How Could Supercomputers Be Used in Kenya?

By Paul Muchene
iHub Cluster
  Published 02 Mar 2013
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Two weeks ago we covered the the more technical aspects of the iHub cluster. Though I did give an example of how a cluster may be used, it wasn't really one that a lot of people wouldn't be able to relate to. So this time around am going to focus on how it can have an impact on our everyday lives. So lets take something a lot of us have to deal with on a daily basis, traffic. Its it consumes a lot of time and fuel, is generally unpleasant and something we would all rather avoid if possible. So how can a supercomputer like the cluster help with this? Traffic simulation. In order to create this simulation a significant amount of data needs to be collected first. The kind of data that needs to be collected covers a wide range of variables; weather, human behavior, infrastructure, weather, traffic control structures. Anything that can that can be seen to have and affect on traffic. Once all the data is collect, it's used to create a simulation that allows us to monitor how traffic flows. With this we can pinpoint the areas congestion, find the root cause of the congestion and see how it propagates and affects other areas. We can then better understand how the road infrastructure needs to be changed in the future, in order to ease the traffic in these problematic areas. What's more, any proposed changes or upgrades to these, or any other areas, can be added to the simulation first and tested. Being able to test these changes before implementation let's engineers see whether the changes are likely to achieve the desired result, as well as any unforeseen drawbacks. This vastly improves our ability to plan for future infrastructure, and can, over time, greatly improve the traffic situation, allowing people to be where they need to on time, improving productivity. Predicting Weather and Analyzing Climate Change Patterns It could also be used for broader more complex problems that have an affect on a larger area. Climate change is global issue that affects all of us whether we like it or not. Changes in climate and weather patterns can have a massive affect on country, especially when it comes to food security. Based on records of of the countries climate over several years, projections of how things will change in future can be made. This allows for farmers to make more informed long term decisions and plan for any changes to how their crops are grown. It could potentially even provide them with foresight they need to acquire equipment or invest in a product or service that will support them in the coming future. Something similar can also be done on the short term when it comes to weather. Providing more accurate forecasts about when and how much rain or even the lack of rain is expected in different area. This allows for the for planning for the following few weeks or months to optimize yields. Economic Planning Another application could be to provide useful information about the countries economy. Pulling data together form different sectors, paying attention to where there is growth as well as where growth is needed. This data can be used in conjunction with with information about the state of education, population and employment in different parts of the country. This helps government have a clearer picture of the state of the country, allowing for more focused use of resources to provide the services, infrastructure or education as effectively as possible, to help uplift the community. There are countless ways in which a project like the cluster can be used as a tool to help the community, theses are just the one that I was able to come up with. So I was hoping to get a bit of a discussion going.What ideas do you have for the cluster? Share them in the comments below.
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