New Trends in Informatics Research - NTIR

April 9, 2010 The University at Albany | State University of New York

This Year's Research Presenters

Autonomous Entropy-Based Data Collection

Nabin K. Malakar

Autonomous data collection is becoming more critical in many areas of science as we collect data at an ever-increasing rate. This requires that we find a way to collect the most relevant data. Efficient data collection maximizes the expected information gain. Given the learning goal, the Information Entropy quantifies the relevance of incoming data and the expected information gain. We compare two sets of experiments, one which collects data at random and the other which uses an entropic cost function for data collection, and show that the latter is more efficient. In addition, this will be demonstrated by autonomous robot that performs automated data collection. This research was supported by a UAlbany FRAP A grant.


Detecting Digital Forgeries by Exposing Duplicated and Distorted Regions

Xunyu Pan

Region duplication is a common manipulation in digital image forgery where a continuous portion of pixels is copied and pasted to a different location in the same image. Previous region duplication detection methods match pixel blocks to identify exact copies, and are not effective when the duplicated region undergoes geometric and illumination adjustments before being copied to the target location. In this work, we describe an efficient feature matching based technique that automatically detects duplicated regions in a digital image for forensic analysis of its authenticity. The proposed technique is further extended to detect forgeries in video. Our method is robust to geometric and illumination distortions of the duplicated regions and can reliably detect such general cases of region duplication tampering. We quantify the performance of this technique with experimental evaluations, and show the efficacy on several credible forgeries.


Toward Wiki-Government: The Government 2.0 Paradigm of Public Information

Taewoo Nam

This study presents an emerging paradigm of public information, exploring Web-based peer-to-peer collaborative mechanisms like crowd-sourcing, open-source projects, and Wikis. The public information paradigm in the United States has evolved along with the trajectory as follows: [1] governmental collection of information (prioritization of national secrecy before the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed); [2] governmental production of information (democratic response to citizens’ right to know under the FOIA regime); [3] privatized production of information (businesslike reinvention of the New Public Management); and [4] networked production of information (governance and cross-boundary network since around the new Millennium). A primary value on public information has also evolved with paradigmatic change from need-to-keep (the pre-FOIA regime) to need-to-know (the FOIA regime) to need-to-share (from the NPM in 1990s to now) to need-to-create (now and future). Evolving paradigms may all exist concurrently, but an emphasized value has notably changed with information paradigms. The new wave of need-to-create is now flowing into government through transformative and interactive Web 2.0 technologies, which enable government to co-create public information with citizens and to learn from the wisdom of crowds via new collaborative and participatory mechanisms.

Public information is available for peer collaboration, which is a mechanism for effectively collecting wisdom widely dispersed in the population. Crowd-sourcing as an extension of contract-based outsourcing to unlimited voluntary participation by the public is categorized into four types by matching participatory representativeness (large vs. small number of participants) and its consequence (conducive vs. detrimental to society): [1] civic-sourcing (smart information created by many enthusiastic Wikivists), [2] mob-sourcing (mal-information spread by the unconcerned or mis-concerned mass), [3] professionalism (expertise information made by limited elite-driven participation), and [4] fiasco (no conclusion and waste of resources invested due to little attention). For “the more participants, the smarter ideas” principle underlying the need-to-create paradigm, government can adopt three reliable strategies, which are employed through different mechanisms, with different motivators for participation, and under different approaches to human nature of key participants. First, business-oriented crowd-sourcing is appropriate for a popular contest of creative ideas because it appeals to material motivation like cashes and prizes. Second, civic-sourcing as a public-oriented strategy would be successful for Wikis and open-source initiatives, which appreciate voluntary contribution of individual intellects to the public. Lastly, social networking is a social-oriented strategy that draws emotional supports for the workings of government from newly-defined citizen-government relationship (friendship and fanship).


An Exploration of the Relationships of Personal Demographics and Values with Motivations for Contributing to the Open Educational Resources Movement

Namjoo Choi, Lenore Horowitz


To ensure the long-term sustainability of the OpenCourseWare movement, it is critical to understand what motivates educators to join the movement and furthermore what underlies such motivations. From an Interactionist perspective that posits that individuals’ motivations and subsequent behaviors are determined by both situation and personality, we propose a study that aims to explore situational (i. e., personal traits) and dispositional (i. e., personal values) correlates of the motivations for contributing to OpenCourseWare. More specifically, the study will examine how the personal traits (e. g., rank, age) and values (e.g., achievement, self-direction) of contributors are related to the types of motivations for contribution (e.g., reputation, altruism). A web based survey will be administered to the contributors in the member institutions of the OpenCourseWare consortium. The study is expected to provide some insights into the differences in contributors’ motivations across personal demographics that can help educational institutions better facilitate the movement. Also, identifying personal values that underlie contributors’ motivations will enhance our understandings of their aspirations and desires.

