A bomb goes off in a crowded shopping centre. Police, fire and paramedic services respond along with the centre’s own security staff. A neighbouring school is evacuated and hospitals are put on alert. Several local and national government agencies, utility companies, transport companies and businesses become drawn into the aftermath.
How the crisis is handled depends crucially on the communications systems in use. Can the police talk to the local security staff? Can the fire service exchange information on casualties with the paramedics? Who can access the images from the surveillance cameras? Where will the evacuated children go?
In situations like this, many organisations and individuals who normally work independently need to come together quickly to form a ‘virtual organisation’. Unfortunately, the infrastructure to permit free communication between everyone within such virtual organisations has been lacking – until now.
The solution comes from a convergence of interest between two communities that historically have had little to do with each other. One is research scientists using the most powerful supercomputers, often based at selected universities. To share these scarce resources they use a grid, analogous to an electricity supply grid, so that subscribing users can tap into the computing power wherever they may be.
The second group is the network providers and telecom companies who are busy building ever-faster telephone and data networks, especially the ‘next-generation’ networks that will bring ultrafast internet links into every home.Dynamic collaborations
The idea crystallised as Akogrimo, an EU-funded project to develop the infrastructure to make such a grid possible. “We’re talking about a mechanism to enable dynamic collaborations between different organisations,” says project manager Stefan Wesner of Stuttgart University.
Now that the project has finished, the partners, led by project coordinator Telefónica, are looking for ways to develop commercial applications.
A key difference with other grid projects is that Akogrimo is designed to link not only organisations but also individuals, often using mobile devices. It can accommodate virtual organisations that are set up in advance for day-to-day tasks and also those, such as in a crisis situation, that come into being at very short notice.
It also copes with many different kinds of devices. “A user may connect to the grid using different devices,” Wesner explains. “It could be a fixed workstation, it could be a small PDA, or some other device. They all have different capabilities, screen size, computational power, and use different bandwidths.”
Akogrimo can also keep track of people switching from one device to another without breaking communication, ideal for individuals on the move. The imagined bomb attack was the major application demonstrated in Akogrimo with the assistance of the local authority and emergency services in Bristol.
“It was a bit like having a single information space between all the people involved in the crisis,” says Wesner.Remote diagnosis
Likewise, service technicians in the field could access powerful diagnostic tools and expert advice wherever they go. For emergency repairs to expensive products, such as aircraft, this could be very cost effective.
Akogrimo also has applications in education, not just in distance learning but, for example, in supporting students on field trips so they can easily share the information they gather.
Of course, in a commercial grid, where services are supplied by many businesses to many users, the problem arises of how to keep track of who owes what to whom. Akogrimo has solved this too.
“We have a model where you get a single bill for all these services from different companies, combined as a single payment,” Wesner told ICT Results. “I would say this is one of our key innovations.”
Many other projects around the world are looking at the potential of grids for providing services, but Akogrimo is the only one that has designed an infrastructure for mobile users.
Some of the partners are now working on a commercial application of Akogrimo, known as Sea Cage Gateway, to support the offshore fish farming community in Norway.
“Europe is actually in a leading position in the commercial next-generation grid area,” Wesner points out. “The funding for grids in the USA is mostly provided by the departments of energy and defence so their applications are quite different. Everything to do with the commercial usage of grids is well influenced by European stakeholders.”
Christian Nielsen | alfa
Three components on one chip
06.12.2018 | Universität Stuttgart
New quantum materials could take computing devices beyond the semiconductor era
04.12.2018 | University of California - Berkeley
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals
Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.
Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.
Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...
Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.
The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
28.11.2018 | Event News
07.12.2018 | Life Sciences
07.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
07.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy