Cisco Teams with NASA to Develop 'Planetary Skin'

Cisco Teams with NASA to Develop 'Planetary Skin'

Cisco is using its networking expertise to help NASA develop an online monitoring platform that will collect data from around the world and turn it into useful information needed to address climate change.

The platform -- dubbed "Planetary Skin" -- will monitor satellite, airborne, land- and sea-based sensors from around the world for environmental information that will be accessible to governments, businesses and the general public.

Under the agreement, NASA will cover continuous observation of the sensors while Cisco will tap its networking experience in Internet Protocol architecture, modeling and complex data analysis to scale Planetary Skin to millions of users.

One of the initial pilot projects of Planetary Skin will focus on rainforests and the role they play in slowing and speeding up climate change. "Rainforest Skin" will create a comprehensive sensor network and observe the resulting data -- which will track deforestation and the carbon content of rainforests -- with the goal of presenting it online in a clear and usable way.

According to the project's website, leaders at the World Economic Forum decided that three planks were needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change: a price for carbon, large-scale financing and the development of a trustworthy mechanism used for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV).

"The Planetary Skin MRV infrastructure would enable unlocking $US350 billion per year in 2010-2020 for incremental CAPEX (capital expenditures) required for mitigation and adaptation to climate change," according to the website.

Cisco revealed it is already collaborating with others on the Planetary Skin program, including the United Nations, universities, NGOs, businesses and government agencies.

The announcement was made a week after NASA's Orbiting Carbon observatory failed to launch. The $278 million satellite was designed to measure the Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide in what would have provided a major boost in the amount of data measuring the carbon dioxide cycle.