Factors Influencing Interorganizational Information Sharing: Comparing US and Saudi Arabia

Mohammed A. Gharawi

As inter-organizational Information Sharing (IIS) has long been recognized as enabler for e-government, this study will address the factors influencing IIS initiatives within Saudi Arabia (SA) context. The study will start by synthesizing the pertinent literature on IIS toward implementing an integrated model for IIS. After that, both quantitative and qualitative research techniques will be used through three phases. First, case study methods will be used to collect and analyze qualitative data related to a major IIS initiative called SADAD. The goal of this phase is to gain initial understanding of the factors influencing IIS initiatives within SA context. Second, survey data from government’s agencies in Saudi Arabia that have participated at least in one IIS initiative will be collected and analyzed. Third, the results will be compared to the findings revealed by a recent study conducted by Center for Technology in Government. The study has the potential to provide better understanding of the factors influencing IIS and how contextual realities moderate the affects of each of these factors. Additionally, the study will has practical implications as it will allow decision makers, within government agencies in Saudi Arabia, set strategies to promote IIS initiatives.

Understanding Mobile Phone Adoption Behavior: A Cross-national Study

Jeongyoon Lee

In this information age, information communication and technologies (ICT) including mobile phone provide significant economic benefits. Also, they generate more opportunities to improve human capital by lower barriers such as time and space constraints and increasing accessibility to the education. In particular, of ICT technologies adoption, it is argued that mobile phone usage has a positive and considerable impact on economic development in developing countries compared to developed countries. At the same context, it offers more significant benefits to the socially disadvantaged people like elderly, poor, and women than personal computer usage. On the other hands, mobile phone usage contributed to develop political participation in that “people power” organized through mobile phone could overthrow a dictator as shown in the case of Philippine and it influenced young people’s political voting behavior and voter mobilization. Thus, mobile phone usage at the national level gets more attention by policymakers and analysts.
Although prior relevant studies have identified a set of explanatory variables that affect ICT adoption, it has not yet fully suggested understandable influential features of mobile phone usage as one of most significant aspects of ICT adoption at cross-national level. With regard to ICT adoption, this paper focuses on mobile phone usage and examines explanatory factors which determine cross-national gap in mobile phone usage.
This research begins with reviewing a number of theoretical discussions on mobile phones’ benefits to the society and determinant factors of mobile phone usage adoption. Next, it suggests a set of hypotheses explaining for mobile phone adoption and research model. Then, it analyzes significant determinant factors in a cross-country setting by employing multivariate regression analysis with 78 countries data in 1997 from Nations, Development, and Democracy data source conducted by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Finally, this empirical approach offers analytic and practical discussions and results and policy recommendations are suggested for policymakers and researchers.


New Techniques for Handling GPS Trajectory Data

Jonathan Muckell, Chris McConnell

Traditionally, research in databases and information retrieval has focused on optimizing the storage, processing and retrieval of text-based information. However, in recent years there has been a strong growth in the amount of data that is not text-based in nature, such as multimedia content and spatial data. Additionally, with enhancements in hardware a large amount of data is collected and transmitted in near real time creating new challenges. Such challenges include lossy/lossless compression, fusing with multiple data sources and processing such data so results are relevant to the user. In particular, new techniques are needed to handle GPS trajectory data which consists of time-stamped location traces from moving objects such as a truck fleet or individuals carrying a cell phone. In this research we compare multiple algorithms for compressing GPS data to determine which compression techniques are more effective for different data sets. We also show how our Internet scale stream processing system called iFlow can be used to process GPS data as it is being collected to provide instant feedback to the user of the system.

This work is being carried out jointly with Professors Catherine Lawson (Departments of Geography & Planning and Informatics), Jeong Hwang, Siwei Lyu and S. S. Ravi (all from the Department of Computer Science). It is supported by a grant from the University Transportation Research Center (UTRC).

Benchmarking an Online Journal: The Journal of the Association for Hisotry and Computing at 10 Years

Xiao Liang

Journals that address the subject of computing and technology find themselves perpetually in a state of flux. Technologies change as do the individuals who use them. In 1998 the Journal of the Association for history and Computing was at the cutting edge of a topic that was just starting to emerge as important and somewhat controversial in academic history publications. As the Journal of the Association for History and Computing has passed its 10th anniversary, this research addresses the topics, authors and citation patterns that have been in place in order to focus on accomplishments and look to where the journal might go in the future. Using content analysis of all journal issues, the authors have analyzed data to look at publication rends. They finish with a set of questions about the future of this born-digital, online publication.


