Thursday, August 27, 2015

A tale of two Open Data bills: SB 272 moves ahead, while SB 573 remains “in suspense”

The California State Assembly Appropriations Committee decided today to send SB 272 on to the Assembly floor, while doing nothing to take SB 573 out of the suspense file, a repository for pending bills.

SB 272, authored by California State Senator (D-Van Nuys) Robert M. Hertzberg, would require local California agencies to catalog and publish a list of their data resources.  SB 573, by California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), would create a Chief Data Officer for the State of California and mandate the creation of a universal state data portal.

Ray Sotero, Communications Director for Senator Hertzberg, told Etopia News this afternoon that SB 272 would probably be taken up by the full Assembly “sometime next week.”

Shannan Velayas Martinez, Communications Director for Senator Pan, told Etopia News this afternoon that “the bill [SB 573] was unfortunately held in suspense in the appropriations committee.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Open Data bill faces reckoning in Appropriations Committee; author commits to open data reform long term

SB 573, by California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, will be re-considered in the California State Assembly Appropriations committee tomorrow, August 27th.  This bill would create the position of Chief Data Officer of the State of California, and mandate the creation of a universal state data portal.

Vendors of the systems that will make this vision a reality demonstrated their wares in the Eureka Room at the State Capitol in Sacramento this morning, accompanied by speeches from Senator Dr. Pan and also from Assemblymember Phil Ting, who supports the bill as well.

According to a press release from the Data Transparency Coalition:  

"The potential for better transparency, better state management, increased economic activity, and lowered compliance costs cannot be realized unless our state chooses to standardize and publish our public data," said Dr. Pan. “SB 573 takes that crucial first step by appointing a Chief Data Officer who will establish an open data portal in the state."

"The technology industry already has the technology to better connect citizens with their government, fight waste and fraud through analytics, and cut compliance costs through automation," said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition. "But these solutions all depend on whether governments choose to adopt common formats and make data consistently available. By supporting open data policies, Dr. Pan and Asm. Ting are enabling new technologies that will transform government and society."

The Data Transparency Coalition followed up this press release with an additional statement that it prepared for Etopia News, in which it said:

“[Dr. Pan] expressed optimism that SB 573 be approved by Appropriations and focused on the next step: whether Gov. Brown will sign SB 573 into law. He encouraged our whole group - tech companies, civic technologists, other advocates - to contact the governor's office in support of open data. Dr. Pan also said he, Asm. Ting, and other supporters are committed to continuing to support open data reforms - ensuring that they will be enacted ultimately, whether through SB 573 or another vehicle.”

Due to the bill's expected cost, it was earlier placed in the "suspense file," from which it will either be taken and sent on to the Assembly floor or be left to expire at Thursday's meeting of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Robot overlords get their own web network to aid coordination, control, and group learning

The best scientists and engineers in the EU and Japan have joined forces to build a central repository for robot software that will allow individual robots to offload heavy computational, storage, and analysis to data centers and rapidly upgrade their own operations through sharing with other robots and using the resources of the data center.

The company that is commercializing this technology is Rapyuta Robotics, based in Zurich, Switzerland, and Tokyo, Japan.

The Rapyuta software was originally developed by the RoboEarth project, sponsored by the European Union.

Right now, the company is concentrating on developing robot sentries, ground-based and aerial, for security purposes.  It plans to expand into inspection services, but says it plans to go far beyond that.

Their team consists of world-class experts in a synergistic combination of disciplines.

Using this system, Uber could coordinate the operations of its fleet of self-driving cars, and the cars would benefit from learning everything that every other car has learned and is learning.  The same goes for self-driving trucks and who-knows-what-other new forms robots and AI may take.

Everything about routes, traffic congestion, and everything known online about the passengers they are shuttling about, from their credit-worthiness to their preferences in music and video would be available to the robot car..

“Welcome back, Honored Guest,” the machine will say.  “We noticed you had some complaints about your last ride/stay/meal/book/video.  We’ve taken your views into account and have addressed the issues of concern to you.  Please accept our apologies for our previous failures.  We will continue to work to satisfy your every need, and, if possible, your every whim.”

