“Ontario getting cutting-edge research and development centre with backing from IBM” | Louise Brown | April 10, 2012 | Toronto Star

New IBM Canada Research and Development Centre with consortium across Ontario Universities will work towards the Smarter Planet vision.

Put simply, it’s a $210 million deal to help smart people use fancy computers to tackle some of the biggest problems of modern life, from traffic jams and old buildings that waste energy to getting better at treating disease. [….]

With a contribution of $175 million over several years, IBM Canada is the chief backer of a new project to be called the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre.

With an additional $20 million from Ottawa and $15 million from Queen’s Park, the project will create 145 research jobs for PhD students scattered across IBM’s labs in Ontario and a university consortium that includes the University of Toronto, Western University, McMaster University, Queen’s University, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the University of Ottawa and Waterloo University.

Using a new generation of computer firepower that can store and crunch unimaginable volumes of data, researchers led by U of T, Western and IBM will brainstorm solutions for problems ranging from urban growth and disease control to water pollution and even climate prediction.

“In the field of health alone, we have never had more data than we have today. It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose, it’s so overwhelming,” said U of T president David Naylor, a medical doctor.  […]

Western computer science professor Michael Bauer offers an example.

“Take health care in Ontario. Imagine the volume of data about each one of us that’s in our doctors’ offices and our pharmacies and in hospitals from our visits. There’s tons and tons of it. But if we could drill down into it and mine that for nuggets, there’s no telling what we could do, both individually to help our doctors serve us better and system-wide,” said Bauer, who was beginning to work on the initiative Tuesday afternoon, mere hours after it was unveiled at U of T.  [….]

Researchers will do much of their collaboration in the virtual “clouds” — digital forums where people can swap ideas in private — that will be helped by upgrading U of T’s and Western’s supercomputers and also by building an eco-friendly IBM data centre in Barrie, scheduled to open this fall to help handle the load of fresh thought.

“You could have two guys at Western working on traffic congestion along with three from our lab and two from the U of T, but through software and agile computing they’ll all be interconnected and will work as a team,” explained IBM Canada president John Lutz.

Although “cloud computing” is a model being used commercially in a number of places, IBM Canada vice-president Pat Horgan said this is the only “cloud” he is aware of for basic research collaboration between universities and the private sector.  [….]

“Ontario getting cutting-edge research and development centre with backing from IBM” | Louise Brown | April 10, 2012 | Toronto Star at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1159427–ontario-getting-cutting-edge-research-and-development-centre-with-backing-from-ibm.

Left to right, University of Toronto president David Naylor, IBM Canada president John Lutz, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Gary Goodyear listen to speeches at the University of Toronto's Hart House.