NASA, Cisco collaborate on global environmental monitoring

NASA is teaming with Cisco Systems Inc. to deploy a platform that will monitor and evaluate the global environment. The system, dubbed Planetary Skin, will collect and analyze environmental data from a vast array of satellite, sea-based, airborne and land-based sensors and other collection devices deployed worldwide.

“Planetary Skin provides continuous global observations of our home planet using a constellation of spacecraft, as well as airborne and in situ ground observations to monitor the health and well-being of Earth,” NASA officials said in a news release.

NASA will provide the means to collect the data while Cisco will perform data modeling and analysis and provide expertise in constructing a network that can scale to accommodate potentially millions of nodes, data sources and participants.

The developers are motivated by increasing concerns over global climate change and the lack of a coordinated system to facilitate the sharing of data. The project encourages governments, businesses, academic institutions and environmental organizations to share the data they obtain in pursuing their missions. Planetary Skin will be a collaborative platform accessible online by the general public, governments and businesses. The data will be available in near-real time.

Ultimately, the goal of Planetary Skin is to deliver actionable knowledge to decision-makers via a system that correlates data on a variety of environmental conditions and natural resources. The system will enhance the ability of global leaders to detect and mitigate the impact of climate changes in their respective realms, according to information on PlanetarySkin.org. The concept proposes a unifying approach to monitoring, measuring and managing environments in three main areas: rural, rural to urban and urban.

The first phase of the project, called Rainforest Skin, will launch next year. It will help evaluate the role of deforestation in the excess buildup of carbon in the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. The project will be a prototype so developers can learn more about how to properly deploy a vast sensor-based network that unifies a variety of information sources to achieve complex objectives.

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About the Authors

Dan Campbell is a freelance writer with Government Computer News and the president of Millennia Systems Inc.


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