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Brief background

The Matrix may be thought of as the future of virtual reality, but the Grid, a high performance distributed computing infrastructure, has been conceived as the future of collaborative problem-solving. In the same way that the World Wide Web opened up content, the Grid will not only open up storage and processing power, but resources (e.g. computational, informational) in general. Allowing for the communication of heterogeneous geographically dispersed resources, the Grid brings a new era in collaboration and decision-making.

The Grid can offer transparent and instant access to data of different formats, obtained by sensors or the result of simulations or processing, either publicly available or with restricted access, combined from multiple sites, either permanent or (non)periodically updated, serving various purposes. Moreover, through the computational power offered by the Grid Infrastructure, computationally complex tasks can now be fulfilled within a satisfying timeframe. The Grid is a potential solution to the great need for computational resources in the application of profiling techniques in real world cases, and primarily in large scale ones requiring secure information exchange among different trusted entities in real-time.

This scenario describes the experience of a traveller who is aided through emerging technologies, which are served by a Grid Infrastructure, showing both the strengths of such an Infrastructure as well as the threats deriving from its powerful collaborative capabilities. The technologies mentioned include biometrics, used mainly for identification purposes, the Grid as a secure and flexible infrastructure, and profiling and location-based services for commercial purposes through the provision of personalised ads and guidance.


After an extremely busy period at work, David is now ready for his summer vacation. As his wife had one more week off than him, they have arranged to meet in Rhodos, so he will be travelling on his own. After packing his bags he activates his tourist profile on his personal MyComm device and enriches it with special preferences for this trip (things he might be interested in buying, his holiday companions, etc). Then, he sets off to Heathrow airport’s terminal 5. The moment he arrives, the “myFlight” service running on his MyComm contacts the airport database for departure information. After the credentials for this interaction are checked, it sends him an SMS indicating the check-in counter he should go to as well as the gate his flight will be departing from. At the counter a camera captures his face image (both frontal and side view) and performs facial recognition. After being positively identified, he checks-in and he goes for a coffee at one of the many airport cafés. Meanwhile, without his knowledge the facial image captured is also compared against a set of facial images of wanted people of high importance stored in a database in Italy. As David’s third match of the combined gridified facial recognition algorithms was “Mario Martucci” – one of the most wanted people in Italy – with a match probability above the predefined threshold the “GentleWatchAbout” service gets triggered and accesses David’s photo and id-related data (cell phone number, passport number). For security reasons the “GentleWatchAbout” service has the credentials to use a variety of services. The “myFlight” service periodically contacts the airport database for further departure information and after a while David receives a notification on his mobile phone indicating that there will be a one-hour delay of his flight and so he decides to activate the “myPlaces” application. This contacts the “AirportPlaces” service to get information about points of interest within the airport and after processing the provided list and comparing it with David’s preferences stored in the “Travellers’ Profile” database in Greece, it suggests for him to go to the “A little Shirty” store which has good offers on shirts, which are his favourite clothes to buy. David decides to do so. He spends most of his time there and 10 minutes before his gate opens he receives a scheduled notification SMS from the “myFlight” service which indicates that he should proceed to his gate. As David gets really bored during flights, he is happy to find out that the plane offers a service that, after you choose a song from the list it provides, it composes a playlist matching the original song selected.
As David arrives in Athens, he has to change flight to get to Rhodos, but his flight is in 5 hours time.  The “myPlaces” service contacts the “AthensPlaces” service and the “AthensTransportation” service and it processes the retrieved records based on his time left. The service sends him an SMS informing him that based on the time available he can go downtown for a walk, providing him with photos of places he could visit. David chooses to go downtown and asks the “myPlaces” service for more information. His request is also automatically sent to the “GentleWatchAbout” service. The service contacts the “AthensPlaces” service to retrieve more information for downtown places, taking into account David’s love for art and presents him with a list of options, such as the Parthenon, the National Museum, the National Gallery, as well as famous local cafés and restaurants. David chooses to visit the Parthenon. The service then contacts the “AthensTransportations” to obtain information about the means of transportation that could get him there. The latter makes near instant calculations within the Grid based on his current location as well as the available means of transportation and current traffic. The service informs him that he could take metro Line 3 from the airport, get off at Monastiraki station and then enjoy a nice walk indicated on a map provided. This has clearly taken into account that David enjoys walking and the weather in Athens is sunny. Alternatively, he can avoid walking too much and just take the metro Line 3 to Syntagma and then change to metro Line 2 to Acropolis station or he can hire a taxi that will take about 35 minutes to get there. The service also gives him information about the entrance fee for the Parthenon. David chooses to take the second option that, according to the service, will take him about 40 minutes to get there.
As soon as David arrives at Acropolis station, “myPlaces” requests information about the surrounding monuments from the “AthensPlaces” service which in turn contacts the “AthensMonuments” service and instantly sends him historical information about the Acropolis and the surrounding monuments. Meanwhile, the “myPlaces” service – whenever David moves to another place – requests processing of the retrieved list of places based on his currently activated profile. In the meantime, “myPlaces” sends David’s current position and preferences to the “GentleWatchAbout” service. Policemen in the area get a notification from “GentleWatchAbout” that a potential suspect for international thefts with low surveillance priority is at the specific location and are supplied with his photo. David enjoys his visit, but after a couple of hours he gets a scheduled notification on his mobile phone by the “myFlight” service that his flight will depart in 2 hours. David activates the “myPlaces” service so that he can choose the means of transportation back to the airport. As he is really tired, he chooses to take a taxi and so the “myPlaces” service contacts the “AthensTransportation” service which in turn contacts the “AthensTaxis” service and calls one for him. After a few seconds he receives an SMS that the taxi will be there in 20 minutes and suggests he goes to a café nearby. As David has activated his tourist profile, the service asks David if he has a preference about the route the taxi will take and after the service activates the previous workflow it prompts him with two choices: through the historic centre which will take him about one hour and should cost him about 40 euros and the highway which will take him 30 minutes and should cost him about 25 euros. David chooses the first one and then decides to wander around a little bit to enjoy the view before the taxi arrives. Before David started his trip to Greece he had enriched his tourist profile by adding among others “pasteli” as one of his favourite foods. Thus, the “myPlaces” service sends a profile-based processing request to the “AthensPlaces” service and David receives a notification that a shop with many local delights is right on the corner where he can find pasteli. David is really excited about this and decides to pay a visit to the shop. When David gets to the check-out counter, he gives 20 euros for his 10 euro purchase and forgets to take his change. As he gets out of the store the owner starts running after him. A policeman just across the street that had received the “GentleWatchOut” notification notices the incident and heads towards them but realises it is a false alarm as soon as the two men shake hands. After 20 minutes, the taxi arrives and David enjoys the route he selected for the taxi to follow, while on the screen of his mobile phone information about the monuments in the historical centre are displayed. When David arrives at the airport the “myFlight” service, after communication with the GPS service, contacts the airport database and he receives a “myFlight” notification about the gate he should be heading for within the next 15 minutes.
The flight takes off and he is on his way to Rhodes. As soon as the flight takes off his wife receives an SMS from the “myFlight” service that David will arrive at Rhodos airport in 45 minutes. Li-lian sets off to the airport to welcome David to Rhodos. However, the security check at the airport for David is quite thorough. He experiences a one hour delay to get his baggage due to extensive security checks at the airport which had received a notification from the “GentleWatchAbout” service. After one hour and a half David manages to reach the car where Li-lian is waiting for him. The days go by happily and the couple enjoy the sun and the sea. As they are sitting at the beach, David receives an SMS from the “myFriends” service that Fotis – a good friend of theirs – is also in town. David asks for more information and after the “myFriends” service contacts the GPS service about the specific user and after numerous calculations are carried out within the Grid, he finds out that Fotis in fact is at a bar near their beach so they decide to join him. Fotis is very happy to meet the couple and they all enjoy their drinks together. Night falls, and they find a nice bar to start their evening. As they are about to enter the bar, David receives an SMS by “myFriends” service that Sofia – his ex-girlfriend the name of which he had left in his list of friends - is there as well. As he would not like the two girls to meet, David tells them that he just received a notification about a nice bar at the end of the street that he had seen the previous night and so they go there instead. As the “myPlaces” service gets information from the GPS service that they are not going to the same bar with Sofia, it automatically sends an information update to the “myFriends” service about David lowering the priority for Sofia in his friends list. The notification is sent to the service and after processing within the Grid, the update is performed.
Time passes by and after two relaxing weeks come to an end, the couple prepares to go back home, again ably assisted by the personalised location based services.


