Archive for June, 2009

Open Source Sensing Initiative officially launched

Monday, June 8th, 2009

from the press release:

Open Source Sensing Initiative Launched
Preserving security *and* civil liberties in the Sensor Age

Palo Alto, CA — June 8, 2009 — A new open source-style project to promote Open Source Sensing has been started, with the goal of bringing the benefits of a bottom-up, decentralized approach to sensing for security and environmental purposes.

“The intent of the project is to take advantage of advances in sensing to improve both security and the environment, while preserving — even strengthening — privacy, freedom, and civil liberties,” said Christine Peterson, coiner of the term ‘open source software.’ “We have a unique opportunity to steer today’s emerging sensing/surveillance technologies in positive directions, before they become widespread.”

“Cheap, ubiquitous sensing has the potential to turn the worlds of privacy and civil rights upside-down,” said Brad Templeton, a futurist and civil rights activist who chairs the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “No easy solution stands out, but the quest for an answer to these problems — by learning from the bottom-up approaches of the open source community — may provide some water in the desert.”

Participation is welcome from individuals and organizations, both non-profit and for-profit. The project is coordinated by Foresight Institute, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization focused on transformative technologies.

Link to website:

About Foresight Institute
Foresight Institute is a leading think tank and public interest organization focused on transformative future technologies. Founded in 1986, its mission is to discover and promote the upsides, and help avoid the dangers, of nanotechnology, AI, biotech, and similar life-changing developments. Foresight provides balanced, accurate and timely information to help society understand nanotechnology through publications, public policy activities, roadmaps, prizes, and conferences.

Christine Peterson
tel +1 (650) 289-0860 ext 255
or use Contact email form at

ISO Sensor Network group drafts & Sensorpedia

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Sent by Kevin Keck, longtime Foresight member:

I just happened to have been reminded this week that ISO/IEC JTC1 currently has an active Study Group on Sensor Networks (SGSN). The comment period on the attached documents has closed, but they’ll be having their fourth meeting in Oslo, Norway, 29 June – 3 July 2009, and there’s mention in the second of an email discussion group that was to be resumed in March. These documents were distributed widely for comment, so you should be able to redistribute them further without any problem.

Also, have you heard of Sensorpedia?

Anyone wishing to see the documents, use the Contact form on this site to request them. And we had not seen Sensorpedia, a project of Oak Ridge National Lab, but it’s on the blog roll now. Thanks, Kevin! —Chris Peterson

Sensing: Participatory or Opportunistic?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

A paper from Dartmouth and Columbia, funded by Intel and the Dept. of Homeland Security, Urban Sensing Systems: Opportunistic or Participatory?, distinguishes opportunistic vs. participatory sensing, and advocates the former:

With opportunistic sensing, the custodian may not be aware of active applications. Instead a custodian’s device (e.g., cell phone) is utilized whenever its state (e.g., geographic location, body location) matches the requirements of an application. This state is automatically detected; the custodian does not knowingly change the device state for the purpose of meeting the application request. To support symbiosis between the custodian and the system, sensor sampling occurs only if the privacy and transparency needs of the custodian are met. The main privacy concern is the potential leak of personally sensitive information indirectly when providing sensor data (i.e., the custodian’s location). To maintain transparency, opportunistic use of a device should not noticeably impact the normal user experience of the custodian as he uses it for his own needs.

They appear to be using the term ‘transparency’ differently than we would? —Chris Peterson