We are currently living in the so-called information age which can be described as an era were economic activities are mainly information based (an age of informationalization). This is due to the development and use of technology. The main characteristics of this era can be summarized as a rise in the number of knowledge workers, a world that has become more open - in the sense of communication (global village/Gutenberg galaxy) and internationalization (trans-border flow of data).
This paradigm shift brings new ethical and juridical problems which are mainly related to issues such as the right of access to information, the right of privacy which is threatened by the emphasis on the free flow of information, and the protection of the economic interest of the owners of intellectual property.
The Concept of Privacy
Privacy means different things, depending on its context. The growth of information technology, and the internet, raises concerns about "information privacy". This phrase addresses the individual's claim to control how their "personal information" about them - another idea of uncertain proportions - is acquired, disclosed and used.
Privacy has many connotations—control over information, access to one’s person and property, and the right to be left alone. In political discourse, the term “privacy” has been used to refer to physical privacy in the home or office, the ability to make personal reproductive decisions without interference from government, freedom from surveillance, or the ability to keep electronic communications and personal information confidential. For many, privacy is regarded as a fundamental value and right, tied to ideals of autonomy, personal worth, and independence. Privacy is often seen as a necessary condition for keeping personal and public lives separate, for individuals being treated fairly by governments and in the marketplace, and for guaranteeing spaces where individuals can think and discuss their views without interference or censure.
As such privacy could be regarded as a natural right which provides the foundation for the legal right. The right to privacy is therefore protected under private law.
Privacy is an important right because it is a necessary condition for other rights such as freedom and personal autonomy. There is thus a relationship between privacy, freedom and human dignity. Respecting a person's privacy is to acknowledge such a person's right to freedom and to recognize that individual as an autonomous human being.
The duty to respect a person's privacy is furthermore a prima facie duty. In other words, it is not an absolute duty that does not allow for exceptions.
Different Categories of Private Information
Based on the juridical definition of privacy, two important aspects which are of specific relevance for the information profession must be emphasized. The first is the fact that privacy as a concept is closely related to information. Privacy refers to the entirety of facts and information which is applicable to a person in a state of isolation. The fact that privacy is expressed by means of information, implies that it is possible to distinguish different categories of privacy namely, private communications, information which relates to the privacy of a person's body, other personal information, and information with regard to a person's possessions. Each of these categories will be briefly dealt with:
· Private Communications. This category of privacy concerns all forms of personal communication which a person wishes to keep private. The information exchanged during a reference interview between the user and the information professional can be seen as an example.
· Privacy of the body. This normally refers to medical information and enjoys separate legal protection. A person has the right to be informed about the nature of an illness as well as the implications thereof. Such a person further has the right to privacy about the nature of the illness and cannot be forced to make it known to others. The only exception is when the health, and possibly the lives of others may be endangered by the specific illness - such as the case may be where a person is HIV positive and the chance exists that other people may contract the virus. This category of information is of specific importance for an information professional working in a medical library.
· Personal information. Personal information refers to those categories of information which refer to only that specific person, for example bibliographic (name, address) and financial information. This type of information is of relevance to all categories of information professionals.
· Information about one's possessions. This information is closely related to property right. According to this a person does have control over the information which relates to personal possessions in certain instances.
Technological change refers to major differences in the technological environment of today as compared to that existing many decades ago (and which has a major influence on today’s social and legal regime governing privacy). The hardware underlying information technology has become vastly more powerful; advances in processor speed, memory sizes, disk storage capacity, and networking bandwidth allow data to be collected, stored, and analyzed in ways that were barely imaginable a decade ago. Other technology drivers are just emerging, including sensor networks that capture data and connect that data to the real world. Increasingly ubiquitous networking means that more and more information is online. Data stores are increasingly available in electronic form for analysis. New algorithms have been developed that allow extraction of information from a sea of collected data. The net result is that new kinds of data are being collected and stored in vast quantities and over long periods of time, and obscurity or difficulty of access are increasingly less practical as ways of protecting privacy. Finally, because information technologies are continually dropping in cost, technologies for collecting and analyzing personal information from multiple, disparate sources are increasingly available to individuals, corporations, and governments.
THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE PROCESSING OF PERSONAL AND PRIVATE INFORMATION
Information technology as a concept can be defined as the gathering, organizing, storage and distribution of information in various formats by means of computer and telecommunications techniques based on micro-electronics.
The rapid advancement in information technology over the past decade has threatened individual privacy.
Today, especially in western societies more people are employed collecting, handling and distributing information than in any other occupation. Millions of computers inhabit the earth and many millions of miles of optical fiber, wire and air waves link people, their computers and the vast array of information handling devices together. Our society is truly an information society, our time an information age.
What information should one be required to divulge about one's self to others? Under what conditions? What information should one be able to keep strictly to one's self? These are among the questions that a concern for privacy raises. Today more than ever cautious citizens must be asking these questions.
The growth of information technology, with its enhanced capacity for surveillance, communication, computation, storage, and retrieval.
Most invasions of privacy creep up on us slowly as, for example, when a group of diverse files relating to a person and his or her activities are integrated into a single large database. Collections of information reveal intimate details about a person and can thereby deprive the person of the opportunity to form certain professional and personal relationships. This is the ultimate cost of an invasion of privacy. So why do we integrate databases in the first place. It is because the bringing together of disparate data makes the development of new information relationships possible. These new relationships may be formed, however, without the affected parties' permission. You or I may have contributed information about ourselves freely to each of the separate databases but that by itself does not amount to giving consent to someone to merge the data, especially if that merger might reveal something about us.
The threat to privacy here is one that many of us don't fully appreciate. It stems from the collection of attributes about ourselves and use of the logical connector "and". For example, I may authorize one institution to collect information "A" about me, and another institution to collect information "B" about me; but I might not want anyone to possess "A and B" about me at the same time. When "C" is added to the list of conjunctions, the possessor of the new information will know even more about me. And then "D" is added and so forth. Each additional weaving together of my attributes reveals more and more about me. In the process, the fabric that is created poses a threat to my privacy.
The impact of the use of technology on the privacy of people manifests itself in a variety of areas. These areas include, inter alia the following:
· The electronic monitoring of people in the workplace. This relates to personal information. This is done by so-called electronic eyes. The justification by companies for the use of such technology is to increase productivity. Peoples' privacy in the workplace are threatened by these devices. It can also lead to a feeling of fear and of all ways being watched - the so-called panopticon phenomenon.
· The interception and reading of E-mail messages. This poses an ethical problem which relates to the private communication of an individual. It is technically possible to intercept E-mail messages, and the reading thereof is normally justified by companies because they firstly see the technology infrastructure (E-mail) as a resource belonging to the company and not the individual, and secondly messages are intercepted to check on people to see whether they use the facility for private reasons or to do their job.
· The merging of databases which contains personal information. This is also known as data banking. By this is meant the integration of personal information from a variety of databases into one central database. The problem here does not in the first place arise from the integration of the information as such. The main problems include the fact that the individual is not aware of personal information being integrated into a central database, that the individual does not know the purpose/s for which the integration is effected, or by whom or for whose benefit the new database is constructed and whether the information is accurate.
· Closely related to the merging of files is the increasing use of buying cards ("frequent-shopper cards") by retail stores. Inside such a card a computer chip is buried that records every item purchased along with a variety of personal information of the buyer. This information obtained from the card enables marketing companies to do targeted marketing to specific individuals because the buying habits as well as other personal information of people are known.
· Another major threat to privacy is the raise of so called hackers and crackers which break into computer systems. This coincides with the shift in ethical values and the emergence of the cyberpunk culture with the motto of "information wants to be free".
· The development of software that makes the decoding of digital information (which can be private information) virtually impossible also poses serious legal as well as ethical questions because it can protect criminals. A good example is the development of software called Pretty Good Privacy by P Zimmerman in 1991.
The use of technology for the processing of personal and other forms of private information has far reaching effects on society. The following effects can be distinguished:
· On the individual level: The effect on the individual can be summarized as a loss of dignity and spontaneity, as well as a threat to freedom and the right to privacy.).
· On the economic and social levels the biggest effect is the growth of large information businesses like credit bureau and telecommunication companies that specialize in the processing and trade of person-related information. This brings about a redefinition of the role of society (big businesses) in the personal and private lives of the individual (the use of personal information as a commodity). It also becomes clear that the legislation (for example on E-mail) on the protection of the privacy of the individual is falling behind due to the rapidly changing world of technology.
Information Privacy Need
The need for information privacy is based on two propositions.
First, that control over our personal information is important because mere awareness by others of certain types of information is potentially harmful.
Second, that personal information can be used improperly, unfairly or for purposes other than those intended by an individual.
The erosion of information privacy by technology occurs in three ways:
- Greater Access to Information.
This is not simply because previously confidential information is now public, but rather because technology is changing what "public" means. Computer networks ensure that "public access" can mean the entire on-line world.
- Collection of Information
The power of electronic databases to collate and share otherwise meaningless information allows an extensive profile of an individual to be created.
- Storage of Information
The ubiquity of information technology allows more and more redundant information about us to be kept for longer periods.
Tools for Protecting Privacy
There are many pressures to diminish privacy, regardless of how the term is defined, but there are also a number of tools available to help protect privacy. These tools fall into three generic categories:
· Personal unilateral actions (self-help). When information collectors rely on individuals themselves to provide personal information, these individuals can take action to withhold that information. They can refuse to provide it at all, or they can provide false, misleading, or incomplete information.
· Technology. Technical measures can protect privacy as well, although a relevant question is who decides to implement any given technical measure. From an individual standpoint, encryption and anonymizers are today the primary privacy protecting technologies. That is, encryption of personal information can be used to ensure that such information can only be accessed with the express permission of the subject of that information, and that communications cannot be seen by others than those taking part in the communication. Anonymizers (e.g., antispyware tools, anonymous browsers) allow an individual to explore cyberspace (e.g., using e-mail, viewing Web sites) with a high degree of anonymity. In addition, antispam and anti-phishing technologies help individuals to be left alone and reduce the leakage of personal information.
· Policy. Policy measures, by which are meant actions that information collectors can or must take, are arguably the most important privacy protection tool. That is, privacy is much more an issue of who is permitted to see an individual’s personal information than of technologically restricting access to that information. People may be concerned about personal health and medical information being improperly disclosed, but this problem may arise at least as much as a result of policy decisions to make such information broadly accessible to relevant parties as from the activities of hackers breaking into medical databases.
The objective of human security is to protect the vital core of all human lives from critical and pervasive threats in a way that is consistent with long-term human fulfillment. Aiming for global human security then implies a confrontation with the “menaces that threaten the survival, daily life, and dignity of human beings” and a strengthening of the efforts to overcome the obstacles to security.
In spite of profound increases in human security deriving from technological development, the history of technology does not inspire confidence that further technological development can reduce fear and want because technology is itself the source of terrible, global threats, nuclear arms; biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction toxic or lethal by-products of industrial and energy generating processes products that threaten the viability of the ecosystem
The reason for such technological threats lies with the location of science and advanced technology in the global political/economic system. This location has allied technological development with capital thus governments and private corporations are the primary stakeholders in, and beneficiaries of, technological innovation. Power bestows ideological legitimacy, making this scenario seem inevitable. Industrial development is equated with sustained economic growth, which is equated with economic security which is equated with human security. Thus we have a world in which technological development is driven by the pursuit of power and profit, the results of which are then conflated with societal advancement.
The hegemony of this logic is itself the source of human insecurity. First and foremost, in the present ideological context, technological development actually exacerbates the profound divide between “haves” (sectors of society that are included in development) and “have nots” (those excluded from social progress). Governments of developing countries are forced to integrate into the global economy on unfavorable terms that ultimately increase their dependence on technologically advanced societies. The reward of technology transfer has proven elusive at the same time that indigenous technological development has often been abandoned. The end result is that increasing masses of people are reduced to living in absolute poverty alienated absolutely from any benefits of the new technologies that are sweeping the globe. Bypassed by the industrial revolution and the information revolution, they eke out an existence using pre-industrial technologies.
