With a significant proportion of the world’s population going into ‘Corona Lockdown’ finding a vaccine is becoming increasingly important. We have already seen over the last few days and weeks the important role the digital world is playing in enabling us to live a semi normal life while living in isolation, but what role can technology play in helping us find the cure for this global invisible threat.
A leading European Cloud start-up from Switzerland is helping accelerate research to develop a cure for Coronavirus. Helio AG today announced that it will make its compute delivery network available free of charge for any research organization, laboratory, university and any other computing-intensive applications that require more firepower to model solutions to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Helio proprietary platform is rapidly connecting data centers across Europe to help researchers get the computing resources they need. Researchers around the world are rapidly trying to understand the virus and develop an immunization program. What in earlier days would have been done with hundreds of manual experiments in laboratories, is now often done with the aid of computers. Testing billions of combinations of substances and simulating the response of the virus to them, requires an incredible amount of computing resources, especially when it needs to go fast.
The Helio platform connects a network of individual data centers to more efficiently perform computing tasks, such as rendering of 3D films & animations or simulating physical phenomena. To support the international research community Helio is opening its entire compute infrastructure free of charge to anyone working on COVID-19 and related research or applications.
Kevin Häfeli, CEO of Helio says: “Switzerland is very much affected by the virus and we started to wonder how we can help. We have worked with research organizations in the past and know that often the availability of computing resources is a key challenge. To do our bit we will open up our network for anyone to use and to make our team available to help connect computing tasks on short notice.”
Helio is currently connecting more and more data centers across Europe. Operators such as Syseleven in Berlin and OpsOne in Zurich have already started connecting their infrastructure to Helio and make their spare capacity available. Christoph Buchli, CTO of Helio says: “Even though there is a surge in demand for digital services, many data centers still have a lot of unused capacity that we can make available via Helio. We will be connecting more and more data centers over the coming weeks and months.”
Data centers across Europe that would like to contribute capacity to this effort are asked to reach out to Helio via their website: www.helio.exchange
Helio is not the only cloud company seeking to contribute to finding a cure for the Coronavirus, Amazon Web Services has also launched an initiative to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostics, research, and testing. This week they launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative committing $20 million to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to accelerate our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovate diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks. Funding will is being provided through a combination of AWS in-kind credits and technical support to assist research teams in harnessing the full potential of the cloud to tackle this challenge.
The program is open to accredited research institutions and private entities that are using AWS to support research-oriented workloads for the development of point-of-care diagnostics for COVID-19.
There have been a string of tech companies both small and large responding to the need to find a solution to battle the coronavirus. Along with Halo and AWS, Huawei Cloud has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to help doctors diagnose cases with greater ease. The AI-assisted diagnosis service can automatically assess lung structure and function, alleviating the shortage of doctors qualified to perform such analyses. “AI + doctor review is dozens of times faster than manual quantitative image evaluation, which greatly improves the diagnosis efficiency,” the company said. According to Huawei, the tool can also more accurately distinguish between early, advanced and severe stages of the disease, allowing doctors to “cut through the noise”.
With a significant number of the world’s population currently under lockdown due to the Coronavirus, let’s hope that combining the computing power of leading cloud companies with the leading research and development companies working on finding a cure for the Coronavirus will help accelerate this process.