IBM Research Launches South Africa Lab

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2016-08-29 Print this article Print
IBM big data

IBM researchers also have been working with the Metagenomics and Metadesign of the Subways and Urban Biomes (MetaSUB) international consortium. As part of that effort, Big Blue collected 65 samples of microbes and bacteria from 19 bus stations across Johannesburg to help predict future disease outbreaks.

Moreover, next month IBM will host a hackathon on anti-malarial drug resistance and drug combination prediction in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame and H3ABioNet.

Regarding digital urban ecosystems, IBM said it is building on its Green Horizons initiative to study air pollution in South Africa and predict ground level ozone and air quality.

Last December, IBM launched a pilot program with the city of Johannesburg and South Africa's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to model air pollution trends and quantify the effectiveness of the city's programs supporting Johannesburg's air quality targets and long-term sustainable development.

"Air pollution is now the world's largest environmental health risk. While Johannesburg does not yet have the air pollution challenges to the scale of the world's megacities, continued economic and demographic growth mean that the city government must take action now to safeguard the future health of the city and its people," Assefa said in a statement at the time. "The combined power of Internet of Things and cognitive computing means that understanding, managing and forecasting air quality today is more technically and economically feasible than ever before."

Moreover, as part of the new lab's astronomy research, IBM scientists in South Africa are working with NASA, the SETI Institute and Swinburne University to develop an Apache Spark application. The new application, which employs machine learning algorithms, will analyze the more than 168 million radio events recorded by the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) over the last decade. And IBM is working with SKA South Africa on the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the world's largest radio telescope, which will go online in South Africa and Australia in 2018.

Pund-IT's King said South Africa faces a range of challenges related to health care provision, rapid urbanization and supporting rural communities, and IBM is bringing a number of its core technology assets to bear on these problems, including Watson IoT, cognitive learning, environmental monitoring and The Weather Company.

"In addition, the company is collaborating on South Africa-based astronomical projects that look beyond earthbound problems to see what's in the stars," King said. "Overall, the scope and reach of these new efforts demonstrates why IBM is one of the world's preeminent leaders in scientific and technological research."



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