Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Strange cloud heads for Iceland


Google appears to be always thinking about new tools or approaches to make or save money. Lots of these ideas sneak out onto the internet and lots of discussions, articles and opinions get generated. Occasionally, a real product is eventually seen. Way back in 2008 rumours about a Google data centre navy abounded. That particular Times Online article mentions some statistics and reports about data centres and carbon footprint which I have yet to verify. However, other articles and press releases have suggested the data is not without foundation. Here's a quote:

Data centres consumed 1 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2005. By 2020 the carbon footprint of the computers that run the internet will be larger than that of air travel, a recent study by McKinsey, a consultancy firm, and the Uptime Institute, a think tank, predicted.

It was with great interest that I read about a zero carbon foot print data centre being proposed in Iceland. The data centre will not be up and running until next year, but is being built on an old NATO base. Expecting to take advantage of free ambient cooling and 100% renewable electricity verneglobal are predicting substantial reductions in carbon released from day to day operations.

While a great idea, I feel the greatest speed bump in the migration to Iceland is regulation and legislation, or rather the perception of compliance with data privacy laws and in particular the Patriot Act.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ireland's new Baywatch mashup

Due to a new initiative from the EPA you can keep up to-date on the water quality of Ireland's major bays (hence the article title), beaches and rivers. Made possible by some hard work from the clever people at IBM's Water Management Centre of Excellence, Splash provides a great way to research different beaches and decide where to visit based on a number of parameters — water quality, weather, and whether or not a lifeguard is on duty, and so on. You'll note from the spelling of Centre that it is European based. In fact it's current home is right here in Dublin.

The site is a clever mashup of EPA water quality data, which is provided by the local councils, some location data and weather reports from AccuWeather. There also appears to be a Twitter status check as well but I have not seen any data from this actually displayed on the site. The location data includes a description of the area and some images.

For the Oracle offices in Dublin, the nearest beach is Dollymount Strand. The Splash website provides the following description:

Dollymount provides tremendous respite from Dubliners from the vagaries of city living. It is along beach with sweeping views of the Dublin Mountains. This seaside area and wildlife reserve is located north of Dublin Harbour. The strand is connected to the shore by a late 19th century wooden bridge. Dollymount is on the seaward side of Bull Island, one of the most protected pieces of property in Ireland. Cars are allowed on a small section of this beach which is separated from the Blue Flag beach by wooden pilings.

I'm not sure how 'respite from Dubliners' is achieved. Anytime I've been on the beach, at least one Dubliner has been there. The images are also of great interest as the site provides a birds eye view that you can zoom in and out of as well as a photo of the location. No Dubliners, or people for that matter appear in the images, so perhaps that is the respite referred to.
One of the IBM blogs suggests that this form of mashup will be rolled out to other countries in the future. Personally, I think this is a great example of innovation within Ireland and I look forward to seeing more if it.