STUTTGART, Germany, November 30th, 2021 – In a new project called CIRCE (Computational Immediate Response Center for Emergencies), the high-performance computing center Stuttgart (HLRS), under the auspices of the Gauss Center for Supercomputing, will conduct a study on the needs and possible uses of high performance Assess computing (HPC) in crisis situations. The three-year project will identify situations such as pandemics, natural disasters and migratory events where simulation, powerful data analysis and artificial intelligence could aid government decision-making. It will also determine what organizational procedures are required to ensure that HPC resources are immediately available at HLRS in the event of emergency situations.
CIRCE is co-financed by the Federal Ministry for Science and Education (BMBF) and the Ministry for Science, Research and Art of the State of Baden-Württemberg (MWK).
HLRS Director Michael Resch explained: “In crisis situations in particular, simulation plays an important role in supporting political decision-making. In order to achieve this goal, we will bundle our accumulated know-how and create concepts that make it possible to get our high-performance computing infrastructure up and running quickly and efficiently. “
HPC to monitor COVID-19 and address global challenges
The need for a project like CIRCE became clear in 2020 when the federal government required a quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent the health system from becoming overloaded. In April of the same year, hardware and software experts from the HLRS worked together with simulation experts from the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) on the rapid implementation of a model on the supercomputer of the HLRS that met the need for intensive care units across Germany up to 4 weeks in advance. This tool, which continues to run on the HLRS ‘Hawk supercomputer and provides daily updates to the federal government once a week, has helped policy makers make decisions about public health management related to the pandemic.
CIRCE also builds on the expertise HLRS has accumulated in the HIDALGO project, a European center of excellence focused on developing high-performance computers and big data technologies to address global challenges. The HLRS provides international research partners with computing infrastructure and expertise that investigate new simulation-based approaches for predicting migration events and urban air pollution as well as for identifying and preventing the spread of false information in social networks.
Identify urgent computing needs and fill in gaps
In the CIRCE project, HLRS will build on these experiences to identify and communicate additional needs for high-performance computing and data analysis resources for crisis management. The center will use workshops, interviews and focus groups to establish closer contacts with potential partners at federal and state level. These exploratory sessions will allow the HLRS to better understand how simulation could help meet government needs and what specific types of forecasting tools would be most beneficial. Discussions will also focus on what data is available to government agencies that could serve as the basis for predictive tools that run on the HLRS systems.
CIRCE will also examine specific scenarios in which high performance computing, high performance data analytics and artificial intelligence could be used in crises. This also includes carrying out feasibility studies with a focus on representative applications of HPC in emergencies. Through this effort, HLRS seeks to gain a better understanding of the activities and procedures required to quickly address urgent computing needs and the current gaps in preparation.
Ultimately, these efforts will prepare HLRS to assist government agencies in responding to future crises and to maximize the value of its HPC systems and expertise to keep people safe and critical infrastructure safe.
Via the high-performance computing center in Stuttgart
The high-performance computing center Stuttgart (HLRS) was founded in 1996 as the first German high-performance computing center and builds on a tradition of supercomputing at the University of Stuttgart that goes back to 1959. As a university research institution in Stuttgart and a founding member of the Gauss Center for Supercomputing – the alliance of the three national supercomputing centers in Germany – the HLRS offers state-of-the-art HPC services for academic users and industry. The HLRS operates one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, offers advanced training in HPC programming and simulation and researches central problems of the future of supercomputing. The areas of expertise of the HLRS include parallel programming, numerical methods for HPC, visualization, grid and cloud computing concepts, data analysis and artificial intelligence. HLRS computing system users operate in a wide variety of disciplines, with an emphasis on computational engineering and applied science.