Dockless bikesharing survey

I have a student who is conducting a survey about dockless bikesharing in Sydney … ​ Please complete, and share.

Link List: September 10, 2011

Lynne Kiesling @ Knowledge Problem Be indomitable. Refuse to be terrorized. : “And to what end — how justified is this fear? High financial, human, cultural costs, to avert events that are one-quarter as likely as being struck by lightning. Some may criticize the performance of relative risk assessments between accidents and deliberate attacks, but it’s precisely these crucial relative risk assessments that enable us to recognize the unavoidable reality that neither accidents nor deliberate attacks can be prevented, and that to maintain both mental and financial balance we cannot delude ourselves about that, or give in to the panic that is the objective of the deliberate attacks in the first place. Thus the title of this post, which comes from two separate quotes from Bruce Schneier — the first from his excellent remarks at EPIC’s January The Stripping of Freedom event about the TSA’s use of x-ray body scanners, the second from his classic 2006 Wired essay of the same title:

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics.
The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.
And we’re doing exactly what the terrorists want.”

Reason Foundation – Out of Control Policy Blog > Airport Policy and Security Newsletter: Airport Security 10 Years After 9/11: “Although my airline friends will disagree, I’ve concluded that the cost of aviation security measures is somewhat analogous to insurance. If you engage in risky behavior (drive a sports car, live in a beach house, etc.) you expose yourself to higher risks, and you rightly pay somewhat more for the relevant kind of insurance. Likewise, while it’s not the fault of air travelers or airlines that aviation is a high-profile terrorist target, the fact is that it is. So from a resource-allocation standpoint, I think a sector-specific user-tax approach is less bad than having general taxpayers pay for this.” [and much other good stuff]

The Long Now Blog » The Archive Team – Long Views: The Long Now Blog: “One of our favorite rogue digital archivists, Jason Scott, has just posted a video of his talk at DefCon 19 about The Archive Team exploits. This is perhaps the most eloquent (and freely peppered with profanity) explanations of the problems inherent with preserving our digital cultural heritage. He also describes in a fair amount of detail what he and The Archive Team have been doing to help remedy the problem.” [On a related note, The Metropolitan Travel Survey Archive has had its funding re-upped for another year, so we have more archiving to do, hopefully under less stressful conditions than Jason Scott above]

The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet

The Metropolitan Travel Survey Archive was identified by Technology Review as one of the The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet
based on an article “From Social Data Mining to Forecasting Socio-Economic Crisis” by Helbing and Balietti.
ed, March 25, 2010. Also See BBC article Earth project aims to ‘simulate everything’

