Science & Policy (2014)
M.A., International Development & Social Change (IDSC)

13th December, 2012

Abstract

This project explored the efficiency of the lighting systems at the Academic Commons (AC) at the Goddard Library at Clark University as part of an academic research paper for the Technology for Renewable Energy course taught by Dr. Charles Agosta, Chair of the Physics Department. The study builds on students’ responses to informal and open-ended surveys and electricity energy consumption data from the lighting systems. The data were analyzed using a 2010-MS Excel base calculator to provide descriptive statistics on demographic characteristics and statistical analysis of electricity used via lighting to determine energy cost, savings, CO2 emissions, and offsets by comparing the status quo (CFL lamps) against two hypothetical scenarios. The results indicate that, while the CFL lamps electricity consumption seems efficient in terms of CO2 emissions and cost compared to incandescent lamps, converting the lighting systems to LEDs would reduce CO2 emissions substantially and contribute to Clark University’s goal of zero emissions by 2020 thereby saving cost. The results suggest that Clark University would be saving about $3,687.00/year in lighting systems at the AC, while reducing 18,420 lbs. of CO2/year against the status quo of 147,355 lbs. of CO2/year.

Key Words: Energy efficiency, Lighting, Academic Commons, Clark University, greenhouse gases, electricity