Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

“The dream behind the Web is of a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information. Its universality is essential: the fact that a hypertext link can point to anything, be it personal, local or global, be it draft or highly polished.”

– Tim Berners-Lee

Digital Living

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

In my day job, I contribute to the efforts of this group. Multilateral efforts like these come and go – it is very difficult, especially for large companies, to both embrace standards and still exploit competitive advantage through connectivity among their own devices in a proprietary way. Nevertheless, the inherent forces of evolution driven by individual users seems to force them into some accommodations with interoperability.

“Members of the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) share a vision of a wired and wireless interoperable network of Personal Computers (PC), Consumer Electronics (CE) and mobile devices in the home enabling a seamless environment for sharing and growing new digital media and content services…Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) today (On September 27, 2005) announced its Certification and Logo Program of the DLNA Home Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines 1.0. The program is aimed at verifying that products designed to the guidelines meet DLNA’s certification testing requirements.”

Intelligent Buildings – Intelligent Inhabitants?

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

One application of merged wireless sensors comes in the form of long-promised “intelligent buildings”.

“Next month, a host of new wireless gadgets designed to help make buildings and homes “smart” will debut at the ZigBee Open House and Exposition in Chicago. Among them will be a so-called domestic awareness system that warns you if the stove is left on or if the basement starts flooding. Another lets you network your home entertainment system with environmental controls such as light dimmers or a thermostat. The point of such a setup: to automatically set just the right mood when you’re watching DVDs or listening to music.”

Maybe we can find higher uses for evolving intelligence than setting the lighting for your next DVD experience. How about reducing our reliance on foreign oil?

“It is a little known fact that even on the annual peak day for electric use, the US needs only about 75% of its generating capacity. Without question there are many local areas that do not have enough generation, but of equal importance is the transmission and distribution grid. GridWise is focusing on both of these challenges by working to serve as the catalyst for developing the technology solutions that will make the grid self healing and improve reliability. 814 stimulated a substantial amount of investment in technology that notifies utilities of a fault in energy supply, and there have also been steps taken to improve intercommunication between utilities. In spite of all these efforts however, there is still no comprehensive intelligent system technology to optimize the performance of the grid. Think of an eBay style Internet Service that would allow utilities to not only wheel power between transmission and distribution systems, but more importantly would create an economic engine to allow energy trading between utilities and even energy users.”

Zigbee !!

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

The ZigBee Alliance. I mean, you gotta love that name. Networking for Joe Sixpack. It’s becoming automatic for connectivity to be built in to almost every electronic device.

“The goal of the ZigBee Alliance is to provide the consumer with ultimate flexibility, mobility, and ease of use by building wireless intelligence and capabilities into every day devices. ZigBee technology will be embedded in a wide range of products and applications across consumer, commercial, industrial and government markets worldwide. For the first time, companies will have a standards-based wireless platform optimized for the unique needs of remote monitoring and control applications, including simplicity, reliability, low-cost and low-power.”

There is also a convergence going on with the advent of cheap sensors (you know, like automatic doors at supermarkets) being built into the same computer chips with wireless interconnection capability. Pros and cons, per the exchange quoted below, but an inevitable impact on our way of life.

“Srini Krishnamurthy, vice president of business development for Airbee Wireless, outlined a wireless sensor mesh project under study for Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. Every door in the airport could be outfitted with 900-MHz wireless sensors and automated locks, networked to a central point where rules could be set for when a door could be opened, by whom, by time of day, without the need for guards. This idea sparked a pragmatic response from Samuel Reed, an electrical engineer with Key Technologies of Baltimore: “Can a terrorist walk into the airport with a 900-MHz jammer and shut the whole place down?”:

Big Thinking

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

Global nervous system, under construction, by some guys who are not shy about spending large amounts of money on big promises for the world of the future. This is the kind of centralized approach that was successful in creating the Internet (when it was DARPAnet). But it seems counter to the kind of organic approach consistent with an evolving Neurosphere the way I see it. As I say, nothing if not ambitious.

“GLIF, the Global Lambda Integrated Facility, is an international virtual organization that promotes the paradigm of lambda networking. GLIF provides lambdas internationally as an integrated facility to support data-intensive scientific research, and supports middleware development for lambda networking. It brings together some of the world’s premier networking engineers who are working together to develop an international infrastructure by identifying equipment, connection requirements, and necessary engineering functions and services.”

And what do you do with it?

