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Vodafone Foundation announces cyclone modelling research partnership with Imperial College London powered by DreamLab smartphone networking app

04 Mar 2022Vodafone Foundation news
5 minute read
  • New project with Imperial to create world’s largest cyclone model
  • The Dreamlab app connects smartphones to create a ‘supercomputer’ that performs research while users sleep
  • 2 million users across 17 countries have already helped accelerate research into treatments for COVID-19 and cancer

4 March 2022, London: Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London are extending their partnership to model the impact of climate change on cyclones and extreme weather using the award-winning DreamLab mobile phone app, that has already supported scientists with COVID-19 and cancer research.

Building on their existing relationship, DreamLab will help researchers at Imperial College London to build the world’s largest public database of simulated tropical cyclone events – a major global hazard adversely affecting millions of people and causing billions of dollars in damage every year.

Developed by Vodafone Foundation, DreamLab is a specialist crowdsourcing app that accelerates scientific research by using the processing power of dormant smartphones while users charge them at night.  With almost 2 million downloads across 17 countries to date, the network of smartphones created by DreamLab is equivalent to a virtual supercomputer capable of processing billions of calculations without collecting or disclosing any users’ data.

Scientists at Imperial College London will use this network to apply and process algorithms based on existing knowledge of tropical cyclones, building a comprehensive and statistically robust view of plausible causes that can improve modelling of a key risk people face from climate change.

Andrew Dunnett, Director of Vodafone Foundation, welcomed the announcement:

“I am delighted that DreamLab will soon apply its computing power to support research into climate change and the extreme weather patterns it creates, building on our previous COVID-19 and cancer research projects with Imperial College London.”

Professor Ralf Toumi, a physicist at Imperial College London who specialises in the science of tropical cyclones, said:

We are delighted to be working with DreamLab users to build the world's largest public database of simulated tropical cyclone events.

Hundreds of millions of people are impacted by tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons every year, and the damage costs billions of dollars. They are relatively rare – but climate change is likely to increase their frequency and intensity. By simulating natural disasters, we can protect more people by learning more about them. We can even predict the impact global warming will have on them in the future.”

The announcement follows a search by Vodafone Foundation, launched in October 2021, for organisations conducting research that requires the processing power of DreamLab to analyse data on climate change or address a climate-related issue that appealed across the 17 countries currenting hosting the DreamLab platform.

Dreamlab now available in 17 countries on iOS and Android

DreamLab is available to download worldwide and can also be powered by mac laptop or desktop users. It is free to use for Vodafone customers in Albania, Australia, Czech Republic, DRC, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lesotho, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain and the UK. Customers in the Netherlands and those on other networks can connect via Wi-Fi or will be asked how much data they would like to donate to power the app.

The DreamLab app is available in the App Store for iOS or Play Store for Android. Vodafone customers can activate DreamLab for free using either mobile data or Wi-Fi. Those on other networks will be asked how much data they would like to donate to power the app or can connect via Wi-Fi.


About Vodafone Foundation:

Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1193984) believes the power of connectivity can change lives and address some of the world’s most pressing problems. Founded in 1991 with a simple mission to invest in the communities in which Vodafone operates, today the charity connects people and ideas with technology and funding, to help those already doing good work to achieve results faster, more cost effectively and with a bigger social impact. Through a strategy of Connecting for Good, Vodafone Group PLC’s philanthropic arm works in partnership with other charitable organisations and NGOs to create solutions that bring about long-term sustainable change and improve 480m lives by 2025. Learn more at www.vodafonefoundation.org  

About DreamLab:

First launched by Vodafone Australia Foundation in 2015, DreamLab launched in the UK in May 2018 to power vitally important cancer research being carried out at Imperial College London. Using DreamLab to analyse the properties of more than 8,000 everyday foods, the research identified more than 110 anti-cancer molecules existed in everyday foods including oranges, cabbages and grapes. The second discovery was that two existing drugs designed for treated other conditions could potentially play a role in anti-cancer therapy.  With these drugs already in therapeutic use, their approval for use in fighting cancer carries lower costs, fewer risks and is quicker than developing completely new drugs.

Research facilitated by DreamLab has been reported in a scientific paper published by Nature. Imperial College London researchers also published a Hyperfoods Cookbook, featuring ten recipes that incorporate foods found by the research to have disease fighting properties.

Dreamlab Corona-AI: accelerating research into potential treatments for COVID-19

Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London launched the DreamLab Corona-AI project in April 2020 to accelerate research into potential treatments for COVID-19 patients. DreamLab Corona-AI uses AI network machine learning to analyse virus-host interactome data and identify combinations of drugs and food molecules with anti-viral properties. To date, the DreamLab Corona-AI project has completed more than 300 million calculations and tested 450 billion molecular combinations – the equivalent of 11,664 years of high-spec desktop computing time.

The first phase of DreamLab Corona-AI was completed in six months and identified insights into existing medicines for cardiovascular and metabolic disorders and their potential to be ‘repurposed’ to target SARS-CoV-2. The project also pin-pointed molecules with antiviral properties in everyday foods including berries, apples, oranges, lemons cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic, parsley, and beans.

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