Computers today have become a significant part of our lives. As more and more people begin to live their lives online by shopping, working and storing vital information it becomes extremely important to find a solution against attacks on this information. Information technology security is very important to keep personal and business information safe from these malicious attacks.Information technology security plays a very important role in creating the atmosphere that is needed for e-commerce and even e-government activities. Projects involving education, health or finances simply need a secure solution to the problems that many internet users are facing. They need to understand how to spot and avoid malicious software and secure their services over networks, which tools are best for security enhancement and the role of encoding and encryption. Organizations have responsibilities to protect their information as well.
Like many other technologies, information technology can be used both to promote security and to threaten the same. On the positive side, it can be used to disseminate and exchange ideas and strategies for security, to gather support for peace missions and security programs, and to implement and coordinate security plans and operations. It has played an important role, for example, in the international campaign to ban land mines and is used by governments and their citizens to foster peace and security throughout the world. It is a critical element of all government security operations, from intelligence collection to command and control. It is used to hunt down terrorists and implement border controls.
On the negative side, information technology can be attacked and exploited in ways that threaten security. An adversary can jam or take down computer and communications systems with physical weapons such as bombs, missiles, and electromagnetic weapons; use mass media to propagate lies to the entire world; and penetrate or attack computer networks for the purpose of stealing secret information or sabotaging data and systems.
Computer-related security incidents threaten the national and global economy. In addition to causing direct financial losses, they can erode public confidence in e-commerce and technology in general. Attacks against military systems can affect national security, particularly if they compromise classified information or impact important military operations. Attacks against critical infrastructures, such as those used to provide power or water, can have potentially devastating consequences on our daily lives. Although cyber attacks against these infrastructures have so far been limited, the potential for serious harm is real.
TECHNOLOGY TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS
The growing threat from cyber attacks can be attributed to trends and developments in information technology. These seven trend areas: ubiquity, groundedness, mobility, hacking tools, performance, vulnerabilities, and information security.
Information technology is becoming increasingly pervasive and connected. It is spreading throughout the world, in both our homes and workplaces. It is integrated into everything from appliances and vehicles to processes and infrastructures. Automation and connectivity are growing in leaps and bounds, aided by advances in computing and telecommunications technology. Much of the growth and connectivity is taking place on the Internet and the private IP networks operated by organizations and their extended enterprises.
This trend toward ubiquitous computing is exacerbating the challenges of information security. There are more perpetrators, more targets, and more opportunities to exploit, disrupt, and sabotage systems. There are more Web sites with information and tools for attacking information and systems.
The impact is partially illustrated by the rapid and widespread propagation of computer viruses and worms. The ILOVEYOU virus infected the personal computers of tens of millions of users worldwide. All a recipient had to do to activate the virus was open an e-mail message containing the virus as an attachment. Once activated, the virus spread through e-mail to all of the persons listed in the user’s address book
Another impact of the spread of technology is that cyber attacks can come from almost anywhere in the world. Neither distance nor geography is a factor. An attacker in China, for example, can penetrate a system in the United States, and then use that as a launching pad to attack a system in
Japan. It is not unusual for hackers to “loop” through computers in multiple targets on their way to their ultimate target. This conceals their tracks and makes investigations extremely difficult, because it requires cooperation from law enforcement agencies and service providers in all countries involved.
Another effect of the spread of information technology is that many conflicts in the world now have a cyberspace component. For example, as Palestinian rioters clashed with Israeli forces in the fall of 2000, Arab and Israeli hackers took to cyberspace to participate in the action.
According to the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, the cyber war began in October, shortly after the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah movement abducted three Israeli soldiers. Pro-Israeli hackers responded by crippling the guerrilla movement’s Web site, which had been displaying videos of
Palestinians killed in recent clashes and which had called on Palestinians to kill as many Israelis as possible. Pro-Palestinian hackers retaliated, shutting down the main Israeli government Web site and the Israeli Foreign Ministry Web site. From there the cyber war escalated. An Israeli hacker planted the Star of David and some Hebrew text on one of Hezbollah’s mirror sites, while pro-Palestinian hackers attacked additional Israeli sites, including those of the Bank of Israel and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. In addition to Web defacements, hackers launched denial of service attacks against Internet service providers and other sites. The attacks continued for many months following.
