Do you want a research time machine? Apply for the Azure for Research award

Posted by s.hettrick on 22 March 2016 - 10:52am

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research

One thing that most of us never have enough of is time. Developing skills through Software Carpentry, software reusability, open data, open research, and growing the cohort of Research Software Engineers can really help reduce the time taken for us to do our research. The Software Sustainability Institute is leading the charge with this, and increasing people’s capabilities is a recipe for success. But when it comes down to it, eventually we have to run some code, a processing pipeline, big data computation, or share massive amounts of data.

This is where access to computing and data resources becomes critical, and a real bottleneck, depending on what is available to you on the desktop, at your university, or through a research centre. Cloud computing is one option that is becoming increasingly used for many tasks, and we’ve been working with Nottingham and Stirling universities to see how this can help. This EPSRC Sandpit project is streamlining aircraft movements at airports, increasing efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and ensuring on time departures and arrivals. The team worked with Manchester Airport and had to process huge amounts of aircraft movement data, and develop their data science models. Jason Atkin, assistant professor at the University of Nottingham, who developed systems that are operational at London Heathrow Airport, explains, "One of the things cloud computing does is bring the power and data processing ability of huge machines to any researcher's desk".

Sandy Brownlee was looking at waiting several months to be able to process all of his airport data, but by using Microsoft Azure he was able to do this in just a couple of weeks. He took advantage of an Azure for Research award, giving him up to a year's access to the cloud to help with his project. The next deadline for proposals is 15th April 2016, and every two months after that – you can apply here.

You can read the full story on the Microsoft Research blog.

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