It could be one of the most ambitious computer projects ever conceived.
An international group of scientists is aiming to create a simulator that can replicate everything happening on Earth – from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on Milton Keynes’ roads.
Nicknamed the Living Earth Simulator (LES), the project aims to advance the scientific understanding of what is taking place on the planet, encapsulating the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world.
“Many problems we have today – including social and economic instabilities, wars, disease spreading – are related to human behaviour, but there is apparently a serious lack of understanding regarding how society and the economy work,” says Dr Helbing, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who chairs the FuturICT project which aims to create the simulator.
Knowledge collider
Thanks to projects such as the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator built by Cern, scientists know more about the early universe than they do about our own planet, claims Dr Helbing.
What is needed is a knowledge accelerator, to collide different branches of knowledge, he says.
“Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century.”
The result would be the LES. It would be able to predict the spread of infectious diseases, such as Swine Flu, identify methods for tackling climate change or even spot the inklings of an impending financial crisis, he says.
Is it possible to build a social science equivalent to the Large Hadron Collider?
But how would such colossal system work?
For a start it would need to be populated by data – lots of it – covering the entire gamut of activity on the planet, says Dr Helbing.
It would also be powered by an assembly of yet-to-be-built supercomputers capable of carrying out number-crunching on a mammoth scale.
Although the hardware has not yet been built, much of the data is already being generated, he says.
For example, the Planetary Skin project, led by US space agency Nasa, will see the creation of a vast sensor network collecting climate data from air, land, sea and space.
In addition, Dr Helbing and his team have already identified more than 70 online data sources they believe can be used including Wikipedia, Google Maps and the UK government’s data repository
Drowning in data
Integrating such real-time data feeds with millions of other sources of data – from financial markets and medical records to social media – would ultimately power the simulator, says Dr Helbing.
The next step is create a framework to turn that morass of data in to models that accurately replicate what is taken place on Earth today.
Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
We don’t take any action on the information we have”
Pete Warden
That will only be possible by bringing together social scientists and computer scientists and engineers to establish the rules that will define how the LES operates.
Such work cannot be left to traditional social science researchers, where typically years of work produces limited volumes of data, argues Dr Helbing.
Nor is it something that could have been achieved before – the technology needed to run the LES will only become available in the coming decade, he adds.
Human behaviour
For example, while the LES will need to be able to assimilate vast oceans of data it will simultaneously have to understand what that data means.
That becomes possible as so-called semantic web technologies mature, says Dr Helbing.
Today, a database chock-full of air pollution data would look much the same to a computer as a database of global banking transactions – essentially just a lot of numbers.
But semantic web technology will encode a description of data alongside the data itself, enabling computers to understand the data in context.
What’s more, our approach to aggregating data stresses the need to strip out any of that information that relates directly to an individual, says Dr Helbing.
The Living Earth Simulator aims to predict how diseases spread
That will enable the LES to incorporate vast amounts of data relating to human activity, without compromising people’s privacy, he argues.
Once an approach to carrying out large-scale social and economic data is agreed upon, it will be necessary to build supercomputer centres needed to crunch that data and produce the simulation of the Earth, says Dr Helbing.
Generating the computational power to deal with the amount of data needed to populate the LES represents a significant challenge, but it’s far from being a showstopper.
If you look at the data-processing capacity of Google, it’s clear that the LES won’t be held back by processing capacity, says Pete Warden, founder of the OpenHeatMap project and a specialist on data analysis.
While Google is somewhat secretive about the amount of data it can process, in May 2010 it was believed to use in the region of 39,000 servers to process an exabyte of data per month – that’s enough data to fill 2 billion CDs every month.
Reality mining
If you accept that only a fraction of the “several hundred exabytes of data being produced worldwide every year… would be useful for a world simulation, the bottleneck won’t be the processing capacity,” says Mr Warden.
“Getting access to the data will be much more of a challenge, as will figuring out something useful to do with it,” he adds.
Simply having lots of data isn’t enough to build a credible simulation of the planet, argues Warden. “Economics and sociology have consistently failed to produce theories with strong predictive powers over the last century, despite lots of data gathering. I’m sceptical that larger data sets will mark a big change,” he says.
“It’s not that we don’t know enough about a lot of the problems the world faces, from climate change to extreme poverty, it’s that we don’t take any action on the information we do have,” he argues.
Regardless of the challenges the project faces, the greater danger is not attempting to use the computer tools we have now – and will have in future – to improve our understanding of global socio-economic trends, says Dr Helbing.
“Over the past years, it has for example become obvious that we need better indicators than the gross national product to judge societal development and well-being,” he argues.
At it’s heart, the LES is about working towards better methods to measure the state of society, he says, which

Metropolitan Travel Survey Archive

Urban Transportation Monitor … Metropolitan Travel Survey Archive Available as Off-Site Archive: Can Curb Loss of Valuable Data; Needs Additional Financial Support
The Metropolitan Travel Survey Archive, which I manage and is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, recently got some press, an article in the Urban Transportation Monitor. Links below.

Copy of Article in Urban Transportation Monitor (PDF)

Urban Transportation Monitor website

Survey Archive


Readers may be aware that one of my projects is to archive all of the travel surveys (which typically include one day travel/activity diaries) ever conducted in the United States (as part of the Metropolitan Travel Survey Archive), and that I have used those surveys for studies of time use. Today my wife got a call from the Bureau of the Census about her Time Use yesterday. Since this was an unprompted recall based survey, it wound up being relayed to the survey-taker in approximately reverse chronological order. This follows on my experience last year and this as part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly employment and hours worked surveys.

The surveyor has become the surveyed.