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 Thursday, September 27, 2007

A group of young African researchers presented their project MalariaControl during the Global Forum on Youth and ICT for Development (Geneva 24-26 September 2007), co-hosted by the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) and ITU.

MalariaControl, is a partnership comprising the Swiss Tropical Institute, the University of Geneva, the European Organization for Nuclear Research and the NGOs International Conference Volunteers and Informaticiens sans Frontières. Using Volunteer Computing (VC) it develops simulation models of transmission dynamics and health effects of malaria. The models represent an important tool for malaria control - optimal strategies for new vaccines or chemotherapy can be determined.

VC is used because the simulation of the full range of transmission patterns relevant for malaria control is complex and extremely computer intensive. The approach was popularised in 1999 with the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence: SETI@home.

The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) plays a key role in reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were agreed at the Millennium Summit (New York, 6-8 September 2000), where 192 United Nations Member States and all the world’s leading development institutions agreed to try to achieve the - eight - goals by the target date of 2015. The goals range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.

In VC, a type of distributed computing, software clients installed on privately owned computers around the world perform calculations to progress in complex research fields. Home computers are idle most of the time. Owners donate their computer's idle CPU time, memory and network connection for distributed research. VC contains aspects of Grid Computing, see the three point checklist by scientist Ian Foster (PDF).

The open-source software client for VC, called BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), can be downloaded for various computer platforms.

VC has also been discussed as a tool to carry out research on environmental phenomena and disaster prevention.