How volunteers' idle computing power helps scientists search for a Zika cure

Mon, 2016-08-08 11:30 -- Compassionate C...

As public health officials, scientists and humanitarian agencies from Latin America to Miami and beyond scramble for solutions to the potentially deadly mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, citizens around the world are helping in the hunt for a cure by donating their spare computing power.

A free app is available for download that automatically provides researchers the unused computing power on volunteers' computers or Android devices.  The initiative is called the OpenZika project and it runs on IBM's World Community Grid, a virtual, crowd-sourced supercomputer that uses donated computing time to advance cutting-edge scientific research on topics related to health, poverty and sustainability.

Through this latest philanthropic initiative, IBM explains, scientists in Brazil and the U.S. now have the ability to screen millions of chemical compounds to identify candidates for treatments to combat the Zika virus.

In the first two months of the study, more than 50,000 volunteers from all over the world enrolled and donated the equivalent of over 4,000 years of computing time and performed more than 20,000 virtual experiments, which IBM says saves researchers $1.5 million in equivalent computing resources.

You can learn more about the OpenZika effort in the video below. To enroll your device and help with the study, click here.

More technology on the Zika front
In addition to the Open Zika project, Council Lead Partner IBM has committed technology, resources and pro bono expertise in the fight against the Zika virus. Read how one of Brazil's most prominent science and technology health institutions plans to help track the spread of Zika by using technology developed by IBM to analyze clues ranging from anecdotal observations recorded by the general public on social media, to official data about human travel patterns.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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