In the midst of the global effort to contain the amount of damage that the Ebola Virus has done, Microsoft has decided to do their part by offering free research applications and cloud computing tools to the medical researchers who are working on the cure for the disease. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced the availability of Azure, the cloud-computing program that Microsoft developed, to all the research teams involved in the Ebola outbreak in a presentation he gave in San Francisco. Nadella also revealed that Microsoft’s own team of researchers have been working on a tool that aids in vaccine discovery which he is also offering to the research community.
To make the efforts spread even farther, Microsoft has also announced that they are soliciting cloud computing proposals that could be used in the development of a cure for Ebola as well as in creating a better understanding about the virus and the way it spreads and advances. The company says that allocations of Microsoft Azure will be awarded to those whose proposals will qualify.
Microsoft Azure supports a number of tools, languages and frameworks including Linux, Java, Python, Hadoop and Microsoft .NET. Qualified proposals should meet the following requirements:
* The proposal should not exceed three pages in length.
* The title of the proposal should include the word “Ebola.”
* The proposal should be submitted with the online application form provided.
No deadline has been set for submissions and the solicitation remains open for all proposals with ongoing reviews. All applicants should be affiliated with an academic institution.
Aside from individual investigator projects, Microsoft is also open to any kind of project that would help give access to different services and data that would be relevant to healthcare workers and medical researchers who are working on the Ebola crisis.
So far, the Ebola Virus has killed over 4,500 people in West Africa, and the number of potential victims continues to grow by the day.
Aside from offering their cloud computing tools for the Ebola victims and towards the research that goes into it, Microsoft has been known to help out in different issues as part of their corporate social responsibility programs. According to Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, the company believes in using cloud computing tools and the general power of information technology to help address some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.
Among Microsoft’s known efforts to help in disasters on a global scale is their participation in the relief efforts after Typhoon Haiyan (November 2013), which affected over 4 million people in the Visayan region of the Philippines alone. Aside from providing over $1.1 million in relief support both in cash and in kind, they also deployed emergency connectivity kits to help establish communications among over 5,000 humanitarian aid workers as all systems were down in the area for at least a few months after the storm has passed. Other global disasters that Microsoft has aided were the 2012 storms in the US East Coast and the 2011 earthquake in Japan.