With temperature and humidity sensors, and cameras, in the interior of the trucks, the condition and security of the products being shipped could be collected by the robot truck, uploaded to the data center, and provided as needed to those with a need to know.  UPS and FedEx already do this, enabling you to remotely track your shipment from any Internet connection.

One might well ask if there is there a “cloud robotics”-gap.  Where is the United States in developing comparable technology?  No doubt the Department of Defense is developing, or has developed, systems for the simultaneous coordination of drones, but is it equally robust as the RoboEarth/Rapyuta-based system being developed by the Swiss-Japanese company?

As the robots’ sensors channel real-time data to the Rapyuta data center, big data and analytic software can constantly analyze it, and update the distributed robots with better information for them to use in their operations.  This would create a massively-parallel recursively self-improving entity that could eventually evolve into something beyond its creators original intentions.  Or maybe into exactly what they originally conceived.

The core Rapyuta software is open source, maintained and enhanced by the team at Rapyuta Robotics, who will be using this open source Platform-as-a-Service to power their specific security and inspection products and services.  With the combined skills of the best engineers in Europe and Japan, the only question now is when we can see these systems in action.

That question has been posed by Etopia News to Rapyuta Robotics.  Stay tuned for further news.

For additional information about the origins and status of Rapyuta Robotics, click here.

Rapyuta as a precursor, or kernel, for Skynet, is also a theme in Rapyuta Is A Hive Mind For Robots In The Cloud.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

California State Assembly Appropriations Committee refers SB 272 to the Assembly floor, puts SB 573 into the “suspense file” until August 27th

According to staff at the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee, that panel today took the following actions on SB 272, a bill by State Senator Robert Hertzberg to require the cataloging of the data assets of California local government agencies, and SB 573, a bill by State Senator Dr. Richard Pan which would create the position of Chief Data Officer of the State of California and a data portal providing one-stop access to state-held data (subject to proper safeguards, of course):

SB 272 received a “do-pass” vote of 17-0 and was referred to the Assembly floor, where it will be taken up at a time to be determined by Senator Hertzberg, its author, a former Speaker of the California Assembly, and, according to some, now the leading candidate to become the next President pro tem of the State Senate.  His press secretary had, earlier in the week, told Etopia News that he was “hopeful” the bill would get the vote it did.

SB 573, as predicted recently on Etopia News, was put into the “suspense file” and will be taken up officially by the committee on August 27th, eight days from now.  It can safely be assumed that informal discussions will take place about the cost and other elements of this proposed legislation between now and when the bill comes up for official consideration again on the 27th.

On August 26th, the day before SB 573 is taken up again by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the Data Transparency Coalition will present California Data Demo Day in the Eureka Room at the State Capital, as they explain here.

Senator Pan will speak at the event, and exhibitors such as Socrata, a privately-held, Seattle-based company that provides integrated solutions for accessing public sector data, will highlight the possibilities inherent in the move to open data in the public sector.

Data Transparency Coalition issues statement in support of SB 573

The Data Transparency Coalition (DTC) is an industry trade-group of Big Data companies with an interest in the adding of value to open data resources.  You can see their constituent membership here.

SB 573, now pending in the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee, would establish a position of Chief Data Officer of the State of California and mandate the creation of a universal data portal for accessing the datasets that the various state agencies will be called upon to assemble.

Asked by Etopia News for its views on this legislation, the DTC provided this statement:

“SB 573 sets up a structure to dramatically expand the scope of open data publication by California state agencies.

“The business opportunities are not just about republishing government data on platforms, the way the most-commonly cited open data companies, like Zillow for real estate or NerdWallet for finance, do. Many of the companies in our trade association can deploy analytics to assist managers within government or build TurboTax-style solutions to automate regulatory reporting - but only if governments adopt standard formats. So the open data transformation, which involves standardization as well as publication, enables these business models too.”

The automation of regulatory compliance is a service offered by DTC Executive Member Research Data Group.