The Living Earth Simulator (LES) is the FuturICT vision for how we will simulate or model complex events or scenarios. To date researchers have made great adavnces in many domain specific areas (eg Transportation, Energy, Smart Cities etc) but FuturICT wants to move this process to a new level by allowing for several domain level initiatives to share data and models. We have started using the term Exploratory as a collective term for this more advanced and comprehensive grouping. These additional data points, more complex models and much longer term view of crisis, disaster or policy and regulatory impacts on society and business help us understand interactions within our ecosystem. One of the hallmarks of the LES will be its open architecture that will allow different models and data sources to be incorporated.
The large majority of Open Data and Big Data projects that have been deployed in commercial projects are looking at historical data or at best real time data supporting a service such as parking availability, public transport schedules. FuturICT has a much longer term focus on the issues affecting society and businesses. While real time data and historical data will be used to help inform the models, the key will be to simulate our ecosystem and develop a range of possible scenarios that might emerge. We are conscious that for most foresight challenges, the answer is not a simple binary yes/no type answer. The LES will help develop the multi-disciplinary sciences supporting this area so that data sources can be private or public, Open Data or proprietary/paid for data sources, aggregated or detailed. The compute layer can be private, public, research, paid for service. The models could be open source or private or a mixture and so on. Our society and business models are many and varied, we are unsure of the impact of regulatory and policy mandates so we need to allow for any eventuality. The FuturICT technology will be built to allow for change, flexibity and choice as that is what people expect.