Cyberspace and the Internet specifically, is often viewed as a virtual world that transcends space and time, a world without borders and, by implication, border guards. This view has never been completely accurate, as computers reside in a physical world where laws apply, and many countries control access to the Internet or filter incoming e-mail and access to Web sites.
Over time, computer networks became increasingly integrated into real world processes. Now, these networks play a critical role in practically every sector of the economy and government operation. Thus, attacks on these networks have real-world consequences. Governments are particularly concerned with terrorist and state-sponsored attacks against the critical infrastructures that constitute their national life support systems. Banks and financial systems are a popular target of cyber criminals. The usual motive is money, and perpetrators have stolen or attempted to steal tens of millions of dollars. Computer viruses and worms have disrupted operations on systems used to coordinate and control the business processes associated with critical infrastructures. The Code Red worm, for example, was responsible for the delay of 55 Japan Airlines flights on August 9, 2001. The computer shut down caused by the worm affected ticketing and check-in-services for the carrier and its affiliates.
The impact of all these developments is that cyber attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in IP networks will have real-world consequences, beyond the basic costs and inconveniences they already incur. They could seriously endanger lives and the environment. Information security will become increasingly important, not only to protect information and systems, but to protect life itself. Most of the attacks today involve personal computers and Internet servers, but tomorrow’s attacks could involve automobiles, wearable devices, and Internet appliances, with potentially more serious, even deadly consequences.
Information and information technology has become increasingly mobile. People and devices can be anywhere and they can move. Software and data can be stored and transmitted anywhere and at any time through electronic mail, the Web, and peer-to-peer sharing. Mobility has generally made the task of protecting information more difficult. It has extended an organization’s network security perimeter from the workplace to homes, airports, and hotel rooms. Information once confined to office networks can make its way to home PCs, laptop computers, and handheld devices, which may be less protected physically. Each year, tens of thousands of laptops are reported lost or stolen, many with extremely sensitive information, including government classified information.
Mobile software poses a major security challenge. Computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other forms of malicious code can and do enter computers through e-mail, the Web, and other Internet portals. They account for a substantial portion of all computer security incidents and can spread at alarming rates. Wireless communications allow small, battery-operated devices to tie into computer networks. These may be vulnerable to a new type of denial-of-service attack, namely one that attempts to keep a device active (as opposed to “sleep” mode) in order to drain its battery.
The tools and methods used to attack computer networks have been getting more abundant. They are readily acquired from numerous Web sites in countries all over the world. Typing “hacking tools” into one Internet search engine yielded 42,012 hits in March 2000. By September 2001, the same search engine yielded 158,000. By some estimates, there are now over 60,000 computer viruses alone. For a few dollars, anyone can buy a disk with thousands of them.
Attack tools have become more powerful as developers build on each other’s work and program their own knowledge into the tools. The Nimda worm combines features from several previous viruses and worms in order to create a powerful worm that spreads by four channels: e-mail, Web downloads, file sharing, and active scanning for and infection of vulnerable Web servers. The e-mail component automatically e-mails itself to addresses in the victim’s address book.
Many attack tools are simple to use. “Script kiddies” and others with malicious intent but little skill can download the tools and launch destructive attacks without even understanding how the tools work. E-mail worms can be constructed with windows-based software such as the VBS Worm Generator. All the attacker needs to do is type in a subject line and message body for the e-mail message carrying the worm and check a few boxes. Many of the tools support mass attacks against a single target or against multiple targets simultaneously. The computers involved in these attacks may be compromised themselves, as in the case of zombies.
