There is still plenty of opportunity for New Zealand and international companies to be part of the world’s largest IT project.
New Zealand may have missed out to South Africa and Australia for being a location of hundreds of antennas under the $3 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) initiative to better map the universe.
“But the computing requirements and delivery for the global initiative are still to be determined,” says Nicolas Erdody, director of Oamaru-based company Open Parallel, which participates at the Software Development Environment work package within the Canadian Central Signal Processor consortium.
“Many new computer and computing technologies will need to be developed in order for the telescope to be delivered and operated, and New Zealand IT companies have the opportunity to be part of this effort. The business that could result is immense.”
Erdody is organising a Computing for SKA workshop at Auckland’s AUT university on February 27 and 28 with Dr. Andrew Ensor -Director of NZ SKA Alliance, and Prof. Sergei Gulyaev from AUT. Computing for SKA is collocated with the III Multicore World Conference, also at AUT and organised by Erdody's company Open Parallel.
The use of multicore computers and parallel programming will be vital components of the SKA, and Erdody says that New Zealand companies, researchers, academia and developer communities can be part of the pre-construction phase up to 2016, and its delivery from 2017.
“These technological developments constitute multiple, significant opportunities to create positive economic impact,” he says.
“The SKA is a good source of defined needs, which over the coming years will be shared by many industries across the world. For those companies now trying to factor the swing to cloud computing and e-infrastructure into their business planning for the future, this is an opportunity to join the project and so ensure the delivered outputs help them in their everyday businesses.”
SKA Architect Tim Cornwell, from the SKA Organisation (UK) will give the keynote presentation on the four key factors in computing for the project.
John Humphreys (Chair, Australasian SKA & Big Data Industry Consortium) -who also speaks at the workshop, says: “SKA can be seen as an excellent global project to extend the boundaries of scientific-only endeavour, or as a catalyst for ‘step-jump’ innovation that is led by the Big Data story and the realisation of associated non-astronomy opportunities”.
AUT’s Prof. John Bancroft’s talk will focus on examples of possible opportunities for both supply companies and potential new user communities to leverage the SKA project and its outputs to their own commercial advantage.
Erdody says New Zealand can leverage off the big data opportunities from SKA.
“One of the workshop’s main purposes is to address ‘what’s in it for industry’,” he says.
“We need to be aware that by being part of the design stage of SKA, individual companies and New Zealand be in a much better position to take advantage of the multicore computing changes about to occur. To do so, and to tap into SKA’s promise, people need to get to this workshop.”