The general consensus is that although technical issues are abounding, the most difficult issues for implementing a Grid infrastructure will involve social and political dimensions. For example, how to facilitate sharing between strangers where there is no history of trust. In our information-based society, the knowledge of an individual’s or an object’s location at any time as well as their preferences can prove useful in a great variety of applications for the consumer, business and government. The proper conjunction of geographic location information, personal preferences and business activities, individual and group profiling, marketers and service agents can result in a new set of useful information concerning detection of patterns, proclivities and trends. In fact, when it comes to services operating in real-time but still having to process and analyse data coming from different sources, with different format and serving different purposes the need for a robust, reliable, flexible and efficient infrastructure enabling trusted communication among services, databases, resources and people becomes greater than ever in the location based service world. The Grid comes in a timely fashion to satisfy these strong computational and informational requirements. In fact, the Grid can enable the dynamic construction of profiles in real-time as well as the real-time application of these profiles in activities and decision-support. However, allowing the collaboration of various services and offering transparent access to services and data a dark side of such an infrastructure exists, especially from the perspective of privacy.
Emerging technologies as well as the potential impact on human rights have been explored in the context of Grid computing in FIDIS D12.2: ‘Study on Emerging AmI Technologies’, whereas particular analysis about biometric identification methodologies has been a part of D3.2: ‘A study on PKI and biometrics’. This scenario also echoes the potential developments in the area of Location Based Services covered in D11.2: ‘Mobility and LBS’ and the deliverable D11.11: ‘Future of Mobile Identity - Next Generation Networks and Mobile Services’. Further, the issues of system and data interoperability have been investigated in D4.1: ‘Structured Account of Approaches on Interoperability’ and the important aspect of privacy in business processes has been covered in D14.2: ‘Study on Privacy in Business Processes by Identity Management’ and more related to Grid infrastructures, D14.3: ‘Study on the Suitability of Trusted Computing to Support Privacy in Business Processes’.