Information technology is getting smaller, faster, cheaper, and more powerful. Processor speeds are doubling approximately every 18 months according to Moore=s law. This yields a factor of 10 improvements every 5 years and a factor of 100 improvements every 10. Storage capacity is increasing at a somewhat faster rate, doubling about every 12 months, and network capacity is growing still faster, doubling approximately every 9 months. One implication of these performance trends is that spies can download secret documents faster and from repositories that are getting larger. Those with high-speed Internet access can acquire megabytes of information in just a few seconds.
At the same time, high bandwidth data pipes and increased network traffic can make it more difficult to monitor networks for intrusions and other forms of abuse and to intercept particular traffic in support of a criminal investigation or foreign intelligence operation. Similarly, it can be harder to scan disks for viruses and other forms of malicious code and to conduct computer forensics examinations if more data is stored.
Information technology is growing in complexity, owing to advances in technology and software development and the growing number of components to build upon. Systems are larger and have increasing numbers of components, features, and interactions. Many feature interactions are not anticipated. This growing complexity has made it extremely difficult to develop and deploy information technology products that are free of vulnerabilities. Even if a particular component is hardened against attack, the component may interact with new or upgraded components in ways that introduce new vulnerabilities. Experience has shown time and again that it is impossible to eliminate all vulnerabilities from computer systems despite our best efforts to the contrary. Even our most trusted firewalls and other security products have been found to have weaknesses. Nothing seems to be immune.
As information systems become “smarter” and more “like us,” they may also become more vulnerable to attack. Humans are riddled with vulnerabilities. We can be robbed, killed, deceived, and bribed. Intelligent software agents may exhibit similar vulnerabilities as they mimic their human counterparts. There is really no reason to believe that smarter systems will necessarily mean increased security.
The bottom line is that we will never have secure systems. The underlying technology will always have vulnerabilities and people will make mistakes. Further, insiders with access to information will commit intended acts of espionage and sabotage. Thus, an important component of any security program is a capability to detect and respond to security breaches that do occur.
Security technologies have advanced considerably in such areas as cryptography, biometrics, intrusion detection, anti-viral protection, decoy environments, vulnerability scanning, and incident response. In addition, companies now offer managed security services, including remote monitoring for vulnerabilities and intrusions. While these advances have no doubt helped ward off numerous attacks, overall they have not kept up with the rising threat, as witnessed by the incident data presented earlier.
If trends continue, the prognosis for the future is not encouraging. We can expect to see more attacks, and more mass attacks. In the area of e-mail viruses and worms alone, Message Labs, which observed an e-mail virus infection rate of 1 in 300 messages in 2001 forecast a possible rate of 1 in 100 in 2004, 1 in 10 in 2008, and 1 in 2 in 2013. If that transpires, the Internet could become unusable.
Many of the attacks will be financially motivated. They will be the work of organized crime and lone criminals, as well as terrorist groups seeking to fund their activities. The attacks may involve banking fraud, credit card fraud, extortion, stock manipulation, scams, and theft of intellectual property, all of which can be extremely costly. Besides the direct and indirect costs to the victims, these crimes can undermine confidence in the Internet and e-commerce, ultimately impacting the economy.
The vast majority of attacks may continue to be the work of teenagers and young adults, motivated more by thrill, curiosity, challenge, and bragging rights than by money or the desire to cause harm. They may seek recognition in the hacking community or media attention. They may use hacking as a means of protest, defacing Web sites and attempting to shut down the computers of their targets. Even those that not intend to be malicious, however, can cause serious harm. Computer viruses and denial-of-service attacks especially can take a heavy toll on businesses and users.
Technological innovations specifically aimed at reducing pollution-from cleaner manufacturing processes to flue gas scrubbers to catalytic converters-now figure prominently in mitigating some of the growing pains of an increasingly technological world.
Technology, in other words, is a double-edged sword-one capable both of doing and undoing damage to environmental quality. In what follows, we look at technology and the environment in four key areas: energy, climate, water quality, and waste cleanup. In each case, we illustrate the dual nature of technology's environmental implications. We also touch on the emerging relationship between the Internet and environmental quality, one that again seems to cut both ways. We then note how technology is helping to fashion policies that allow producers and consumers to recognize and internalize the environmental costs of technology and thus to spur innovation to clean up the environment. .
