Press Release | 04 Mar 2022

Vodafone Foundation announces cyclone modelling research partnership with Imperial College London powered by DreamLab smartphone networking app

Vodafone Foundation announces cyclone modelling research partnership with Imperial College London powered by DreamLab smartphone networking app

Ordinary people everywhere will be able to use the DreamLab app to help investigate the impact of climate change on cyclones and other extreme weather.

  • New project with Imperial to create world’s largest cyclone model.
  • The DreamLab app connects smartphones to create a ‘supercomputer’ that performs research while users sleep.
  • Two million users across 17 countries have already helped accelerate research into treatments for COVID-19 and cancer.

4 March 2022, London: Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London are extending their partnership to model the impact of climate change on cyclones and extreme weather using the award-winning DreamLab mobile phone app, that has already supported 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 two 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 user data.

Long Covid and cancer: How your smartphone is helping scientists

Researchers are heading to their labs to test treatments identified by DreamLab as ones that could help people suffering from Long Covid and cancer.

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.

Andrew Dunnett, Director of Vodafone Foundation, welcomed the announcement:

“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.”

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.”

In October 2021, Vodafone Foundation launched a search for organisations conducting research that might require the processing power of DreamLab to analyse data on climate change or address a climate-related issue. The appeal went out to the 17 countries currently hosting the DreamLab platform.

DreamLab now available in 17 countries on iOS and Android

DreamLab is available to download worldwide and can also be used 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 through WiFi 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 WiFi. Those on other networks will be asked how much data they would like to donate to power the app or can connect through WiFi.

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About Vodafone Foundation

Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1193984) believes the power of connectivity can change lives and address some of the world’s most pressing problems. Founded in 1991 with a simple mission to invest in the communities in which Vodafone operates, today the charity connects people and ideas with technology and funding, to help those already doing good work to achieve results faster, more cost effectively and with a bigger social impact. Through a strategy of Connecting for Good, Vodafone Group PLC’s philanthropic arm works in partnership with other charitable organisations and NGOs to bring about long-term sustainable change and improve 480 million lives by 2025.

About DreamLab

First launched by Vodafone Australia Foundation in 2015, DreamLab launched in the UK in May 2018 to power vitally important cancer research being carried out at Imperial College London. Using DreamLab to analyse the properties of more than 8,000 everyday foods, the research identified more than 110 anti-cancer molecules in everyday foods including oranges, cabbages and grapes.

The second discovery was that two existing drugs designed for treating other conditions could potentially play a role in anti-cancer therapy. With these drugs already in therapeutic use, their approval for use in fighting cancer carries lower costs, fewer risks and is quicker than developing completely new drugs.

Research facilitated by DreamLab has been reported in a scientific paper published by Nature. Imperial College London researchers also published a Hyperfoods Cookbook, featuring 10 recipes that incorporate foods found by the research to have disease-fighting properties.

DreamLab Corona-AI: accelerating research into potential treatments for COVID-19

Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London launched the DreamLab Corona-AI project in April 2020 to accelerate research into potential treatments for COVID-19 patients. DreamLab Corona-AI uses AI network machine learning to analyse virus-host interactome data and identify combinations of drugs and food molecules with anti-viral properties. To date, the DreamLab Corona-AI project has completed more than 300 million calculations and tested 450 billion molecular combinations – the equivalent of 11,664 years of high-spec desktop computing time.

The first phase of DreamLab Corona-AI was completed in six months and identified insights into existing medicines for cardiovascular and metabolic disorders and their potential to be ‘repurposed’ to target SARS-CoV-2. The project also pinpointed molecules with antiviral properties in everyday foods including berries, apples, oranges, lemons, cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic, parsley, and beans.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, we have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, rising to 35 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. By spring 2022, our target is to make full fibre services available to more than eight million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

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