Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
What is CERCS™?
CERCS™ is the name of a software system and web application ecosystem designed and developed by James S. Schoner (Sr. Software Engineer and Director of Bitmaxim Laboratories) in close cooperation with Paul S. Anderson, PhD (Woodgas Pyrolytics, Inc. and Woodgas International). Pronounced phonetically as “serx”, the name represents the joining of two acronyms: CER (carbon emission reduction) and CS (carbon sequestration).
CERCS™ CharTrac is a progressive web application in the CERCS™ ecosystem that implements an innovative and comprehensive MMRV (Measuring, Monitoring, Reporting, and Verifying) scheme for CO2 reduction and removal (CDR) activities. It is a key component of the app ecosystem.
Designed for mobile devices (tablets and smartphones), CERCS™ CharTrac enables near real-time capture of a configurable sequence of data associated with carbon reducing and/or carbon sequestering activities, including those in remote areas beyond the reach of wireless Internet and phone services.
Who are the owners of the CERCS™ Application Ecosystem?
CERCS™ is co-owned by James S. Schoner (Bitmaxim Laboratories) and Paul S. Anderson, PhD (Woodgas International). Hereinafter, this ownership arrangement is known as the CERCS partnership.
Who are the developers of the CERCS™ Application Ecosystem?
The technical development of the CERCS™ applications is led by James S. Schoner (Bitmaxim Laboratories), whereas the business development is led by Paul S. Anderson, PhD (Woodgas International).
Do you plan to offer carbon credits from the operations that use CERCS™ CharTrac?
Yes, via other applications within the CERCS ecosystem.
The business of CERCS products and services extends beyond the CharTrac app that is central to MMRV activities. CERCS CharTrac is designed to implement the full range of digital-based services needed for MMRV. The larger (umbrella) CERCS application ecosystem provides additional components for registration and marketing of units of carbon emission reduction (ER) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR).
What are possible costing structures?
The range of possible costing structures is almost limitless, especially for client partners at this very early stage of the CERCS™ business. The CERCS™ business is solvent (zero debts), is continuing its modest business plan, and is actively seeking financial inputs to accelerate the efforts. Financial inputs could come from business partners or contracts with initial clients (in addition to Paul’s projects in Venezuela, Kenya, USA and elsewhere).
At the level of becoming a preferential associate (without ownership), a prospective client might prefer to have favorable incentives that could include long-term lower usage fees, multiple projects, rights to sell CDR units from Paul’s projects, and/or other benefits. The CERCS™ partnership would negotiate with an expected minimum total payment of US$100,000 spread over one year as several specific results-based pre-performance payments.
Are you planning to have an interface with European Biochar Certificate (EBC) or other registries?
Is CERCS™ GDPR compliant?
The CERCS™ Immudb database is GDPR-compliant (where GDPR refers to General Data Protection Regulation, a Regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area).
What service response time in case of problems can be assured?
The implementation of CERCS™ involves daily (24-hour) monitoring and problem resolution activities. Assurance of response time is tied to the contracted level of support (per contract/agreement).
What are the components of the CERCS™ Application Ecosystem?
The following apps and components of the CERCS™ ecosystem are currently in various stages of development:
- CERCS™ CharTrac
- CERCS™ Registry
- CERCS™ Data Explorer (Tools for Administrators and Third-Party Verifiers)
- CERCS™ Dashboard (Website Components/Widgets)
- CERCS™ NFT (Non-fungible Token for Marketing/Exchanging Carbon Offsets/Credits/Removals)
- CERCS™ GIS (Component for Mapping)
- CERCS™ IoT (Components)
- CERCS™ Lab Notebook (a JupyterLab notebook with secure code for organizing, packaging, encrypting (signing), and transmitting laboratory testing data to CERCS servers)
What are the different types of user accounts?
- Operations Owner Account
- Manager of Operations Account(s)
- Supervisor of Operations Account(s)
- Operator (Worker) Accounts
- Developer Account(s)
- Third-Party Reviewer Accounts
Are the CERCS™ applications configurable / customizable for client project operations?
Yes, the CERCS™ developers are crafting the applications to be configurable, allowing customization according to customer needs. Some customers may only want data to feed into other systems (via API), whereas others might want end-to-end MMRV services that facilitate quality objectives, laboratory testing integration, and third-party verification of claims.
The current CERCS™ partnership may grow with one or more additional business partners in the near future (during 2023), which could cause changes to how the product and services of CERCS™ are offered and at what prices.
Do you plan to develop client-requested modifications, and will you accept functional additions and alterations from third party developers?
These topics are open for discussion. We have no predetermined limitations, and we are open to considering any arrangement that is mutually beneficial and of long-term interest to our clients, Bitmaxim Labs (James Schoner), and Woodgas International (Paul Anderson).
Our current plan is for James Schoner (Bitmaxim Labs) to have continued long-term (years, not months) lead developer involvement with the app and related web development. The more flexible or specific application aspects (that include user-interface, analytics, and report generation) can appropriately involve client participation, especially if the client already has (or desires to have) custom specifications and APIs specific to the client’s project. Please note: Any work performed to benefit a client becomes the property of the owners of CERCS™ for potential use in applications outside of the client’s immediate realm of activities.
With respect to Paul Anderson (Woodgas International), he will continue to be supportive with his vision, worldwide contacts, and overall development of project operations around the globe (applications of CERCS™ CharTrac), but he plans to relinquish his roles as appropriate for longer term business development. This is in consideration of his age (79 in very good health) and willingness to let others handle business issues.
