IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - September 2017 - 52
spatiotemporal data. It allows
you to bring information together
that's in space and time. So you
can pretty easily find everything
on the web today, including locations that are close to where you
live, for example.
But it's a completely different
task to ask where you'd like to live.
You can see in a magazine the 10
best places in America to live, but
that's very nonsystematic. So you
have to develop a profile: "I want
to live right where there are a lot of
Italian restaurants, where it's not
too hot, it's not too cold but I would
still like a little bit of the seasons."
Then you would search a large
spatiotemporal data set. With the
macroscope, we'll make all of that
data much more searchable and
ISM: Stupid question, but
what makes it so difficult to
index space and time?
HH: Anything in the physical
world happens in either space
and/or time. That may sound like
a trivial thing, but when you really
start thinking about information
in space and time, it's not that
easy. For example, with space,
there are different map projections
because the earth is neither round
The IBM Research team working on building the world's first platform for collecting, curating
and searching global data by space and time includes, from left to right, Rong Chang, Hendrik
Hamman, Xiaoyan Shao, Marcus Freitag, Ildar Khabibrakhmanov and Siyuan Lu.
nor spherical, etc. And if you want
to link things in space, things are
moving. Continental plates are
moving in space and moving in
time, so actually making links in
space and time is very complex.
Data size creates another issue.
Global weather data, for example,
represents tens of terabytes every
IBM 5 in 5
1. Methane sensors
2. Cognitive systems using words and speech patterns to assess mental health
3. Medical lab technology on the nanoscale
4. Macroscopes to understand Earth's complexity
5. Hyper imaging and AI
Read about the innovations: research.ibm.com/5-in-5
52 // SEPTEMBER 2017 ibmsystemsmag.com
day. That makes it very difficult
to make information such as this
searchable and discoverable.
We have to make big progress
towards digitizing the physical
world through the IoT and then
make that information much more
accessible, discoverable, etc.
ISM: How would you collect
the necessary data to make
the macroscope feasible?
HH: We, for example, subscribe to
pretty much every satellite service
available. Satellites are producing
images, some every 15 minutes,
over large fractions of the globe.
The U.S. government has a couple
of very nice satellites that anyone
can access, but the data is sitting
in large files and is completely
undiscoverable. So, for example,
if I wanted to search for something
in satellite images files, which are
typically gigantic, I would have to
open and look through each one
of them. This is like in the old days
when, if you went to the library,