The Industrial Revolution brought forth extraordinary gains in financial prosperity. Yet rapid industrialization left in its wake darkened noontime skies, noisy and unsafe machinery, and severely compromised living conditions.
Having dirtied the earth, air, and water for more than a century, technology is now showing promise in environmental cleanup. Technological innovations specifically aimed at reducing pollution-from cleaner manufacturing processes to flue gas scrubbers to catalytic converters-now figure prominently in mitigating some of the growing pains of an increasingly technological world.
Technology, in other words, is a double-edged sword-one capable both of doing and undoing damage to environmental quality.
All the world's economies continue to face big challenges in using energy-the lifeblood of the industrial age-while maintaining environmental quality. Energy efficiency is much greater than ever before, growth in the economy has assured rising energy consumption. While the average fuel efficiency of new passenger cars has more than doubled since 1975, the environmental gains are increasingly offset by the popularity of lower-mileage light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles, increases in miles traveled per vehicle, and large increases in vehicle ownership. .
Nonetheless, technology-impelled by economic, regulatory, and environmental pressures-has made possible impressive reductions in vehicular emissions of volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide per mile traveled. Reductions in both by 70-80 percent since 1977 would not have been possible without substantial innovations in, most notably, electronics. Here, the development of sensors that can closely calibrate energy use to demand has meant that both modern engines and industrial motors can be operated much more efficiently.
Discussions of energy use lead naturally to the question of how it may be affecting the earth's climate. In the developed countries, the energy sector accounts for high percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, with energy-related carbon dioxide alone. Greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of coal and petroleum in electricity generation and transportation, respectively. But two newer technologies, fuel cells and small, single-cycle gas turbines-induced by economic and environmental considerations as well as by innovation policy-offer substantial environmental advantages over traditional, large, centralized power plants. Local generation by smaller plants can not only reduce transmission losses, but also improve air quality since they can be fueled by hydrogen and natural gas-much cleaner than coal on a per kilowatt hour basis. If fuel cells become widely adopted in transportation, emissions will plunge there too. .
Air quality and climate change are the dominant, but not the only, environmental issues relating to energy use and production. Industrial and vehicular emissions, particularly of nitrogen oxides, are also detrimental to water quality. Nitrogen deposition acts as a fertilizer and promotes the growth of algae in lakes, rivers, and estuaries, creating eutrophic conditions that kill submerged aquatic vegetation. Even more serious is the agricultural runoff of pesticides, fertilizer, and animal waste.
Similar concerns surround the technology of bioremediation. Naturally occurring microorganisms have long been used to break down human, agricultural, industrial, and municipal organic wastes. Now, genetically engineered organisms are being used to treat not only industrial effluent, but also wastewater, contaminated soil, and petroleum spills. Bioremediation treats about 5-10 percent of all toxic chemicals and other hazardous waste; has successfully treated oil, gasoline, toluene, naphthalene, pentachlorophenol (a fungicide and wood preservative), and agricultural waste
Contaminants under buildings include volatile compounds (VOCs) such as tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethane (TCA), and their breakdown products including trichlorothylene (TCE), as well as the heavy metal, lead. VOCs in groundwater, as their name suggests, volatilize and often rise into buildings, putting the occupants at risk. This is referred to as “vapor intrusion”. Volatile contaminants are also present in outdoor air. The health risk associated with exposure to the various VOCs found depends of course, on the dose and duration of exposure.
Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use. Ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed.
Ergonomics is the science of designing user interaction with equipment and workplaces to fit the user. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries. Ergonomics is concerned with ‘fit’ between people and their technological tools and environments. It takes account of the user’s capabilities and limitations in seeking to ensure that tasks, equipment, information and environment suit each user.
Ergonomics is the study of human performance and its application to the design of technological systems. The goal of this activity is to enhance productivity, safety, convenience and quality of life. Ergonomics as a science is concerned with developing knowledge about human capabilities, limitations, and other characteristics as relate to the design of the interfaces between humans and other system components.
