Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Participatory Sensing Networks: Numerous possibilties

Participatory urban sensing tasks everyday mobile devices, such as cellular phones, to form interactive, participatory sensor networks that enable public and professional users to gather, analyze and share local knowledge. http://maillists.uci.edu/mailman/public/cpcc/2006-November/000056.html

In our recent history we have seen how people-based sensing can impact business-as-usual, through people-based data collection and reporting, from the Rodney King videotapes to Saddam Hussein's execution that was captured with cell phone videography. YouTube is one of many examples of internet outlets that promotes people-based data collection and reporting. Google Earth is another technology allowing one to georeference community data-collection information. Geocaching is a great way to get people into the field to see some specific aspect of the environment. Wikipedia is the web encyclopedia that makes use of the human Internet masses to collect and report information on just about everything. These are only a few of the thousands of free data collection and distribution resources on the WEB.

David Abernathy (Warren Wilson College) passed on several references to Urban Sensing projects at UCLA that have captured and refined this process. David is investigating these methods for use in his own projects. There is incredible value in this low-cost data collection process locally as a data collection tool. The people in-the-field collecting the data are also participating in a self-education process. You can compare the REMAP LA process discussed below with an ongoing community visioning process.

"REMAP will conduct a series of discussions, workshops, and training sessions in association with community organizations throughout Los Angeles. These processes will facilitate citizens' own mapping of their urban networks with personal digital technologies, such as mobile phones, global positioning system (GPS) devices, digital cameras, and geographic information systems (GIS). Their discoveries- expressed in maps, photography, audio and video recordings, and written documentation- will continually update a historical database already being established, and serve as the source materials for collaboratively-created indoor and outdoor media installations, performances and other cultural works…"

We are considering some aspect of this human sensing concept to help put the face on the data for several different projects. What does 60% slope really mean in the report? With a combination of people-sensed data from the site, geocaches that lead you to the site, and Google Earth tours that provide a bird's eye view, the face of the data begins to emerge very clearly.
These applications are some of the most stimulating ideas I have seen coming out of the Internet. There are a zillion uses for these tools locally. As we build our WNCGIS user base across western NC we will be in a great position to test some of these methods within this group.
If anyone knows how to extract and link GPS coordinates to cellphone photos please respond please post a response with some clues.

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