Solve the global water crisis from your laptop

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The Independent Online

Help solve the global water crisis by leaving your laptop alone for a few hours and letting it join the millions of other computers on the Worldwide Community Grid.

This was one of the projects announced on September 7 by IBM which sponsors a global community of personal computers known as the Worldwide Community Grid. Scientists can tap into the idle processing power of computers on the grid and then use it to develop water filtering technology, research into treatments for water-related diseases and clean up polluted water sources.

By using the processing power provided by the 1.5 million computers linked into the grid, scientists will be able to perform online environmental simulations, crunch numbers and pose hypothetical scenarios faster than before.

While networks of personal computers have previously been used for projects such as searching for extraterrestrial life, this is the first time a community of personal computers has been used in such a way to tackle a global environmental problem.

Scientists from the University of Virginia will use the Worldwide Community Grid to gain a better understanding of the effects of agricultural, commercial and industrial actions on Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast of the USA, and in Brazil scientists are using the grid to seek a cure to waterborne disease schistosomiasis.

In China researchers from Tsinghua University in cooperation with scientists in Australia and Switzerland are also using the grid to seek ways to purify contaminated water.

Computer users can become part of the global community by registering online at and installing a free secure program which runs on Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, when a user's computer is idle or between keystrokes the program requests data from the Worldwide Community Grid.