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We don’t need ‘The Rock’ to save the day, we just need to ‘Get Social’!

Mobile applications and sensors are commonly used to monitor traffic, health & wellness and incidents such as road traffic accidents.  But what about the threat of catastrophic disasters such as earthquakes where the loss of life can be unprecedented?

The sun drenched, Californian city of Pasadena is known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl Football game.  It is also located near the infamous San Andreas Fault (SAF).  If you paid attention in geography class at school or if you’ve seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster, ‘San Andreas’  starring ‘The Rock’, you’ll know that this means the city is at risk from earthquakes.

The Rock

Can ‘The Rock’ save the day?

It is suspected that one day California will be hit by The ‘Big One’.  This is a hypothetical earthquake of a magnitude ~8 or greater that is expected to happen along the SAF. Such an earthquake will result in devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the fault in urban areas such as Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. No one knows when ‘The Big One’ will happen because scientists cannot predict earthquakes with any precision.  However, technology is providing them with data that in time will give Californian residents a fighting chance of survival.

Seismometers are highly sensitive instruments that detect seismic activity that occur before earthquakes strike. Unfortunately, due to their cost, the number of seismometers in California are limited.  The Southern California Seismic Network operates just 350 seismic stations and the Northern California Seismic Network has a further 412.

With the threat of ‘The Big One’ forever looming, The Caltec Institute in Pasedena embarked on a project to determine how they could provide a blanket of cheap Seismometers across the state.

Their answer? Smartphones! Yes, really!

Research conducted proved that accelerometers found in most smartphones are sensitive enough to detect large earthquakes.

Creating the ‘Community Seismic Network’ – Caltech is encouraging residents to opt-in to turn their smart phones into mobile seismometers by simply downloading an application called ‘Crowdshake’ onto their android device.

Caltec have said: “if only 1 percent of users in the area opted into the scheme, that few hundred seismometers would be augmented by several hundred thousand additional sensors giving sufficient intelligent processing”.

So how does it work?

Upon downloading the mobile application an algorithm executes in the background of the mobile device.  Algorithms are monitored and when seismic motion is detected by the accelerometer, a message is sent to a Cloud Fusion Center which includes the time, location, and estimated amplitude of the data that triggered the message.

Mobile seisomemetres

The benefit of the Community Seismic Network is huge.  A dense, city-wide seismic network could be used to detect earthquakes rapidly after they start and measure the strength of shaking accurately as it unfolds.

What would this mean to Californian residents? Well, it will enable immediate action to be taken to prevent damage, such as stopping trains and elevators, stabilizing the power grid, and deploying emergency teams.

This is an astounding example of the Internet of Everything! People, data, process and things coming together to save lives in real-time!

Whilst the application is currently a research prototype and not yet fully deployed for public use, Caltech anticipate that the capability of real-time early warning may convince users to download and install the application when it is readily available.

So quite simply, it pays to ‘get social’ especially on those days when ‘The Rock’ isn’t around the save the day!




The Next Big One: Detecting Earthquakes and other Rare Events from Community-based Sensors.

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Join us at Cisco Live to see how IoE Improves Learning Outcomes

Analysts agree that academic institutions worldwide face more complex challenges than ever before and are under tremendous pressure to cut costs. At the same time, they also need to provide greater access to education, increased security, and improved outcomes and services, among others.

Through solutions enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE), these academic institutions can successfully address their challenges, transforming schools and universities into connected campuses and taking them to the next level of an improved and digitized learning experience.

IoE in Education

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Cisco Education: Learn Without Limits

There’s no doubt that learning is changing. In the past, learning was constrained by time and place. We all might remember, fondly or not, the traditional classroom, static desks in rows, plumes of chalk dust permeating the air, and trips to the library on foot as a group. 

Now, lecture halls are emptying out, and in many classrooms across the country, students can become bored and disengaged. The very educational business model itself is forcing educational institutions to cut costs and find new revenue sources. 

Today, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is opening a new world of opportunities for faculty, staff, and students. Students are learning in new ways, in new places, and with new connections to resources around the globe.

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Two Ways Broadband Internet Is Improving Health Care and Education

This blog was originally published on the Huffington Post ImpactX.

In many parts of the world, being able to download information on a smartphone, tablet or laptop in a few seconds is the norm. In Silicon Valley, wireless high-speed Internet connections are more ubiquitous than Starbucks.

Broadband has changed the way we work, shop, watch movies and communicate with loved ones, allowing us to access more robust types of content, services and applications. Yet if we look beyond our own personal use, we can see that broadband Internet access is not merely a convenience: it is a powerful force for social change.

In education, broadband technology can have a huge impact. Educators face a number of challenges, including teacher shortages, limited access in rural areas and gender disparity. For example, the world would need 3.3 million primary teachers and 5.1 million lower secondary teachers in classrooms by 2030 to provide all children with basic education, according to UNESCO’s 2013-2014 Education For All Global Monitoring Report.

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Cisco-Supported Program Receives Public Service Award

This post was written by guest blogger Alex Belous, Education Portfolio Manager for Cisco Systems and the Cisco Foundation. Alex Belous

Each year, more than 1.4 million people visit the Museum of Science, Boston, where they marvel at exhibits covering everything from aviation to evolution. In 2004, the museum launched the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), a program designed to teach visitors about science and engineering.

Shortly after, the NCTL recognized the need to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and launched Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) in 2005, a project that sparks students’ interest in STEM and helps children in grades 1 through 8 develop engineering and technological literacy.

The NCTL recently received the National Science Board’s (NSB) 2015 Public Service Award, which acknowledged the center’s pioneering work in engineering education curricula for K-12 schools nationwide.

At EiE, students take part in fun, engaging STEM activities (Photo courtesy Boston Museum of Science)

At EiE, students take part in fun, engaging STEM activities (Photo courtesy Boston Museum of Science)

“The center’s innovative exhibits, programs and curricular projects have brought engineering, technology and science to millions of students across the country and provided teachers with the professional training they need for the 21st Century classroom,” said Vint Cerf, chair of NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards.

Since 2005, Cisco has supported the NCTL’s Engineering is Elementary program with $2.1 million in cash and product grants. Through the support of Cisco and other sponsors, the program has grown to be the nation’s most widely used elementary engineering curriculum, reaching 77,000 educators and 7.7 million children nationwide since its release in 2005.

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