Archive for February, 2010

Change. Uh huh.


The NSA was basically the last remaining arm of the government that I hadn’t found direct if not open connections to, in a big way. Now they’re laying it on the table.

One interesting thing I did have on my list is how Google operates much like the NSA, most interesting example is how they recruit using a NSA method talked about in Hollywood movies. In one of Google’s cutsie promotional videos Marissa Mayer laughs about how they pay for advertising spots such as highway billboard signs where they place code only mathematical geniuses would decipher, telling the subject how to contact Google for a job.

For years I’ve been arguing that Global Warming is the Neoliberal version of the Neocon’s “War on Terror” scheme being used to usher in a planetary Strong AI global computer network along side the ‘NWO’. They’re really it out there in this context now…

(See also: *DARPA & IBM building a “global brain” “cognitive computer” for “monitoring people” and the “world”.)


What is the Planetary Skin R&D Program ?

The Challenge

“Flying Blind” in a complex and volatile World

The policies and actions that will help move the world to a low-carbon economy and address the large-scale risks associated with climate change are profound and far-reaching. They require many different individuals and groups to take between them a vast array of small and large decisions, every day. Today, those decisions are made with only partial knowledge of the possible options, benefits, costs, and risks. Decision-makers are, in essence, flying blind. Whether acting globally or locally, they lack a trusted decision information infrastructure for mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.

The Solution

Creating a global nervous system to sense, predict and act

This lack implies that we need a new way to make collaboration possible. In many ways the solution lies literally at our fingertips. The skin that covers our bodies provides information from ‘sensors’ distributed throughout the body. Nerve endings in the skin gather sensory information and transmit it through the central nervous system for processing. The body responds with appropriate remedial action to regulate and adapt to change.

Planetary Skin can be thought of as a nervous system, covering the entire planet and providing a research and development platform for open collaboration between the public, private, academic and NGO sectors. It will collect data from space, airborne, maritime, terrestrial and people-based sensor networks and other sources of structured and unstructured data. It will model, predict, analyze and report in a standardized usable format over an open and adaptable cloud platform that is governed as a global public-good.

Today, a vast amount of data is collected daily from millions of sources across the globe, and then stored in millions of disparate silos. The proliferation of additional data created by the “Internet of Things”—where all sensors and machines that can be IP-enabled will be—can only grow the amount of data exponentially. So the problem is not the amount of data; it is that the data is isolated from other data and inputs, and cannot provide meaningful insights for decision-making and action with proper local context.


At a number of recent international meetings, public and private sector leaders agreed that in addition to appropriate target setting (eg. that follow the evolving science) and predictable large-scale financing, meeting the challenges of climate change will require the creation of transparent and trusted mechanisms for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and of decision-support capabilities to enable both mitigation and adaptation execution programs to address the climate change challenge. The essential preconditions to effective agreements in climate change are the trust and transparency that come from reliable and auditable measurement. We can’t manage what we can’t measure.

The transition to a low carbon economy will require a vast array of small and large decisions made by a range of governments, corporations, communities and other stakeholders. But currently they are forced to make these with only very partial information. To unlock reliable, scaleable, open participatory mechanisms to achieve trust and informed decision making we need to pool the assets and capabilities of researchers in public and private sectors, leading space agencies, NGOs, think tanks, academia and international scientific institutions. No single institution has the capabilities, assets or knowhow to complete the R&D program required on its own– national and international cross-sectoral collaborations are key.

An Evolving Partnership Model

To develop the core capabilities and applications associated to the Planetary Skin platform, a number of global and regional partnerships are in development. These will create cross-disciplinary collaboration clusters around the following areas: global platform R&D capability development (core horizontal, Earth Observation and modeling capabilities, ICT, etc); application R&D domains (core vertical capabilities in energy, water, food, land-use decision support , etc); international science and climate change policy advisory partners (contextual advisory); regional climate science/policy/technology networks (regional networks).

