Sensorpedia and Environmentally Friendly Drilling

New Year, New Direction: Environmentally Friendly Drilling

We’re also excited to have new funding to revive the Sensorpedia project and apply it to a completely different domain: Environmentally Friendly Drilling! We are working with Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) on the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems program. Here is a video by one of our partners at Texas A&M that will give you a taste of what we’re working on.

Environmentally Friendly Drilling is an important research area and we’re excited to be a part of the work being done at HARC and Texas A&M. We’ll be sharing more details as the program progresses.

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Is 2014 the Year of the Internet of Things?

Things have been quiet around here for a little while. The original Sensorpedia project, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, was completed a few years ago and the beta application was taken down. But since that time, we have continued to work in the Internet of Things and Web of Things research space for other projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A lot has changed in the IoT/WoT space since Sensorpedia was first developed. Many people are calling 2014 the year of the Internet of Things and CES 2014 features lots of new IoT products from a number of vendors. We’re excited to see what the year holds.

Samsung Galaxy Gear at CES 2014

What do you think? Is 2014 finally the Year of the Internet of Things?

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New server, new look

You may have noticed a new look here at We’ve migrated to new servers and decided to experiment with a new look in the process. We’re still working on updating our WordPress blog template to match, so for now we’re using the simple Pangea theme temporarily. We’ve also taken down the “Sneak Peak” application that was available on our old server. Stay tuned for an updated Sensorpedia API and beta application in the near future!

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Next generation of scientists

Sensorpedia intern Ashley is featured in this Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) student intern video.

“Are you ready to join us at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as part of the next generation of scientists?”

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Sensorpedia Video Series – Episode 1

You’ve seen the introduction video; now its time to get down to business. This episode is for anyone who wonders what Sensorpedia is, how it is innovative, and how it fits into The Internet of Things. Jason Frank films himself and fellow team members David Resseguie, Tim Garvin, and Ashley Dailey in this behind-the-scenes look at Sensorpedia.

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A productive summer

It’s hard to believe 10 weeks have already passed, but the summer internships at ORNL wrapped up today. I big Thank You! is in store for all the hard work this summer from Ashley Dailey, Jason Frank, and Tim Garvin. All three played a critical part of making this a very successful and productive summer for Sensorpedia. I realize that not much has changed on the Sensorpedia web application during the initial beta (alpha?) release. But we haven’t been sitting still either. We’ve actually been using the Sensorpedia software (primarily the backend services) on a number of other projects here at ORNL for our government customers. Ashley, Jason, and Tim have played a big role in incorporating much of the lessons learned from these other projects back into Sensorpedia proper. Stay tuned for several blog posts from the team that I’ve got queued up to explain several of the latest changes. And you won’t want to miss the latest video that’s in the works either…

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Sensorpedia video series “The Lab” is here!

You’ve been waiting for it… now view the Teaser, Opening Scene, and Opening Credits in this first installment.  Jason Frank films himself and fellow team members David Resseguie, Tim Garvin, and Ashley Dailey in this riveting (or use your own cliche word) behind-the-scenes look at Sensorpedia.  Enjoy.

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A lesson learned… again

In many ways, it was just another day of class. But as I sat there awaiting the final exam of my first graduate computer science course, Advanced Algorithm Analysis and Design, I wondered if my studies had prepared me to succeed at this level. Most of the students surrounding me were PhD students, and their experience in this subject was greater than mine. For a moment my mind flashed back to a time three years earlier. It was the day I told my wife that I wanted to go back to school, starting over in a new subject, to get a Masters degree in computer science. Then I plotted a course to make it happen.

Unlike the degree that I completed nine years earlier, there were no liberal arts or elective classes in my plan for this new degree; it was all math and computer science. I wasn’t sure how well I would fair since the last math class I had taken was when I was a junior in high school. But I moved forward with my plan and one by one, I received an “A” in all of the undergraduate math and computer science courses that led to me sitting in that classroom surrounded by fellow graduate students. Would this class end in the same manner?

Two weeks later, I was walking across the campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I was starting my second summer internship with Sensorpedia, so I was heading to over to meet up with my mentor and lead developer of Sensorpedia, David Resseguie. After catching up on what we’d been up to the past several months, David told me that one of my first tasks of the summer was to write a blog post. He said to write about something I had learned this past school year. For those of you that don’t know David, that might sound a little silly… to just write about something that I learned. For those of you who do know David, you know that learning is very important to him. He knows that good ideas can come from a wide variety of sources, and a great way to facilitate that is to continue to learn new things.

