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Mars One project: Lets move to Mars! Here’s your chance to be an Martian!

mars-one-banner-set-1-720_300Mars One, a not-for-profit organization is planning to establish a human settlement in Mars by the year 2023!

Yes, you read that right, they are planning to setup a human settlement and what’s more interesting is that you can apply to be one of the astronaut that will colonize mars. A one way ticket to Mars, to colonize the red planet and live there for the rest of your life!

The mission to Mars is to be carried out without governmental funding and is funded entirely through Media! They plan to telecast every step of the project and thereby fund the Mars Mission. Private Space companies and equipment manufacturers are already part of this project. Interestingly and fittingly, many from the scientific and academic community including Noble Laureates are backing this project. So if you are still wondering if the Mars One Project is feasible and for real, the answer is YES!


Mars One is genuinely looking for new astronauts to take up the one way ticket to mars and  the Base on Mars is scheduled to begin taking shape in 2016 ( the actual colonization will happen only in 2013) and since it is going to be a all out media event, I’m darn sure we are not going to miss the spectacle of our age! If a one-way trip to Mars sounds like your cup of tea or if you simply need to know more, click here for details. No prizes for guessing what was the first question they had on the FAQs – “Is this for Real ?”

Mars has always been a source of fascination and interest for humans, was never too sure whether it was the color of the planet or the closeness to Earth that made it more interesting for us. At least for me, it has been the visual aspect of it. Nevertheless, even Google Inc found it more fascinating than the other planets (Google Earth was first available for Mars besides Earth, right?).. Am I going to apply for this program?! Well, you see my Dad worked on the solar panels that were used on a mars mission a decade ago or so and I intend to do something similar, like writing about it 😉 The Earth is still too dear a place for me to leave it altogether 🙂

Thousands of people have already applied to be a part of this! Space Pioneer! Super Astronaut! Martian Man! Well, these might be the very words that will grab headlines when the astronauts blast off to Mars and who knows it could be one of the our own geoawesome people 😉

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Security and privacy issues of LBS (geo-apps)

liberar2Mobility became part of our personal liberty. Also the market noticed this trend in geo-development and reacted with an increasing availability of location based services that mainly run on our mobile devices. These services enrich our mobility experiences, but at the same time concern our privacy, when service providers are now capable of continuously tracking the location of a user. During a travel I recently was having an interesting discussion about internet security and privacy issues in geo-applications. Although it is not a new concern, I remained surprised hearing that every German email is read by, indeed, U.S. authorities, and not Germans. Triggered by the conversation I decided to write an article about the privacy side of the highly exploding location service sector and mainly refer to an article I found from authors of Yale University/Bell Laboratories/Texas University.

One of the core weak points of a location based service is the service itself, far before the other components of the localisation and communication that e.g. can be rendered secure by using direct signals instead of radio-based localisation or blind signature. However, a safe location based service implies the use of a trustful server. Trustful servers are undesirable for mainly three reasons: (1) many providers do not want to bear the liability that comes with a trustful server, (2) many users are not willing to trust a third party, which may deter the adoption of many location based services and (3) a single trusted server may get a single point of attack and in this case compromise many users’ privacy. We can extract two main scenarios of privacy loss derived from the previous points. In the first one, the service directly transfers the users’ location information to entities, while the second type of service executes calculations that require the input of (user) location(s) and once they are introduced into the system will reveal spatial information on the user (just think of a dating service where you introduce a desired location to find somebody). Knowing this, you can imagine that lots of information ends up in third hands, is stored, analysed (market analysis based on location related activities) and used for diverse purposes.

apps The retrieved information goes far beyond personal privacy. In my opinion, the often stated argument that national security comes before the personal privacy, for instance in the case of tracking criminals and terrorists, does not legitimate that data from everybody is mistreated and used for unwished and unauthorised purposes. However, the authors of the article developed protocols for the mentioned scenarios, in order to prevent from location information disclosure. For the first case, they created a protocol that enables the user to decide which entity can retrieve the user location and for the second one they developed a protocol that accomplishes the desired computations without revealing the users’ location (applying cryptographic operations, direct signals, etc.). They tested their prototypes for a number of practical applications and found that the protocols are suitable for personal mobile devices, in order to protect users’ privacy. Hence, form the technology point of view we would have the possibilities to provide secure services in terms of user privacy. But, in fact it needs the will, demand and persistancy of the user community to be practically implemented.

I wrote this article not to provoke panick, but to inform and make aware of privacy issues concerning technologies that we regularly use. When you buy something from a supermarket you might be interested what is inside your product. The same accounts for the location based services: I think we should be informed about what we frequently use and be aware of the consequences it might have, in order to finally not end up as market and money driven users.


“Privacy-Preserving Location-based Services for Mobile Users in Wireless Networks”, paper by Sheng Zhong , Li (Erran) Li , Yanbin Grace Liu , Yang Richard Yang, (2004)

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