Science for everyone – Zooniverse

ZooniverserIn line with The Digital Manifest, I would like to introduce an outstanding online project that is open for participation by everyone (878,819 as of today’s count) and helps to contribute not just to the achievements of the scientific community but also to the collection and use of human knowledge world-wide: Zooniverse.

Established by the Citizen Science Alliance, an alliance by English and American universities, laboratories and organizations including National Maritime Museum, The University of Nottingham and The University of Minnesota, Zooniverse features collaborative projects with scientific organizations world-wide, such as NASA, Stanford and Yale.

As such there are projects on to

What makes the above interesting is not just the merely ability of everyone to participate, but also the ease of the same. Each project has a tremendous amount of unprocessed data that it needs to be structured, analyzed and identified. However instead of putting a pile of excel files / raw graphic files / etc. in front of the volunteer, each project has created a graphical interface to create a game-like environment to persuade the user to interact a longer time with the dataset. This involves also a high score system, a ranking system and in the case of the NEEMO project a public recognition of the best contributors.


A snapshot of my own contributions up to now, after a day or two of discovering Zooniverse

A job well done!


The Digital Manifest

Red Fort, Agra, originally uploaded by Azchael.

1. The future of humankind is shaped by the flow and storage of information in what is called nowadays the World Wide Web.

2. Every contribution to the WWW contributes to the increasing value and usability of the collective knowledge of humanking.

3. In order to contribute in an efficient way the following guidelines are to be followed

a) Create new content or enhance existing one

b) Make every contribution free, open content and machine-readable

c) Use the most common language spoken and read (this helps other to get it translated easily)

4. With each individual contribution be it of content nature, of structural nature or of tool-nature, humankings knowledge is growing.

5. Contribution of individuals life’s worth of knowledge can grant that individual recongnition beyond one’s own mortality and until the ened of all humankind.

It is this manifest that I believe in and that I work for and to which I contribute the achievements of my life, as unimportant as they might appear.

— Max-Leonhard von Schaper, April 10th 2013

eMacau – THE potential for Macau to become something else than just a Casino place

The eMacau project (an eGovernment initiative) has the potential for bringing Macau a major step forward in being recognized not just with its gambling industry, but also as a potential haven for IT and new technology companies. Jointly with the United Nations University International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST), the Macau government has assessed and prepared an action plan several years ago (~2006). Since that time, the eMacau project has been quite and silent, with its website seldom reachable and most downloads password protected. Irrespective of the same, the plans of the eMacau project seem to be in a considerable conservative framework also due to the initial’s assessment of available and trained IT manpower in Macau.

The following projects have been started or initialised:

– EGOV Measurement
– Smart City
– EGOV4SD – Foundations
– E-Macao Support
– Government Enterprise Architecture Framework
– Government Information Sharing
– E-Macao Program Management
– IT Leadership and Coordination
– Capacity Building for e-Governance
– Knowledge Management for Government
– Government Portal
– Macao Data Exchange Gateway
– Citizen Relationship Management
– Service Formality Template System
– Strategic Information Technology Planning – Government Agencies
– Strategic Information Technology Planning – Whole of Government
– Strategic Alignment
– Knowledge Management
– Macao e-Government Events
– e-Macao Program Management
– Standards and Best Practices
– EGOV Software Infrastructure
– XML Schema Guide
– e-Macao Single Sign-On
– Citizen e-Government Survey

However, as per my opinion, the impact of the above mentioned projects is not far-reaching enough to enable Macau to make a major step forward. What can be seen at present is a natural evolution of old government structures utilizing ITC technologies to improve operations and work flows. The major impetus, the major impact, the thing that makes both citizens and other governments world-wide over say “wow!” is missing.

Macau has the one decisive factor that decides upon success and failure of most projects: money. With the gambling industry providing the necessary incomes, and the size of citizens and government agencies relatively small and contained, it should be possible to enable ground-breaking steps similar to the impact an Education City (Qatar) can have.

Personally speaking, I believe that Macau could implement an extended version of the above mentioned “e-Macao Single Sign-On” project and not just providing an unique identifier for each citizen to use web-services, but going on step further and attributing a dedicated IPv6  address to each citizen with a dedicated government website for each person. This page would be the single page to address all government services, receive all government messages and could also be a certified mail address for official communication.

Think even one step further and prepare an API for said unique web service and issue the API to banks, insurance companies, embassies and other institutions of major impact in daily life. For many transactions, e.g. opening bank accounts, purchasing insurances, applying visas, etc., documents and proofs are required, that could be easily stored on one personal official website. Similar to how Facebook grants newspapers access to your contact details, a government sponsored website can grant bank and schools access to your birth certificate.

Think even one step ahead and implicate the online website – your personal IPv6 address – as your digital representation and with an open API modules of other websites could be linked into your website, similar to Apps in Facebook that can enable you to make a presentable website for the external world. Granting you the single access for official matters and being your representative voice in the digital world, showing those things you want others to see (be it your radio list or your Flickr account).

Think one step further ahead and instead of a passport number you will only be issued with you IPv6 address. Unique, truly yours and never changing. If a Macau citizen tomorrow could stand up and proclaim his IPv6 address to the embassy for visa application, then everybody else would just say “wow!”.

Having said the above and acknowledging the far-reaching and think tank-like approach of this idea, it is not impossible to implement, but rather a dedicated and unique project to be overseen by competent project managers with intensive knowledge about IT  and government procedures.

To be continued …

Getting and receiving information on railways, rail business opportunities and new market developments.

If one wants to stay up to date in any topic it requires a certain amount of effort. Not to receive information, but to filter it and get the relevant information picked out of the sheer mass of data. The same applies to the railway market.

Using the internet there is however a certain ease in the aggregation of information. In general, to get an overview of any market, there are two approaches:

  • focus on the customer side
  • focus on the supplier side

Customers are feeding the market with demand and needs, therefore allowing the suppliers to deliver. Intensive market studies, researches and enquiries are undertaken every day in each kind of market to filter out relevant data.

Suppliers are usually the technological drivers that develop products and deliver new answers to questions raised (directly or indirectly) by customers worldwide.

In addition to these two approaches there are certain other ways to figure out information on specific topics: Is it a medical issue, there should be hospitals and universities involved. Is it a technical issue, there are certainly independent organizations of engineers around defining standards and norms.

For the global railway market the following ways might be applied to get the latest and hottest data worldwide:

  • usage of existing networks of information gatherers (i.e. magazines)
  • information collection at the source (i.e. suppliers / customers)
  • cross-branch information collection (i.e. not-rail related sources)

Information Gatherers

Information from the source

Due to the sheer number of customers and suppliers the collection of information from the source needs to be taken in steps.  Questioning oneself, what is the exact information I need? Which branch of technology do I want to look into? Which market segment is the relevant for me?

Siemens AG


Deutsche Bahn

North America:
General Electric

Wikipedia is offering a list of railway operators sorted by Continent and country, as well as a ranking of these countries according to the railway network size. An extensive list of rail vehicles manufacturers can be found Wikipedia as well as a  shorter list of rail industry companies.

Cross-branch information


The main effort to stay up-to-date in this specific topic won’t be in the aggregation of information, but rather in the transcription of information into the needed form.