Sunday, February 6, 2011

Examples of research and education applications for a national R&E wireless network

[I have blogged many times that I think the next major step for national R&E networks is to deploy national wireless solutions integrated with their optical backbones to support numerous eScience applications in sensor networks, environmental modeling, personal mobile health etc.
Congestion issues, outrageous roaming fees and data charges make existing cell phone- wireless networks impractical for many of these applications. But by integrating the R&E optical network and doing immediate data handoff with Wifi hotspots in schools, universities and communities and operating a national MVNO in partnership with cell phone companies will allow the easy deployment of national and global eInfrastructure for the next generation for eScience applications. Here are some R&E examples that such an eInfrastructure could support – BSA]

The Future Digital Health Consumer Here Today –Toward Personalized Preventive Medicine

Massive Health Uses Big Data, Mobile Phones to Fight Chronic Disease

Massive Health, a new San Francisco start-up aimed at tackling health care problems, has just raised $2.25 million in its first round of funding from a stellar list of investors. The company plans to use the money to develop mobile applications that help users treat chronic diseases using big data, analytics, social and game mechanics.
[..]While he doesn’t go into specifics, Raskin said Massive Health wants to apply the latest in data analytics and advances in mobile devices to tighten the feedback loop for patients of chronic diseases. By helping people tap into their phones as sensors and then analyzing the data, Massive Health is able to better shape the behavior of users.
[…] We’ve already seen a number of mobile applications targeting health like Fitbit and the Nike + iPod Sensor. It’s going to get even more crowded as venture capitalists look more in this direction. But with no immediate answers for problems like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, it’s good to see more dollars making their way toward this intersection of mobile and health care.

MobileU: Higher Ed Scrambling to Keep Pace with Students’ Mobile Use

For many college students, smartphones and iPads are becoming the primary way they use the internet. The Chronicle quotes a recent Educause survey that found “half of all college students used mobile gear to get on the Internet every day last year, compared to 10 percent of students in 2008.”
That’s a pretty astounding jump. And signs point only to continued growth.
The educational software company Blackboard has released an open-source software package to allow universities to develop their own college-specific apps. Blackboard is following in the footsteps of iMobileU, an open-source community developed at MIT that has been working with universities to create tailored mobile apps for several years now. But these schools may still have a long way to go.
Kayvon Beykpour, vice president of Blackboard Mobile, told the Chronicle colleges often don’t realize “how far their web services have fallen behind what students are used to.” The Chronicle’s Josh Keller writes: The Stanford graduate recalls that signing up for courses online was so difficult that it was a ‘running joke’ in the computer-science department.
“Students are using Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, all these Web 2.0 systems every day,” Beykpour said. “It’s like their top five Web sites they use. And the sixth Web site is the school Web site, because you have to use it. And that’s where the biggest disconnect is.”
A student’s online relationship with a college still involves such requirements as signing up for classes and checking grades, he says. But, he goes on, colleges house a tremendous amount of data about student choices and social connections that would be useful in helping their students navigate the institution online.
Beyond just being able to access the university’s web domain to check grades or register for classes, new apps are being designed so students can access career placement services, keep track of football team stats, and even pay for parking on campus via text message.
And there’s more. Experts say colleges should not just be creating small versions of desktop computers, instead they should be taking advantage of location-based technologies and ways to share student-produced media.
You can see more examples of campus apps here. Students at Harvard can check what’s for dinner at each campus cafeteria, and we thought Notre Dame’s Prayercast was pretty creative—students can access “spiritual content” delivered digitally every day.

Urban Flooding Preparedness Research Powered by Mobile Cloud

Due to environmental changes, the problem of urban flooding has been receiving a large amount of attention, especially as highly-publicized news of such events has been emerging in recent years. There might be a way for residents in flood-prone cities to better prepare for oncoming periods of flood-inducing rain due to some innovative research that combines the power of geospatial data provided by cloud based map services like Bing and new applications that help users get a broader view of rainfall trends.
Yong Liu, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana focuses on a range of issues related to computationally-intensive applications and the systems behind them. One area where he has been prolific is in the realm of scientific cloud computing.

One current project Dr. Liu is tackling involves harnessing the power of mobile and cloud computing technologies. The proposed research, called “Mobile + Cloud for Localized Scientific Model Execution and Visualization: A Next Generation Community Informatics Tool” will be looking at how the mobile cloud can address societal problems, including urban flooding and disaster preparedness.
The research “uses MSR Project Hawaii’s DSK and provides mobile phone triggered scientific model execution in the Azure cloud and Bing Maps based visualization of local personalized on-demand situational awareness.”

Put together, this sub-field that intersects with many of Liu’s current research themes, is called “community informatics” which is based on the idea that technology and communities can be meshed together to paint broad portraits of a localized area within any given situational or specific context.
As the plan coalesces, the participants, led by Liu, hope to carry out a six-month pilot that will involve the deployment of a model-based geostatistics service that uses resources from Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure. This will be based on a code model using the open source geo-R package. The next step will be to create a mobile Bing Maps interface that will allow users to “trigger and visualize on-demand calculation and results of contour maps of thematic value such as rainfall rates at a user’s current location within a radius of a few miles.” This can then be fed into a database where real-time results can be achieved by users to predict and thus prepare for urban flooding events.

This mobile cloud driven platform will be what the researchers hope “one of the first next generation community informatics tools that enables personalized, local views and understanding of spatiotemporal environment phenomena such as storms.”
You can view some of the denser ideas or to view more about the researcher here.
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