The Policy Implications of Residence Restrictions on Sex Offender Housing in Upstate, NY

Kelly Socia

Only a handful of studies have evaluated how residence restrictions would affect sex offender housing options, and even fewer have compared different residence restrictions to one another. This study analyzed how residence restrictions would affect the housing options of convicted sex offenders in the Upstate, New York region. Combinations of five buffer zone sizes (500 – 2,500 feet) and three scopes of restricted locations resulted in comparisons between fifteen unique residence restriction policies. Neighborhoods (i.e., census block groups) were separated into three grouped based on the percentage of restricted housing parcels they contained under each residence restriction policy (i.e., least, moderate, and most restricted). These groups were compared using ANOVA based on measures of housing density, availability and affordability, and social disorganization.
Results indicate that the least restricted neighborhoods were consistently the least dense and the least disorganized, but the size and scope of a restriction influenced conclusions about the availability and affordability of housing and the overall number of neighborhoods offering substantial unrestricted housing to sex offenders. As a result, how a residence restriction policy affects sex offender housing options can depend largely on the size and scope of the policy in question. When policymakers are unable to devote the resources required to study the effects of a proposed restriction, the results of this study suggest that residence restrictions should be bypassed in favor of other measures that are more evidence-based.


Change in Information Behavior: A Bridge between Access to ICTs and Socio-economic Opportunities for Disadvantaged Women

Devendra Dilip Potnis

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been championed by the United Nations and other international bodies as one of the key media to bring socio-economic opportunities into the lives of disadvantaged populations from developing nations. The dissertation research studies the change in information behavior of users as an intermediate stage between their access to ICTs and the subsequent socio-economic opportunities experienced by them. Cell phone being the fastest spreading information and communication technology in the world, this dissertation explored the role of cell phones in shaping the information behavior of a disadvantaged population. Wilson’s (1997) Global Model of Information Behavior was tested to study the role of cell phones in shaping the information behavior of disadvantaged women from rural India. In the first phase, quantitative data was collected using group-administered surveys which were filled out by 102 women, working at Mahila Gruha Udyog, a domestic business run by women for women, in Bhor, a rural part of India. Unmarried girls (UMG) and women who were married for more than 20 years (MW) emerged as two groups with distinct information behavior. 12 UMG and 10 MW were interviewed on the phone in Marathi, their mother-tongue. The research enriches exiting information behavior theories developed in the West. Research findings could benefit government policy makers, when designing mobile-Governance-related policies and developing implementation details. The private sector could apply research findings for better human-centered designs and interfaces of mobile technologies and devising marketing strategies for sales of mobile devices in developing nations.


Informatics beyond the Information Age

Daniel J. Messier with Dr. Joseph Salvo, GE Global Research

The “Information Age” can be defined as the era in which technology removed the traditional boundaries between individuals and information. Breakthroughs in personal computing and telecommunications technology have made massive amounts of data, information, and knowledge accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. However, the overabundance of data has put a premium on the attention of individuals[1], the traditional consumers of information. As the “Information Age” draws to a close we will now place a higher dependence on the systems of machines that capture, store, analyze, prioritize, process and visualize information. The ability to leverage these systems and achieve information mastery will differentiate government and private organizations in this new “Systems Age”[2]. Successful enterprises in the twenty-first century are those that can not only aggregate data, but also turn the resulting analysis into a competitive advantage. Wal-mart’s analysis of supply chain information, and Google’s web search technology are two well-known examples. The use of informatics within organizations can lead to new products, services, and competitive advantage. Approaches to systems-level information analysis differ and include massive data set search as in Google Suggest, the human-assisted image analysis of reCaptcha[3], and a renewed interest in the field of Artificial General Intelligence[4]. Over the last decade, the Pervasive Decisioning Systems (PDS) at the General Electric Global Research Center laboratory has designed and implemented several large-scale intelligent systems. A notable example of a system developed by PDS is the GE VeriWise telematics system, which enabled real-time tracking of over one hundred and fifty thousand supply chain assets. The resulting data set provided opportunities for additional analysis and services, including frequent trip analysis and backhaul opportunities. Information continues to grow at a rate higher than the available amount of storage. With the continued adoption of IPv6 and the proliferation of machine-to-machine communication, the data deluge continues to grow. The twenty-first century now brings a new set of opportunities for informatics, including the creation and subsequent analysis of enormous amounts of healthcare and public sector data. Rapid technological evolution and intense public policy debate will undoubtedly shape the future directions of Informatics in the “Systems Age”.

New Opportunities. New Challenges

Dr. Suraj Commuri

As graduate students scan the horizon for research opportunities, they often discover social media as vibrant with potential. The interactive nature of social media has exposed new opportunities for research and there is growing interest in such opportunities. At the same time, research in social media also faces challenges that conventional research design does not readily address. This presentation will discuss the research opportunities and the corresponding challenges of working in social media.