For those of you still hanging on to my opening story about my Advanced Algorithms class, I can happily report that my 4.0 GPA in this subject remains intact. So the question was now before me: Of all the things I learned this past school year, what did I feel was worthy of writing about for this blog? A quick thought back revealed several possibilities. Should I write about the inner workings of the proof of Rice’s theorem from Theory of Computation class (which gives us the fact that only trivial properties of programs are algorithmically decidable)? Or should I write about the mangled NP complete proof for the Hamiltonian Cycle problem (where we transform an instance of Vertex Cover to an instance of Hamiltonian)? Perhaps the topic should be more programming related. I could write about the nights spend debugging my bipartite network flow program. Or just as easily I could tell of my experiences implementing Unix pipes. Which topic truly deserves the honor?

To answer this question, I will ask one of my own. Why do we ask our kids to clean their rooms? Is it to rid ourselves of the feeling the chaos? Sure. But isn’t another main reason that, as adults, we understand the importance of having the things we need access to accessible when we need them? We know that the investment of time to clean one’s room pays off. Now, how does this relate to my past semesters of math and computer science studies? As I reflected over these months of study, it dawned on me that the things that I truly learned were things that I had already learned before: the power of preparation, hard work, and in particular, organization. Of all the things that I’ve studied in this journey of my new degree, it is these simple, timeless qualities that I have again learned to be priceless. It’s true that I might not have the raw intelligence of some of my classmates. But I have found that I can make up that difference with these other qualities. I found that if I spent the time necessary to organize complex issues, I could perform at a high level. I found my investment of organization paid off.

Others also know the power of organization. When Bryan Gorman and David Resseguie started Sensorpedia, they knew the potential of organizing the world’s sensor data. Sensor data was somewhat available, but not organized. One type of sensor data was often times not compatible with other similar types of sensor data. There was one proprietary format after another. It was harder to have access to certain data when you needed it. Sensorpedia seeks to fix these problems. It seeks to organize complex issues and data sets, so that our users can perform high level tasks. How ironic is it that my lesson learned has been a core goal of Sensorpedia all along?

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Sensorpedia highlighted in Sensors Magazine article

I’m happy to announce that an article about Sensorpedia has been published by Sensors Magazine. I’d like to thank my co-author Scott Fairgrieve of Northrop Grumman for his input and development of a translation tool to simplify the registration of standards-based sensor systems that use the OGC Sensor Observation Service (SOS) Interface Standard. Watch for a guest blog post by Scott describing his effort in the near future.

Here is a link to the Sensors Magazine Article:

Unifying Isolated Sensor Systems Using Web 2.0 and Open Standards

“Taking a page from social networking sites that offer users the ability to share and manipulate data in novel ways, Sensorpedia allows users to find, share, and use sensor data online.”

I’m thankful for the questions and requests for more information I’ve received since the article was published earlier this week. If you haven’t already done so, please check out the Sensorpedia sneak peek. I know the blog and Twitter feed have been fairly quiet over the last few months. That doesn’t mean there’s been nothing going on with Sensorpedia. In fact, we’ve been very busy. As part of the private beta effort, we’ve been collecting feedback on how to improve the Sensorpedia API and web application. In addition to the beta testing, we’ve also been applying the Sensorpedia concepts and software to other related domains as part of our ongoing work here at ORNL. We’ll be writing more about these individual efforts in the near future. But the key point for now is that we’ve been incorporating the valuable feedback and are preparing to migrate Sensorpedia to an updated API. It’s still Atom-based, but is much more powerful and flexible. The updated API will fully support the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) and additional querying capabilities. I’m very excited about where we are and the changes we’ve been making. I’ve already used an alpha version of the new services internally on several projects with lots of success.

Because of the particular interest I’ve received regarding technical details on the framework and the new API (thanks @freaklabs, @rafik, @SiliconFarmer and others!), I will plan to post a draft version of the updated API documentation before even completing the development work to incorporate it into the beta web application. When I do, I’ll post links on the blog and @Sensorpedia Twitter account. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the changes and the direction we’re taking with Sensorpedia in general.

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iPhone development license approved

Just before leaving for the Christmas holidays, I got some good news! Our application for an Apple iPhone development license was approved. The process took much longer than I had hoped, primarily because a national lab is not a typical “business” and the usual application process didn’t exactly fit. But I’m happy that we’re all set now. I’ve got the SDK installed and will begin actual development soon.

I’m excited to build on the outstanding work that Chris did this past summer in building a prototype Sensorpedia app. Chris focused primarily on submitting observations from the phone. Be sure and click through his presentation on “enabling citizen sensors” and read the related blog post. I’m working now to add a mobile viewer component to allow you to search for and view nearby sensor data.

Hopefully we’ll get the details worked out soon and you’ll find us in the app store! Of course, you’ll be the first to know by following us here on our blog and on Twitter.

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