While development of the Planetary Skin platform is aimed at creating a vital climate change decision-support system of systems, success will also rely on drawing together experts and capabilities across sectors, institutions and regions to participate in an international system development effort. So, along with the core technical challenge, we face the need to organize scientists, engineers, policymakers, businesses, financiers and citizens into a collaborative network or ‘connected commons’. As a collective problem, climate change requires collective solutions. No single organization, enterprise or public institution or group of citizens can resolve this problem alone.

Programs like the UN’s IPCC AR5 process, the UNFCCC Adaptation Taskforce, the UN’s Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS), the CGIAR Challenge on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Group of Earth Observation and GEOSS, the IGBP, WCRP , DIVERSITAS and IHDP programs under the Earth System Science Partnership, and WMO’s recently mandated ‘Global Framework for Climate Services’ amongst others , are needed to spur international, inter-governmental collaboration and cooperation in the policies, in the science, the modelling and in the earth observation required.

New, hybrid organizations, are needed to stimulate innovation from, create opportunities for, and leverage the capabilities of non-governmental/non-profit and private sector actors and stakeholders working with such governmental actors. Engaging such a range of organizations and partnerships in collaborative activity will fuel development, deployment, operation and sustainability of the systems and practices under development.


In researching and developing the Planetary Skin with NASA, Cisco has been driven by the belief that the Internet is reaching its next turning point. The history of computer science has been described as a search for “what can be (efficiently) automated”. The fundamental challenge today is to look beyond this and find the best way to manage the relationship between what can be efficiently automated and what cannot – i.e. human judgments and interactions, especially across organizations and sectoral boundaries. The scale, diversity and location of the people, sensors, assets, machines, etc that will drive this phase of development requires a new set of capabilities both in and on the network. Nothing shows this more clearly than the Planetary Skin.

The Planetary Skin is a unique R&D program that will help shape the architectures, foundational technologies, tools and strategies that this next generation of the Internet will require. This fact has recently been recognized by Tim O’Reilly, originator of the phrase “Web 2.0” who, at the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, identified two themes he sees as key for the future of the Internet. First, he said, sensors will surpass humans in front of their keyboards as the primary data source on the web and second, Moore’s Law will need to be applied to humanity’s greatest problems.

This is the Internet that requires highly distributed and collaborative geospatial, analytical, visual, and immersive decision support platforms that aggregate other subsystems using open standards i.e. the platform of platforms.

We require a platform of platforms that integrates legacy environments, yet also provisions distributed services able to traverse firewalls, automate event management, and tap into highly distributed unified computing and scientific modeling services and utilities, as well as handling the geospatial oriented networking demands of zettabytes of data. These requirements today are only addressed in a limited way, more often in proprietary approaches in specialized settings, behind firewalls, and in client/server silos that prevent us from extracting cognitive meaning.

The key characteristic of the future of the internet though will not be technological. Rather, the future of the internet will be defined by the way it enables a loosely integrated and constantly changing fabric of communication, collaboration, tele-immersion, and data services to enhance the decision-making processes of the human network.


The PSI will be structured as a not-for-profit entity, with independent governance secured by having participants from all sectors. The PSI global network will be made up of seven peer regional hub-and-spoke networks (India, Brazil, Africa, China, Japan, EU and US) connected by a seamless collaborative network and through a shared agenda for applied research and development and common values and principles.
An auditable and open governance model is essential for replicating and scaling the Planetary Skin Institute over time.

Planetary Skin Institute

The Planetary Skin Institute (PSI) is a new organization that embodies the spirit of cooperation and open collaboration between public, private, NGO and academic sectors required to address the global challenges arising from climate change.

The transition to a low carbon economy will require a vast array of small and large decisions made by a range of governments, corporations, communities and other stakeholders. But currently they are forced to make these with only very partial information. To unlock reliable, scaleable, open participatory mechanisms to achieve trust and informed decision making we need to pool the assets and capabilities of researchers in public and private sectors, leading space agencies, NGOs, think tanks, academia and international scientific institutions. No single institution has the capabilities, assets or know-how to complete the R&D program. So national and international collaboration across sectors and disciplines is key.

PSI will research, develop and prototype an approach to provide near-to-real-time global monitoring of environmental conditions and changes. This will deliver the required decision support capabilities to manage global resources, risks and build environmental markets.

