Skip to main content

ClimatePrediction.net

I'm back from SC06 and almost recovered from jetlag. We're in the middle of a workshop on Virtual Organisations, which I'll report on in due course. Right now I want to highlight another of the projects we demonstrated on the UK e-Science stand at SC06.

ClimatePrediction.net uses home enthusiasts to run climate models on their PCs, inspired by SETI@Home and similar projects. This has the advantage that it can run multiple versions of models with slightly varying parameters and look at the most likely results.

It's good and worthwhile science but what makes the project particularly worth noting is the work they've done with education and the media. They have created a schools pack so that the system can be used in school teaching (that's pre-college school in USA terms). As a result they have several schools running models on their IT labs.

The project has also been fortunate to attract the interest of the BBC, who included it in a documentary on climate change and invited viewers to join in by running their own models. We played this documentary on our stand. The BBC are producing another programme to present the results, to be broadcast early next year.

At SC06, Carl Christensen of ClimatePrediction.net and David Anderson of BOINC and SETI@home gave a good discussion of what's required to run a successful project of this kind. The social questions of how to get a good user base have to be addressed as well as the technological problems. Several techniques exist but getting the BBC on your side must count as a particular useful one.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Presentation: Putting IT all together

This is a presentation I gave to an audience of University staff: 

In this seminar, I invite you to consider what the University’s online services would be like, if we worked together to design them from the perspective of the student or member of staff who will use them, instead of designing them around the organisational units that provide them. I’ll start with how the services might appear to that student or member of staff, then work back from there to show what this implies for how we work, how we manage our data, and how we integrate our IT systems. It might even lead to changes in our organisational structure.

Our online services make a vital and valued contribution to the work of our students and staff. I argue that with better integration, more consistent user interfaces, and shared data, this contribution could be significantly enhanced.

This practice is called “Enterprise Architecture”. I’ll describe how it consults multiple organisational units and defines a framework …

Not so simple...

A common approach to explaining the benefits of Enterprise Architecture is to draw two diagrams: one that shows a complicated mess of interconnections, and one that shows a nicely layered set of blocks. Something like this one, which came from some consultants:


I've never felt entirely happy with this approach.  Yes, we do want to remove as much of the needless complexity and ad-hoc design that litters the existing architecture.  Yes, we do want to simplify the architecture and make it more consistent and intelligible.  But the simplicity of the block diagram shown here is unobtainable in the vast majority of real enterprises.  We have a mixture of in-house development and different third-party systems, some hosted in-house, some on cloud infrastructure and some accessed as software-as-a-service.  For all the talk of standards, vendors use different authentication systems, different integration systems, and different user interfaces.

So the simple block diagram is, basically, a l…

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…