March 13, 2013
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Fighting Wildfires with Data
Dennis Gannon, Director of Cloud Research Strategy, Microsoft Research Connections

When wildfires strike, all eyes turn to the clouds, hoping for a downpour that will quench the flames. Now, wildfire prevention teams on the Greek island of Lesvos are looking to a different kind of cloud for help, thanks to the VENUS-C Fire application and the computing power of Windows Azure.
The Fire app determines the daily wildfire risk on Lesvos during the months of May to October, when the annual dry season turns the island's forests into a tinder box. The application not only alerts fire prevention teams of the risk, it also enables firefighters to design and coordinate an effective response when a wildfire breaks out. As a result, the island's fire prevention personnel have been better prepared to predict, respond to, and stop fires, preventing potential loss of life and property.
Developed by the Geography of Natural Disasters Laboratory at the University of Aegean in Greece, the Fire app is designed to calculate and visualize the risk of wildfire ignition and to simulate fire propagation. The end users are primarily emergency  responders, including the fire service, fire departments, and civil protection agencies that address wildfires on the island of Lesvos.
Efficient Cryptography 
Efficient Cryptography for the Next Generation Secure Cloud
Alptekin Küpçü, assistant professor at Koç University College of Engineering, leading the Cryptography, Security & Privacy Research Group he has founded.
We all benefit from the endless alternatives that cloud provides us regarding our storage, computation, and distribution needs. For example, Dropbox or Wuala store our data in the cloud, so that we can reach it anywhere, anytime. Amazon EC2 and SETI@Home projects let us outsource a computational job that is beyond our computer's capabilities to the cloud. This way, more powerful machines or multiple other computers help us solve the problem. Rapidshare and BitTorrent are pervasive examples that help us distribute the files that we want to share with friends or with the world, easily, without overloading our own resources. Unfortunately, all these benefits are not without any risk!
Do you use Dropbox, Sugarsync, Box, Google Drive, or a similar service? If so, do you know that these companies are not responsible in case of a loss of or modification to your data on their servers? Unfortunately, none of the current cloud storage systems provide any provable guarantees about the integrity of your data. Yet, by using cryptographic techniques, it is possible to check for the integrity of the stored data, and get an appropriate proof.

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Systems Engineering: The Key to Optimizing Business Value in Product Development 
Speaker: Steve Shoaf, IBM

The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” provides sage advice for product manufacturers who are trying to squeeze every last drop of efficiency from their product development processes. However, how do we know whether it’s broke or not? 

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