Open space for technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in Nairobi.

iHub Cluster By Paul Muchene / March 2, 2013

How Could Supercomputers Be Used in Kenya?


Two weeks ago we covered the the more technical aspects of the iHub cluster. Though I did give an example of how a cluster may be used, it wasn’t really one that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to relate to. So this time around am going to focus on how it can have an impact on our everyday lives.

So lets take something a lot of us have to deal with on a daily basis, traffic. Its it consumes a lot of time and fuel, is generally unpleasant and something we would all rather avoid if possible. So how can a supercomputer like the cluster help with this?

Traffic simulation.

In order to create this simulation a significant amount of data needs to be collected first. The kind of data that needs to be collected covers a wide range of variables; weather, human behavior, infrastructure, weather, traffic control structures. Anything that can that can be seen to have and affect on traffic. Once all the data is collect, it’s used to create a simulation that allows us to monitor how traffic flows. With this we can pinpoint the areas congestion, find the root cause of the congestion and see how it propagates and affects other areas.

We can then better understand how the road infrastructure needs to be changed in the future, in order to ease the traffic in these problematic areas. What’s more, any proposed changes or upgrades to these, or any other areas, can be added to the simulation first and tested. Being able to test these changes before implementation let’s engineers see whether the changes are likely to achieve the desired result, as well as any unforeseen drawbacks. This vastly improves our ability to plan for future infrastructure, and can, over time, greatly improve the traffic situation, allowing people to be where they need to on time, improving productivity.

Predicting Weather and Analyzing Climate Change Patterns

It could also be used for broader more complex problems that have an affect on a larger area. Climate change is global issue that affects all of us whether we like it or not. Changes in climate and weather patterns can have a massive affect on country, especially when it comes to food security. Based on records of of the countries climate over several years, projections of how things will change in future can be made. This allows for farmers to make more informed long term decisions and plan for any changes to how their crops are grown. It could potentially even provide them with foresight they need to acquire equipment or invest in a product or service that will support them in the coming future.

Something similar can also be done on the short term when it comes to weather. Providing more accurate forecasts about when and how much rain or even the lack of rain is expected in different area. This allows for the for planning for the following few weeks or months to optimize yields.

Economic Planning

Another application could be to provide useful information about the countries economy. Pulling data together form different sectors, paying attention to where there is growth as well as where growth is needed. This data can be used in conjunction with with information about the state of education, population and employment in different parts of the country. This helps government have a clearer picture of the state of the country, allowing for more focused use of resources to provide the services, infrastructure or education as effectively as possible, to help uplift the community.

There are countless ways in which a project like the cluster can be used as a tool to help the community, theses are just the one that I was able to come up with.

So I was hoping to get a bit of a discussion going. What ideas do you have for the cluster? Share them in the comments below.

Author : Paul Muchene

Paul Muchene is currently the iHub lead systems admin.

  • OA News: March 8-17, 2013 – oAfrica at 11:32:40AM Monday, March 18, 2013

    [...] How Could Supercomputers Be Used in Kenya? {iHub} [...]

  • Bitcoin Crypto-currency and the opportunity for a truly Pan-Africa money revolution | AfrinnovatorAfrinnovator at 13:45:45PM Monday, April 1, 2013

    [...] an Apri’s fools joke :). But the iHub could start mining bitcoins during idle time in their new super computer cluster for starters and make coins more widely available amonst the tech community. Tagsbitcoin africa [...]

  • KoGiTroNomy at 17:24:16PM Monday, April 8, 2013

    A super computer has enormous computing power and the Cluster almost certainly faces a problem of under-utilisation if it is implemented. One of the major uses in my view is that it can be used to gather country wide socio-economic data on development indicators. With a devolved system of Government being implemented currently, we need a tool that decision makers can use at the county level running all the way up to the Central Government. The best way to present any type of data that touches on most of the sectors in an economy spanning a wide geographical area is by visual presentation using e.g. using charts, graphs, maps representing ‘red’ or ‘green’ zones and other graphical presentation methods.This way, decision makers will be in a better position to immediately identify specific patterns and make informed decisions almost immediately on issues such as; resource use and revenue allocation, the effect of particular policies on intended development outcomes in various regions, resource use efficiency on particular activities being carried out in any particular counties, county productivity, among other useful information. The essence of having a super computer to handle this is its ability to compute quickly relationships based on huge databases made up of information generated from all over the country simultaneously. This is an extension of what Proctor & Gamble does when presenting data to senior management, read the article here…

    At this stage, coming up with ways of capturing and measuring Government efficiency at the micro level and ultimately at the macro level is of great importance to the successful implementation of government policies and efficient attainment of set goals…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

{{ theme:js file="jquery.fittext.js" }}