Our current operations involve James implementing and refining CERCS™ CharTrac in Paul’s biochar projects in Venezuela, Kenya, USA and elsewhere. In the very near future, we anticipate substantial progress that will be visible (reviewable) by prospective clients and/or investors.
For how many years can you guarantee updates and service?
CERCS™ has been James’ full-time interest and occupation since 2020, and he plans to continue full-time CERCS™ development, fixes, and updates indefinitely. Relocating from Phoenix, Arizona to Champaign, Illinois, James established his home and office (Bitmaxim Labs) near the University of Illinois, which has a top-tier (ranked #5 in the USA) computer science school.
If the CERCS™ efforts are granted additional external funding, James and Paul would hire locally available talent to grow the CERCS™ development and support teams.
What language is the CERCS™ CharTrac application written in? How is the interface to Python realized?
A key feature of the server-side framework is the ability to connect and securely extend the functionality of CERCS CharTrac with Python code running on IoT devices, energy-efficient SBCs (single board computers), or other physical/virtual servers of nearly any type. Using the WebSocket protocol, this includes the ability to connect to JupyterLab and Jupyter Notebook applications, enabling enriched workflows that empower CharTrac with a broad range of existing (and future) applications in data science, scientific computing, machine learning, etc.
Is the code open or closed source?
The code is mostly closed (private), but there are extensions (described above) that are open source. By utilizing open source code, the CERCS applications can be readily extended at minimal cost with numerous features (including visualizations and reports) that are well-tested, secure, and maintained by many talented individuals across the globe. Carefully selected and reliable open source components are typically secure and robust, as their vulnerabilities have been (and continue to be) identified and worked on by many individuals. The open and ongoing process of continuous improvement is a key aspect of open source components.
What are the possible variable types of questions and answer options?
CERCS™ CharTrac implements all of the question/answer types that are typically found in ordinary data collection tools like KoboToolbox, with sequencing, skip logic, and validation. The application is easily configurable for custom needs.
What blockchain is used for the hashes of the database? NFTs?
Do you provide tools to approve and correct data?
Yes, this is in development (supervisor-based and AI-based). All incoming data streams have anomaly detection filters that forward certain anomalous data items to the attention of a supervisor. The response of the supervisor will train certain ML (machine learning) components to help automate the handling of anomalous data in the future.
Are there any plausibility checks included?
Yes, with anomaly detection and reporting. The current level of checks involves rudimentary analysis for statistical outliers in the data streams, but we are also working on the development of ML/AI (machine learning/artificial intelligence) component integrations that will be needed for efficiently handling massively scaled operations involving numerous data streams. This is where the WebSocket feature for connecting CERCS™ application code to Python-based JupyterLab ML/AI components is particularly useful. [ See also, https://www.redhat.com/en/blog/what-aiml-and-why-does-it-matter-your-business ]
Are you renting data storage space in a datacenter, or do you run your own server(s)? What do you guarantee in the field of data protection?
What are some of the primary CERCS™ Innovations?
Fundamental to the design and utility of the app is the notion that data capture should be an action that is contemporaneous with production operations. In these actions, each captured data item is immediately encrypted and later transmitted (uploaded from mobile devices) to an immutable store without the possibility of human intervention or alteration along the way.
The rigor and integrity of data from CharTrac are tied also to Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) methods and procedures, including regular weighing scale checks and recalibration events, periodic sampling for lab analyses of charcoal/biochar, round robin studies of interlaboratory reproducibility of test methods, and more. Although recommended, use of these procedures/methods is optional.
The CERCS™ Web 3.0 apps tokenize carbon units (emission credit and/or sequestration/removal) on the green, energy efficient Algorand blockchain as marketable NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), each representing one tonne CO2e reduction or sequestration (CDR). With independent, third-party verifications, CERCS™ Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) NFTs can be integrated with various marketplaces (e.g., Puro.earth).
What are the features currently implemented?
Specific front-end features include data capture via smartphone sensors (camera, GPS, touchscreen signature, date/timestamp), textbox, list selection, navigation, encryption, digital signatures, etc. All of these are user-configurable with user-selected sequencing. Data handling features include offline encrypted data caching on mobile devices for secure capture of data in remote areas, with later uploading to CERCS™ servers when the mobile device again has a data/Internet connection. Data uploads are securely transmitted (encrypted) to an immutable, GDPR-compliant database ( https://immudb.io/ ), with periodic hashes stored on a public blockchain (Algorand). Data reporting features include a web-based dashboard (data visualization). WebSocket connection features include ready access to a limitless variety of JupyterLab applications. And there are many additional features under development.
Which database do you use? Is it SQL based?
What is the back-up methodology?
Automated cloud-server-to-cloud-server backups are the primary method.
Secondarily, locally-secured NAS unit backups of the encrypted cloud server repositories are implemented at Bitmaxim Labs and a second location in a different city.
Note: ALL backups are encrypted (for security), and both NAS units are backed up to a rotating sequence of external, large-capacity drives that are stored in fireproof safes.
On what version of Android does the CERCS™ CharTrac app depend?
As a progressive web app that functions on virtually all mobile and desktop platforms, all versions of Android released within the past 5 years are fully compatible with the application.
Do you have an app version for IOS?
Yes, it is a progressive web app that functions on virtually all mobile and desktop platforms.