Blog on Technology and Change
In 2010, Mumbai suffered an oil spill along its coast which affected its beach when the oil contaminated the sand. A professor from IIT-Bombay developed technology geared towards separating the oil that had contaminated the sand using movable machinery. IIT went ahead to present the technology for use by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board free of charge. IIT did not get any reply from the board and it is believed they “shelved” the idea. The city suffered another oil spill in 2011 but the MPCB alleges that it did not receive any technology from IIT or the Professor, Dr Shyam Asolekar from the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering.
The technology involves the use of earth movers, concrete tumblers, mixers which could easily be fixed on trucks. The trucks would move to the site and excavate the affected areas. The contaminated sand would then be put in the concrete tumblers where water and surfactants are introduced to clean the sand. The clean sand is then returned to the areas it was extracted from and the water left would then be treated and can be reused to clean more contaminated sand or returned back to sources like rivers. The professor presented the people charged with the responsibility of cleaning the environment with an opportunity to effectively and efficiently solve the problem caused by the oil spill.
This technology would have made work easier for the MPCB who traditionally are required to collect the contaminated sand and transport it to a stationary reactor built far away and bring back the sand when done, but in this case it seems they clearly ignored the technology produced by the Professor from IIT-Bombay.
The makers of the iPhone, Apple had been warned that an application referred to as Gowalla which is a location-sharing iPhone app had been uploading address books belonging to users without informing them of the situation. The address books were uploaded by the application each time the users accessed their contact books using the application. The smart phone company normally performs system upgrades for the phones. These upgrades are directed towards protecting its users form forbidden application actions such as the ones authorized by Gowalla. This upload of private information exposed the users to risks on their personal information and communications. This is because if an attack was launched on the Gowalla system and this information extracted and lands in the wrong hands then the information would be used for harmful purposes at the users’ expense.
Apple ignored warnings from researchers who suggested that the phone company needs to reform their operating system and its application approval process. This was aimed towards locking out some of the applications that expose users to risks. A graduate Student from the University of Carlifornia, Manuel Egele scanned 1,400 iphone applications using a technology referred to as PIOS to determine application interactions with the users’ iphone. The Gowalla application was flagged because it uploaded address books belonging to users who had installed it on their iphones to its company’s servers which are a violation of user privacy.
Apple ignored the student’s findings, who using the PIOS technology found that an application was exposing its users to risks. When this information later reached them they claimed that they knew of no such incursion on their users who interacted with the Gowalla iphone application.
Mukherji, A. (2011, Aug 12). Mumbai: IIT’s beach clean-up technology ignored. The Times of India. Retrived from http:// www. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08 12/mumbai/29880189_1_oil-spill-mpcb-maharashtra-pollution-control-board
Simonite, T. (2012, Feb 16). Apple Ignored Warning on Address-Book Access. Technology Review. Retrived from http:// http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/39746/