Cloud computing is not just for storing precious memories or even working on a big project together. While these things are an important part of the cloud, they are only the ice burg’s tip when it comes to what these massive servers can really do. Many things can be accomplished by utilizing powerful computers.
What are the top five cloud computing projects that are used to benefit humanity?
Google and The Climate Research Initiative
is offering their cloud technology to benefit the scientific community in several areas.
One are is by working with scientists in the government backed Climate Change Research Initiative. The search engine giant has donated 50 million hours of cloud computing time to this project. The information mined from this data will be used to help communities and organizations look at conditions in their area.
The Climate Data Initiative hopes to make predicting climate related risks more accurate. Researchers have access to tools on the Google Earth Engine to perform their geospatial analysis. Scientists can also access interactive time-lapse maps and graphs of the planet. These tables cover data from 1984 to 2012.
By giving researchers scalable access to Earth Engine, Google hopes that the information can move more quickly and be out of a laboratory setting and into the hands of the public. Ultimately, the goal is to create a high-resolution, near-real-time drought mapping and monitoring product for the continental United States.
Intel and The Michael J. Fox Foundation
Intel is using cloud computing and storage capabilities to help fight a very specific disease. Parkinson’s affects some 100 million people in the United States alone, with 50,000 to 60,000 new cases being diagnosed yearly. That is why Intel has collaborated with the Michael J. Fox Foundation in an effort to find new ways to discover a cure.
Intel is developing a new wearable device, in the form of a watch, which monitors patients’ movements throughout the day. Each of the data points are transmitted to a cloud via WiFi connections. Once there, the cloud-computing program Cloudera processes data looking for anomalies that may help doctors better understand the disease’s progression.
This information, coupled with a log kept by the patient, will give doctors a more accurate picture of the disease’s progress. It also helps researchers uncover better treatment plans and which therapies work best for the patient.
Google and DNA Research
Climate is important, but it is hardly the only area in which Google is offering its cloud storage and computing services. The search engine giant is also dealing in the area of genetics. Earlier this year, Google joined the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health.
This coalition of research universities, life science forums, and health care providers are trying to encourage others in the industry to pool their research and work together to establish standards for managing data. To this end, Google is providing storage and security for the massive projects, at no cost to researchers.
Google is far from the only provider offering space to researchers. began offering free storage to scientists a few years ago. However, those wishing to use the cloud computing power of Amazon’s S3 servers must pay a usage cost.
Geneticists can use the cloud computing power at Google to plow through hundreds of gigabytes of data to unlock the necessary clues. Researchers hope this will lead to the creation of life saving medications.
DNA Nexus is one company utilizing Google’s cloud power in order to offer geneticists the ability to easily sort through the National SRA repository.
The Mountain View based company has mirrored the database on 350 terabytes of cloud space. The new interface allows geneticists to find specific DNA sequencing information quickly. This data is going to be used to discover medical and biotechnological advancements.
IBM and Coriell Life Science Take on PACE
IBM is also offering cloud-computing services in the name of health care. Using their Softlayer program, the company is working with Coriell Life Science on the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, better known as PACE. PACE works to enhance medication safety for the elderly by understanding how these treatments interact on the genetic level.
Swabs are taken of the patients’ cheeks. The DNA is then stored in a cloud storage location,–provided by IBM.
In order to sift through the more than 3 billion data points an individual genome can produce, Corielle Life Science is using SoftLayer to perform the computation. GeneVault, as their storage area is called, allows physicians to access the data to determine the best medication for their patient.
The prescription is determined after a series of tests are ran on the DNA information located in the vault. An analysis of this genetic code can predict the effectiveness of a drug. This information is securely shared with physicians to help safely manage seniors’ prescriptions and avoid life threatening conditions.
Geological Hazards and Helix Nebula
Looking for geo-hazards is a difficult task, yet perfect for cloud computing. Helix Nebula is partnered with the European Space Agency, the Center National d’Etudes Spaciales in France, and the German Aerospace Center to create a platform of Earth observation. The goal is to focus on earthquake and volcano research.
The Geo-hazard Supersites Organization monitors earth dynamics and assessment of geo-hazards to reduce the loss of life and property caused by these natural disasters. Helix Nebula will host extensive information collected by the group, including ESA satellite data. The computational cloud provider is to process and correlate the massive data set.
This collaboration between the Geo-hazard Supersites Organization and Helix Nebula will allow users from across the world to share data. The hope is to find a way to predict earthquakes and volcanic activity and to enlarge the science user base.
Cloud computing has the potential to help unlock the mysteries of the human genome, map climate conditions, and help to predict natural disasters.
Is cloud technology building to be the backbone of humanities advancement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.