“Real-time Applications provide “windows” into the worldwide LambdaGrid. Scientists who generate terabytes and petabytes of data on remote computers or instruments demonstrate how they use the LambdaGrid to interactively visualize, analyze, and correlate data from multiple sites; results are projected onto large visualization and/or virtual-reality displays. Applications in art, bioinformatics, chemistry, cosmology, cultural heritage, education, manufacturing, medicine, geoscience, neuroscience and physics are among those shown. A variety of Grid middleware developments, with emphasis on data management grids, data replication grids, visualization grids, data/visualization grids, computational grids, access grids, and grid portals are also featured, using a variety of computer-based technologies, including distributed computing, visualization and virtual reality, tele-science, data mining, remote instrumentation control, collaboration, high-definition media streaming, and human/computer interfaces.”

Self-Organizing Network Infrastructure

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

The very name of this company recalls natural systems (phototropism in plants) and their technology “self-organizes” – according to biologists like Francisco Varela, one of the definining characteristics of living organisms.

“Tropos Networks is the proven market leader in delivering metro-scale Wi-Fi mesh network products and services, with more than 150 customers and 40 resellers in eight countries around the world at the end of 2004. Our solutions are the fastest, lowest cost and simplest way to deliver true wireless broadband (>1 Mbps) over large geographic areas using low-cost standard Wi-Fi clients. Our innovative and patented MetroMesh™ architecture provides maximizes throughput from client to server, eliminates the need for costly and complex per node wiring and automatically self-organizes as nodes are added or subtracted, backhaul supplied or removed, and interference comes and goes.”

Google Boosts Wi-Fi

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

As I’ve said before, ”Wi-Fi technology looks like the most organic source of development of network infrastructure. Like phototropism, the bandwidth grows and develops in the direction of the most interest and need.” Sexy corporate funding will create buzz and might juice infrastructure in the short term, but centralized Fortune 500 planning may work counter to the natural evolution of the technology.

“’Google has submitted a proposal to offer free, wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) to the entire city of San Francisco,’ Google said in a statement.”

Grids Within Grids

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

More lessons of the Internet applied to electricity generation. If we’re getting more wired, we need to deal with the environmental impact of greater electricification.

“Small networks of power generators in “microgrids” could transform the electricity network in the way that the net changed distributed communication. That is one of the conclusions of a Southampton University project scoping out the feasibility of microgrids for power generation and distribution…Microgrids are small community networks that supply electricity and heat. Microgrids, say the researchers, could easily integrate alternative energy production, such as wind or solar, into the electricity network. …That network could be made into a smart grid using more sophisticated software and grid computing technologies. As an analogy, the microgrids could work like peer-to-peer file-sharing technologies, such as BitTorrents, where demand is split up and shared around the network of “users”.”

A tip of the NeuroHat to the Da Vinci Institute News from the Future newsletter.

Location Based Services for the Newly Mobile

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

The viral success of the mobile phone industry, to the point of replacing the wireline phone in increasing numbers of households, brought the attention of the FCC to reinventing the 911 emergency service for the mobile world. This has spawned rapid growth in technologies for interconnecting the untethered – from established giants like Cisco to focused start-ups like Intrado. Intrado’s core corporate focus on E911 shouldn’t obscure the potential for other location-based services and capabilities – what’s the nearest pizza joint to where my car is right now?

“The Cisco Wireless Location Appliance is the industry’s first location solution that simultaneously tracks thousands of devices from directly within the WLAN infrastructure—bringing the power of a cost effective, high-resolution location solution to critical applications such as high-value asset tracking, IT management and location based security.”

Intrado provides the core of the nation’s 9-1-1 network and delivers innovative solutions to communications service providers and public safety organizations, including complex data management, network transactions, wireless data services and notification services.

Organic Evolution of Infrastructure

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

Wi Fi technology looks like the most organic source of development of network infrastructure. Like phototropism, the bandwidth grows and develops in the direction of the most interest and need.

The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) has built a communications network using wireless networking equipment. This is essentially the same “WiFi” equipment used in homes and offices, but we put it on rooftops to connect neighbors and form a high-speed community network.

Grid Computing

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

Grid computing continues to grow. The technology is proving out and

“World Community Grid’s mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity.” Projects include the Human Proteome Project, mapping the proteins made from the genes mapped by the Human Genome Project. Partners donating computing resources include IBM and the Semiconductor Industry Association. is a single destination site for large-scale, non-profit research projects of global significance.

“DIMES is a distributed scientific research project, aimed to study the structure and topology of the Internet, with the help of a volunteer community (similar in spirit to projects such as SETI@Home). The DIMES project is part of EVERGROW – a research consortium comprising more then 20 universities and research institutes from various countries. The DIMES headquarters are situated in Tel-Aviv University ‘s EE-Systems department.”