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IBM lab aims to help prepare for natural disasters

An IBM R&D laboratory that will focus on preparing the community to cope better with major natural disasters opened in Melbourne on 14 October.

The Commonwealth government has provided AU$22 million for the lab, which will apply advanced computing to facilitate better management of natural resources, diseases and agricultural yields.

It will employ around 150 researchers over the next five years.

The lab will engage with researchers from institutions that include the University of Melbourne, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), National ICT Australia (NICTA) and Australian business.

It will focus its resources on: innovation in areas related to resource discovery, production, supply chain and operations using advanced techniques in monitoring, analytics and automation of resources including oil, gas, minerals, water and food; expanding and integrating expertise in the management of natural disasters, including real time event processing, weather modelling, traffic management and mobility in the event of evacuation and communication and emergency responses; and extending the work begun in the IBM Collaboratory to translate life sciences research into clinical applications.

The lab opening coincides with the development of the National Disaster Management Research Initiative at the University of Melbourne, which will bring together researchers with expertise in disaster management.