Ergonomics is an approach which puts human needs and capabilities at the focus of designing technological systems. The aim is to ensure that humans and technology work in complete harmony, with the equipment and tasks aligned to human characteristics.
Despite significant investments in information technology in developed nations over recent decades, concern exists over the extent to which such expenditures have produced the intended benefits. At least part of this concern is based around the issue of whether any information technology is accepted by its intended users. Human factors professionals are interested in understanding the determinants of acceptance and ensuring new designs are built and implemented so as to minimize resistance. This concern has extended the traditional ergonomic concern with usability, or ability to use, to cover acceptance, or willingness to use.
Ergonomics has a wide application to everyday domestic situations, but there are even more significant implications for efficiency, productivity, safety and health in work settings. For example:
· Designing equipment and systems including computers, so that they are easier to use and less likely to lead to errors in operation - particularly important in high stress and safety-critical operations such as control rooms. Designing tasks and jobs so that they are effective and take account of human needs such as rest breaks and sensible shift patterns, as well as other factors such as intrinsic rewards of work itself.
· Designing equipment and work arrangements to improve working posture and ease the load on the body, thus reducing instances of Repetitive Strain Injury/Work Related Upper Limb Disorder.
· Information design, to make the interpretation and use of handbooks, signs, and displays easier and less error-prone.
· Design of training arrangements to cover all significant aspects of the job concerned and to take account of human learning requirements.
· The design of military and space equipment and systems - an extreme case of demands on the human being. Designing working environments, including lighting and heating, to suit the needs of the users and the tasks performed. Where necessary, design of personal protective equipment for work and hostile environments.
The multi-disciplinary nature of ergonomics (sometimes called 'Human Factors') is immediately obvious. The ergonomist works in teams which may involve a variety of other professions: design engineers, production engineers, industrial designers, computer specialists, industrial physicians, health and safety practitioners, and specialists in human resources. The overall aim is to ensure that our knowledge of human characteristics is brought to bear on practical problems of people at work and in leisure. We know that, in many cases, humans can adapt to unsuitable conditions, but such adaptation leads often to inefficiency, errors, unacceptable stress, and physical or mental cost.
The components of ergonomics
Ergonomics deals with the interaction of technological and work situations with the human being. The basic human sciences involved are anatomy, physiology and psychology; these sciences are applied by the ergonomist towards two main objectives: the most productive use of human capabilities, and the maintenance of human health and well-being. In a phrase, the job must 'fit the person' in all respects, and the work situation should not compromise human capabilities and limitations.
The contribution of basic anatomy lies in improving physical 'fit' between people and the things they use, ranging from hand tools to aircraft cockpit design. Achieving good physical fit is no mean feat when one considers the range in human body sizes across the population. The science of anthropometrics provides data on dimensions of the human body, in various postures. Biomechanics considers the operation of the muscles and limbs, and ensures that working postures are beneficial, and that excessive forces are avoided.
The importance of psychological dimensions of ergonomics should not be underestimated in today's 'high-tech' world - remember the video recorder example at the beginning. The ergonomist advises on the design of interfaces between people and computers (Human Computer Interaction or HCI), information displays for industrial processes, the planning of training materials, and the design of human tasks and jobs. The concept of 'information overload' is familiar in many current jobs. Paradoxically, increasing automation, while dispensing with human involvement in routine operations, frequently increases the mental demands in terms of monitoring, supervision and maintenance.
The ergonomics approach
Underlying all ergonomics work is careful analysis of human activity. The ergonomist must understand all of the demands being made on the person, and the likely effects of any changes to these - the techniques which enable him to do this come under the portmanteau label of 'job and task analysis'.
The second key ingredient is to understand the users. For example, 'consumer ergonomics' covers applications to the wider contexts of the home and leisure. In these non-work situations the need to allow for human variability is at its greatest - the people involved have a very wide range of capabilities and limitations (including the disabled and elderly), and seldom have any selection or training for the tasks which face them.
This commitment to 'human-centered design' is an essential 'humanizing' influence on contemporary rapid developments in technology, in contexts ranging from the domestic to all types of industry.