I’ve gotten used to being cited in computer science and software engineering papers over the last decade, but here’s a new one. Today I read a draft in which I and the GPSD project get cited a bunch of times and it’s – er – not about open source. It’s about Marine AIS in disaster management. Broadening my deepwater horizons, as it were.
You can read a PDF of Vessel Tracking Using the Automatic Identification System (AIS) During Emergency Response: Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Incident, but be warned that it’s pretty heavy going unless you’re deep into AIS or have a thing for disaster-management porn.
It’s nevertheless interesting on several levels. Kurt Schwehr, the author, writes well for an academic and manages to make the bureaucratically-clogged portions of the narrative less deadly boring than they might have been. Both the low-comedy aspects of government reaction to the disaster and the heroic attempts to cope with the clusterfuck-in-motion come through pretty clearly.
I’m only a supporting player in this story, but the paper does illustrate one point I’ve been hammering on for years. Making standards for life-critical systems proprietary is not just stupid, it’s evil. Kurt reports that some work I and the GPSD project guys did helped prevent that from being a problem in his part of the Deepwater Horizon response, and I’m pleased about that. Next time, though, we might not get so lucky.
Unanswered question: was GPSD running in any of the robot submarines they sent in to try to plug the gusher? Inquiring minds want to know…