Vodafone and Imperial College extend DreamLab app to tackle climate change

Smartphones, Telecoms

Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London are extending their partnership to model the impact of climate change on cyclones and extreme weather using the DreamLab mobile phone app which already helps 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.

Says Andrew Dunnett, Director of Vodafone Foundation: 

“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.”

Adds 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.

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.


Chris Price
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