Saturday, 6 December 2008

Traffic flow and virtual ecosystem entries win “Grid computing for a greener planet” competition

Was in the Jury for this competition and it is good that people start thinking about low carbon IT solutions. Not sure about the traffic flow system as a winner though. I have not seen the winning concept, but from what I can see it looks like a solutions that could result in long-term increased traffic and therefore not really qualify as a solutions that contribute to a greener planet...

Below is the press release.


Traffic flow and virtual ecosystem entries win “Grid computing for a greener planet” competition

• Grid Computing Now! names Nick Pringle and Christos Melissidis winners of the “Grid computing for a Greener Planet” competition
• Winnings entries detailed how to use grid computing to improve traffic flow and produce a simulation of our ecosystem
• The competition was supported by Microsoft, Intellect, The British Computer Society (BCS), The 451 Group, Memset, the National e-Science Centre (NeSC), Oxford e-Research Centre (OeRC), WWF, and The Technology Strategy Board
• Prizes included a Sony Vaio laptop, the appointment of a mentor from industry to enable the winner to take their idea forward, an XBox360 and subscription to the British Computer Society (BCS) and The 451 Group
• Second prizes were awarded for a solution that would locate carbon hot spots, and one that would monitor methane levels

London December 3rd Grid Computing Now!, a government funded knowledge transfer network, today announced the winners of the “Grid computing for a greener planet” competition.

The first prize for the Non-Professional Track was awarded to Christos Melissidis, an MSc student from Cranfield University. His concept is a simulation of our ecosystem. Melissidis wants to create a virtual ecosystem in order to solve environmental problems. The idea is to feed real time data derived from various data sources, such as the weather channel, into the virtual ecosystem while measuring its response.

The first prize for the Professional Track was awarded to Nick Pringle, an IT consultant and part-time PhD student, for his predictive traffic flow model. His solution would involve enhancing existing GPS information by submitting individual route information to a grid computing system, which would calculate a journey time based on how many other people would be choosing to take the same route at the same time. This has the potential to reduce, and potentially avoid, time spent in traffic jams and carbon emissions.

Entrants were judged primarily on their solution’s feasibility, scope and creativity. Grid computing, a service for sharing computer power and data storage capacity over the Internet*, can be applied to any environmental issue that stands to benefit from a huge amount of raw processing power to calculate massive data sets.

Both entrants have been appointed an industry mentor, Dr David Wallom, Technical Manager University of Oxford, to help them progress their ideas.

Ian Osborne, Grid Computing Now! Director said, “Over the past year we have seen tremendous growth in the number and scope of grid computing solutions available. The winners of this competition have demonstrated the immense potential for grid computing to help solve, or monitor environmental issues.”

Bob Harvey, Chair of the BCS Carbon Footprint Working Group, says “I am delighted to see students and professionals involved in this competition and producing solutions that offer real benefits, especially in terms of reducing carbon emissions.”

Dennis Pamlin, Global Policy Advisor, WWF says “We’re pleased to have supported this competition, and hope it inspires further technological initiatives that help monitor, or even solve, environmental problems.”

Judges included: Anne Trefethen, Oxford e-Research Centre (OERC); Kate Craig Wood, Memset; Jerry Fishenden, National Technology Officer Microsoft; John Barr, Research Director The 451 Group; Liam Newcombe BCS Datacentre Specialist Group; Dennis Pamlin, Global Policy Advisor, WWF Sweden; John Whittall, Lead Technologist for Environmental Sustainability, Technology Strategy Board.

The first grid computing competition, launched in 2006, invited participants to solve any type of problem. Entries ranged from using grid computing for asteroid tracking intelligence to exploiting the Internet to help combat terrorism. The previous winner, Gopok Goteng, proposed the use of grid’s processing power to crunch real time CCTV footage and biometric data to identify potential high-risk incidents. After winning the competition he went on to present his solution at Microsoft's Annual European Research and Innovation Day in Brussels.