Ethan Zuckerman’s latest blog: “Safecast is a remarkable project born out of a desire to understand the health and safety implications of the release of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Unsatisfied with limited and questionable information about radiation released by the Japanese government, Joi Ito, Peter, Sean and others worked to design, build and deploy GPS-enabled geiger counters which could be used by concerned citizens throughout Japan to monitor alpha, beta and gamma radiation and understand what parts of Japan have been most effected by the Fukushima disaster.
The Safecast project has produced an elegant map
that shows how complicated the Fukushima disaster will be for the Japanese government to recover from. While there are predictably elevated levels of radiation immediately around the Fukushima plant and in the 18 mile exclusion zones, there is a “plume” of increased radiation south and west of the reactors. The map is produced from millions of radiation readings collected by volunteers, who generally take readings while driving – Safecast’s bGeigie meter
automatically takes readings every few seconds and stores them along with associated GPS coordinates for later upload to the server.
… This long and thoughtful blog post
about the progress of government decontamination efforts, the cost-benefit of those efforts, and the government’s transparency or opacity around cleanup gives a sense for what Safecast is trying to do: provide ways for citizens to check and verify government efforts and understand the complexity of decisions about radiation exposure. This is especially important in Japan, as there’s been widespread frustration over the failures of TEPCO to make progress on cleaning up the reactor site
, leading to anger and suspicion about the larger cleanup process.
For me, Safecast raises two interesting questions:
– If you’re not getting trustworthy or sufficient information from your government, can you use crowdsourcing, citizen science or other techniques to generate that data?
– How does collecting data relate to civic engagement? Is it a path towards increased participation as an engaged and effective citizen?
To have some time to reflect on these questions, I decided I wanted to try some of my own radiation monitoring. I borrowed Joi Ito’s bGeigie and set off for my local Spent Nuclear Fuel and Greater-Than-Class C Low Level Radioactive Waste dry cask storage facility…
Projects like Safecast – and the projects I’m exploring this coming year under the heading of citizen infrastructure monitoring
– have a challenge. Most participants aren’t going to uncover Ed Snowden-calibre information
by driving around with a geiger counter or mapping wells in their communities. Lots of data collected is going to reveal that governments and corporations are doing their jobs, as my data suggests. It’s easy to track a path between collecting groundbreaking data and getting involved with deeper civic and political issues – will collecting data that the local nuclear plant is apparently safe get me more involved with issues of nuclear waste disposal?
It just might. One of the great potentials of citizen science and citizen infrastructure monitoring is the possibility of reducing the exotic to the routine….”
The Living Library Index – inspired by the Harper’s Index – provides important statistics and highlights global trends in governance innovation. This installment focuses on the data universe and was originally published in 2013.
- How much data exists in the digital universe as of 2012: 2.7 zetabytes*
- Increase in the quantity of Internet data from 2005 to 2012: +1,696%
- Percent of the world’s data created in the last two years: 90
- Number of exabytes (=1 billion gigabytes) created every day in 2012: 2.5; that number doubles every month
- Percent of the digital universe in 2005 created by the U.S. and western Europe vs. emerging markets: 48 vs. 20
- Percent of the digital universe in 2012 created by emerging markets: 36
- Percent of the digital universe in 2020 predicted to be created by China alone: 21
- How much information in the digital universe is created and consumed by consumers (video, social media, photos, etc.) in 2012: 68%
- Percent of which enterprises have liability or responsibility for (copyright, privacy, compliance with regulations, etc.): 80
- Amount included in the Obama Administration’s 2-12 Big Data initiative: over $200 million
- Amount the Department of Defense is investing annually on Big Data projects as of 2012: over $250 million
- Data created per day in 2012: 2.5 quintillion bytes
- How many terabytes* of data collected by the U.S. Library of Congress as of April 2011: 235
- How many terabytes of data collected by Walmart per hour as of 2012: 2,560, or 2.5 petabytes*
- Projected growth in global data generated per year, as of 2011: 40%
- Number of IT jobs created globally by 2015 to support big data: 4.4 million (1.9 million in the U.S.)
- Potential shortage of data scientists in the U.S. alone predicted for 2018: 140,000-190,000, in addition to 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions
- Time needed to sequence the complete human genome (analyzing 3 billion base pairs) in 2003: ten years
- Time needed in 2013: one week
- The world’s annual effective capacity to exchange information through telecommunication networks in 1986, 2007, and (predicted) 2013: 281 petabytes, 65 exabytes, 667 exabytes
- Projected amount of digital information created annually that will either live in or pass through the cloud: 1/3
- Increase in data collection volume year-over-year in 2012: 400%
- Increase in number of individual data collectors from 2011 to 2012: nearly double (over 300 data collection parties in 2012)
*1 zetabyte = 1 billion terabytes | 1 petabyte = 1,000 terabytes | 1 terabyte = 1,000 gigabytes | 1 gigabyte = 1 billion bytes
- “Open Data Sites,” data.gov, accessed August 19, 2013.
- “Obama Administration Unveils “Big Data’ Initiative: Announces $200 Million in New R&D Investments,” Office of Science and Technology Policy, March 29, 2012.
- Joan Gantz and David Reinsel, “The Digital Universe Decade – Are you Ready?” International Data Corporation, iview, May 2010
- Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson,“Big Data: The Management Revolution,” Harvard business Review, October 2012.
- “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity,” Mckinsey Global Institute, June 2011.
- “Big Data, Official statistics and Social Science Research,” The World Bank, December 12, 2012.
- “Data, data everywhere,” The Economist, February 25, 2010.
- Jimmy Daly, “18 Incredible Internet-Usage Statistics,” FedTech, June 12, 2013.
