VENUS-C is a pioneering, multidisciplinary initiative between industrial partners and scientific user communities that enables cloud computing for research and industry applications. Microsoft invests in Windows Azure resources and manpower through Redmond and its European research centers. VENUS-C is co-funded by the GÉANT and e-Infrastructure Unit and DG Information Society and Media of the European Commission (Contract number: 261565). One theme for scientific cloud computing within the initiative is Civil Protection and Emergencies. A current research application in this area is the Fire Risk application.
When a wildfire strikes, every second counts. Time lost can all too often be measured in lost life, deforestation, and property damage. The Fire Risk application, realized by Microsoft Research and based on Microsoft Bing Maps, Silverlight and Windows Azure, is designed to support wildfire early warning, control and civil protection, by sharing information and tools produced by the Geography of Natural Disasters Laboratory at the University of the Aegean in Greece.
The tool calculates a fire risk index expressing the chance of a wildfire outbreak in a given region. The complex computation takes weather forecasts, topography, vegetation and socioeconomic parameters into account. It makes accurate predictions for the current point in time and even forecasts the risk for the following days. The fire risk forecast is visualized on a Bing map, pinpointing dangerous areas of high risk. Cloud computing enables this complex simulation to be performed in seconds. With these simulations, firefighting personnel, emergency crews and other authorities can design operational plans to prevent the forest fires with new levels of precision.
The ‘VENUS-C: Fire Risk’ demo is a result of a collaboration between the European project VENUS-C, the University of the Aegean, and the European Microsoft Innovation Center (EMIC).
VENUS-C draws its strength from a joint co-operation bringing together industrial partners and scientific user communities to develop, test and deploy an industry-quality Cloud Computing service for Europe. VENUS-C is co-funded by the GÉANT and e-Infrastructure Unit, DG Information Society and Media of the European Commission, as one of six European Distributed Computing Infrastructures (DCIs). VENUS-C is committed to working in synergy with these initiatives, combining experiences in Grid infrastructures and Cloud computing to capitalize on EU investments. VENUS-C brings together 14 European partners. Microsoft invests in Azure resources and manpower through Redmond and its European research centers.
European Microsoft Innovation Center
The European Microsoft Innovation Center (EMIC), founded in 2003, is driving innovation in embedded technologies that address the needs of European industry. As an innovation laboratory, our goal is to turn ideas into reality. We maintain deep relationship with customers and partners to address real-world problems of European companies. We work closely with Microsoft Research and Microsoft business groups to provide solutions that can be used globally. EMIC has currently three focus areas: Self-Adapting Systems Composition, System Level Innovation and Real-time Predictive Analytics.
University of the Aegean
The University of the Aegean is located on six different islands in the Aegean Sea and includes 18 Departments. The Department of Geography in Mytilene, Lesvos Island, Greece, with its Physical Geography, Human Geography and Geo-Informatics Laboratories supports academic activities in the fields of earth system science, social-economic sciences and geographic information science. The AEG partnership will more specifically include the Geography of Natural Disasters Laboratory, which has a mission to: run interdisciplinary research programs on natural disasters and civil protection; provide relative education curricula for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students and disseminate information to the profession, the public and the community through service and outreach.
A number of research projects in the lab are competitively funded by the European Union, at national level and the private sector dealing with wildfires, floods, information systems analysis and human-environment relations. Examples of such projects are AUTO-HAZARD PRO, FIREGUARD, INCENDI and VIRTUAL FIRE.