While the PSI is enabled to a great extent by advances in the technology – space, communication, computation and collaboration among them – that can deliver real-time global monitoring; human interaction and collaboration is the real engine of the programme. The coming together of opinion and willingness to act across many sectors has pushed the Planetary Skin Institute from a conceptual model towards a prototype and will secure its progress onwards to global implementation and replication. PSI places people, their energy, inventiveness and creativity at the heart of the research and development agenda. The PSI Global Advisory Council is made up from leading figures from all relevant areas of the PSI R & D programme.

Planetary Skin Global Advisory Council brief biographies:

Professor Lord Nicholas Stern (UNITED KINGDOM)

Lord Nicholas Stern is chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and IG Patel Professor at The London School of Economics and Political Science

Chief Economist of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003. Led the review into the economics of climate change that resulted in the publication of the globally influential Stern Review.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri (INDIA)

Chair, IPCC; Director General TERI, Executive Director, Yale Climate & Energy Institute

Work as chair of the IPCC led to joint award of the Nobel Prize for Peace. And was recently awarded the second highest civilian award in India, the Padma Vibhushan.

Professor Dr. Zhou Dadi (CHINA)

Former President, Energy Research Institute, National Development Reform Commission (NDRC);

China’s lead representative to the IPCC is the founding director of the Beijing Energy Efficiency Institute and has a leading reputation globally for his work in energy and environmental policy.

Charles F. Kennel (UNITED STATES)

Director, Dean, Vice-Chancellor, and Professor Emeritus Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Has served on Presidential Commissions and chaired National Research Committees and Boards. Chair of the NASA Advisory Council from 2001 – 2005. Was Associate Administrator at NASA for Mission to Planet Earth 1996-98.

Dr. Carlos Nobre (BRAZIL)

Director, Centre for Earth Science Research, National Space Research Institute; International Chair of International Biosphere Geosphere Programme and Chair of the National Panel of Climate Change

Author of the internationally influential hypothesis on the savannization of the Amazon rainforest, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this work with the IPCC.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins (UNITED KINGDOM)

Director, Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London; Member of the UK Government’s Climate Change Committee

A world authority on climate issues and global weather patterns, he was a member of the IPCC team awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Chair of Scientific Committee of the UK Met Office Hadley Centre.

Professor Coleen Vogel (SOUTH AFRICA)

Chair of Sustainability, School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Witwatersrand;

Past Chair of the International Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP). Advises a number of South African government departments and Africa’s NEPAD on vulnerability decision-support.

Professor Taroh Matsuno (JAPAN)

Director-General of the Frontier Research System for Global Change (FRSGC)

His expertise includes meteorology, especially large-scale atmosphere dynamics, and climate dynamics. Awarded the prestigious United States AMS Life Achievement Award. He has been serving as the Director-General of FRSGC, and also as the Director of Integrated Modeling Research Program as an additional post.

Dr. Phil Sharp (UNITED STATES)

President of Resources for the Future

A leading authority on US energy policy and a distinguished record of public service, with ten terms as member of the House of Representatives for Indiana. He has been at the forefront of critical US energy policies over the last two decades. Has held Chairs in Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Dr Steve Howard (UNITED KINGDOM)

CEO, The Climate Group, Chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change

Has advised numerous leading CEOs, companies and government leaders on climate change. Has focused on catalyzing global and regional public private partnerships to rapidly transition to a low carbon economy.


The PSI’s program’s activities will take place in seven regional hubs across the world, in several phases. The key products of PSI will focus on:

  • Undertaking rapid prototyping projects that demonstrate value to decision-makers coordinated through global network, governance, outreach and R&D agenda
  • Providing unique global data sets and modeling outputs through PSI’s open climate change decision support cloud infrastructure
  • Hosting the Global Climate Solutions Exchange for the benefit of policymakers, businesses and communities globally to jumpstart execution towards a low carbon economy
  • Development of the roadmaps and business plans for the public-private partnerships to enable replication and scaling of the Planetary Skin platforms
  • Facilitating the transition of prototypes into operation through both open source/innovation and venturing