- Douglas Karr, “Infographic: Big Data Brings Marketing Big Numbers,” Marketing Tech Blog, May 9, 2012.
- “2012 Krux Cross-Industry Study,” Krux Research, June 12, 2012.
- “Gartner Says Big Data Creates Big Jobs,” Gartner, October 22, 2012.
- “Big Data Universe Beginning to Explode,” CSC, accessed August 19, 2013.
- “The Digital Universe in 2020,” IDC, December 2012
- “Big Data, for Better or Worse: 90 % of World’s Data Generated Over Last Two Years”, Science Faily, May 22, 2013.
New paper by Vint Cerf, Patrick Ryan and Max Senges Senges: “This essay looks at the the different roles that multistakeholder institutions play in the Internet governance ecosystem. We propose a model for thinking of Internet governance within the context of the Internet’s layered model. We use the example of the negotiations in Dubai in 2102 at the World Conference on International Telecommunications as an illustration for why it is important for different institutions within the governance system to focus on their respective areas of expertise (e.g., the ITU, ICANN, and IGF). Several areas of conflict (a “tussle”) are reviewed, such as the desire to promote more broadband infrastructure, a topic that is in the remit of the International Telecommunications Union, but also the recurring desire of countries like Russia and China to use the ITU to regulate content and restrict free expression on the Internet through onerous cybersecurity and spam provisions. We conclude that it is folly to try and regulate all these areas through an international treaty, and encourage further development of mechanisms for global debate like the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).”
“CLT allows many users to translate small pieces of legal texts between Chinese and English, to promote mutual understanding and provide a resource to legal professionals around the world. The sum of these small pieces, contributed in any order or no order at all, gradually creates a completed translation. You can translate as little or as much as you like, or leave comments to discuss the work of others or suggest better translations.
Quick Start: 1. open a post 2. Select Language you want to translate INTO 3. Open Tranlator Mode. 4. Translate…
We aim to create complete translations of important Chinese laws and articles, but some of the articles you view may still be incomplete or translated less than fluently. Bear with us, we are a new resource and getting there slowly. If you are able,, help us improve the translations you see!”
Press Release: “Knight Foundation today named eight projects as winners of the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, awarding the recipients more than $3.2 million for their ideas.
The projects will provide new tools and approaches to improve the way people and governments interact. They tackle a range of issues from making it easier to open a local business to creating a simulator that helps citizens visualize the impact of public policies on communities….
Each of the winning projects offers a solution to a real-world need. They include:
Civic Insight: Providing up-to-date information on vacant properties so that communities can find ways to make tangible improvements to local spaces;
OpenCounter: Making it easier for residents to register and create new businesses by building open source software that governments can use to simplify the process;
Open Gov for the Rest of Us: Providing residents in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago with the tools to access and demand better data around issues important to them, like housing and education;
Outline.com: Launching a public policy simulator that helps people visualize the impact that public policies like health care reform and school budget changes might have on local economies and communities;
Oyez Project: Making state and appellate court documents freely available and useful to journalists, scholars and the public, by providing straightforward summaries of decisions, free audio recordings and more;
Procur.io: Making government contract bidding more transparent by simplifying the way smaller companies bid on government work;
GitMachines: Supporting government innovation by creating tools and servers that meet government regulations, so that developers can easily build and adopt new technology;
Plan in a Box: Making it easier to discover information about local planning projects, by creating a tool that governments and contractors can use to easily create websites with updates that also allow public input into the process.
Now in its sixth year, the Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. Past News Challenge winners have created a lasting impact. They include: DocumentCloud, which analyzes and annotates public documents – turning them into data; Tools for OpenStreetMap, which makes it easier to contribute to the editable map of the world; and Safecast, which helps people measure air quality and became the leading provider of pollution data following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
For more, visit newschallenge.org and follow #newschallenge on Twitter.
Washington Post: “Analyses of hundreds of documented data breaches found that hackers affiliated with the Chinese government were by far the most energetic and successful cyberspies in the world last year, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by government and industry investigators.
Although hackers with financial motives are the most common source of data breaches worldwide, China dominated the category of state-affiliated cyber-espionage of intellectual property, said the 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report. The report was issued by Verizon’s RISK Team and 18 partners, including officials from the United States and several foreign governments.
Of 120 incidents of government cyber-espionage detailed in the report, 96 percent came from China; the source of the other 4 percent was unknown, it said.”
Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman and former CEO. and Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas in the WSJ: “…While technology has great potential to bring about change, there is a dark side to the digital revolution that is too often ignored. There is a turbulent transition ahead for autocratic regimes as more of their citizens come online, but technology doesn’t just help the good guys pushing for democratic reform—it can also provide powerful new tools for dictators to suppress dissent.
Fifty-seven percent of the world’s population still lives under some sort of autocratic regime. In the span of a decade, the world’s autocracies will go from having a minority of their citizens online to a majority. From Tehran to Beijing, autocrats are building the technology and training the personnel to suppress democratic dissent, often with the help of Western companies….
Dictators and autocrats in the years to come will attempt to build all-encompassing surveillance states, and they will have unprecedented technologies with which to do so. But they can never succeed completely. Dissidents will build tunnels out and bridges across. Citizens will have more ways to fight back than ever before—some of them anonymous, some courageously public.
The digital revolution will continue. For all the complications this revolution brings, no country is worse off because of the Internet. And with five billion people set to join us online in the coming decades—perhaps someday even the Pyongyang traffic police and the students in the Potemkin computer lab we visited in North Korea among them—the digital future can be bright indeed, despite its dark side.”
See also: “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,