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New software developed by computer scientists at the University of Amsterdam allows for the immediate deployment of supercomputers in the event of pending natural disasters.

New software developed by computer scientists at the University of Amsterdam allows for the immediate deployment of supercomputers in the event of pending natural disasters. A consortium of the UvA's Informatics Institute and several Dutch and foreign companies has been commissioned by the European Union to practically implement a successful trial project.

Until now, supercomputers scarcely played a role in the fight against flooding. For the first time, information gathered by various sensors, integrated data and the information yielded by computer simulations is now being applied to help predict and minimise the effects of flooding. The project will last three years and comprises the development of software, linkage to satellites and various computer link-ups and simulations.

The researchers will set up special measurement equipment (sensors) in volcanoes, fissures in the earth's surface and (severely) weakened dykes and bridges in various locations around Europe. This equipment will transmit data to computer systems via the Internet. The intelligent software in these systems will then draw conclusions as to the impending danger.

In the event of a substantial threat, a supercomputer will be deployed in order to calculate various potential scenarios at high speed. The resulting information will offer insight into the likelihood of a disaster and the manner in which it is expected to unfold. If a single supercomputer cannot offer the necessary computing power, the software developed in Amsterdam can also immediately access the capacity of other supercomputers, no matter whether they are located in Amsterdam, London, New York or Tokyo.Dyke monitoring.

Dyke monitoring

The assignment will also focus on the issue of dyke monitoring. In the event of a hazardous situation, the monitoring equipment can rapidly identify high-risk dykes and accurately determine the relevant threat level. Dykes in London, Amsterdam and the Russian city of St. Petersburg are currently being monitored as part of a trial project. This trial also includes the monitoring of an actual dyke in the Dutch test facility in IJkdijk.

In addition to the UvA, various businesses and research institutes are also taking part in the eScience project: TNO ICT, Stichting Onderzoek Water (Foundation for Applied Water Research), UK organisation HR Wallingford, Cyfronet from Poland and the Russian division of Siemens.