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From NASA to the deserts of Africa. Government-sponsored and socially-significant projects written in Java

Published in the Java Developer group
Today we will talk about how Java is used by government agencies and in socially-significant projects around the world. From NASA to the deserts of Africa. Government-sponsored and socially-significant projects written in Java - 1

E-healthcare system in Austria

Austria is well-known for its state-of-the-art and convenient social security system, which includes excellent health care, reliable social insurance, and an extensive network of hospitals, doctors and pharmacies. The Austrian Social Security Law, a state insurance system that includes 22 institutions with various types of insurance coverage and social programs, insures the majority of Austrian citizens. And in recent years, one of the most advanced smart card and electronic medical records programs in the world has been added to this system, which works largely thanks to Java. From NASA to the deserts of Africa. Government-sponsored and socially-significant projects written in Java - 2

"We chose Java because of the platform advantages, especially its tremendous portability among CPUs and hardware platforms," said Rainer Schügerl, director of software development and security at SVC, an Austrian organization that creates innovative solutions for healthcare telematics and e-government. Under this system, all insured citizens receive a smart card that checks their insurance status and facilitates the creation, transfer, and storage of electronic medical records. The electronic card system also allows citizens to use various e-health services, from routine checkups to disease treatment programs. Thousands of health care providers have installed special equipment for scanning smart cards and transmitting personal data through a secure health data network, which not only covers Austria, but also extends to many other European countries, as part of the European Union's NETC@RDS project. Java is the defining technology for this system. "Java provides a stable, high-quality programming language that suits all of our needs. For enterprise-caliber development requiring high availability, reliability, and security, most Austrian organizations use Java," adds Rainer Schügerl.

Providing clean drinking water to people in Africa

A special mobile app written in Java collects and organizes the results of Safe Water Kenya, a Kenyan state project whose task is to provide clean drinking water to rural families in remote regions of East Africa. According to the World Health Organization, more than 2 million people, 95% of whom are children, die each year from the effects of various diseases transmitted through water. "It's not just a matter of illness; there's an economic factor as well. There are not too many people in Africa with salaries, so if they get sick, they don't work, and they don't get paid for that day," says Don Arnold, executive director and founder of Safe Water Kenya (SWK). From NASA to the deserts of Africa. Government-sponsored and socially-significant projects written in Java - 3

To address critical problems with clean drinking water in rural Kenya, SWK began installing Hydraid BioSand water filters based on environmentally-friendly sand filtration technology. "We have installed 2,500 [filtration systems] so far. We figure the average family has seven people, so that in just a matter of a year or so, we have affected 17,000 lives. It's a rather complicated process. To document the installations to our donors, we have to fill out an extensive survey that includes photos, GPS coordinates, and a signature from the receiving party," said Don Arnold. This requirement is satisfied by a Java-based solution — Survey App, which was designed for devices running the Android operating system. This app was developed by US company mFrontiers, which in 2014 received the Oracle Excellence Award for Sustainability Innovations for this work. After installing each filter, SWK workers use this app to add information about the filter to the system. "The survey consists of seven or eight pages on an Android tablet, each of which has five or six questions. Using the tablet, they [SWK workers] also take photos of the family to add GPS coordinates because there are no street addresses," says Daniel Pahng, head of mFrontiers, who personally developed the Survey App using the jQuery open source JavaScript library. In the last stage, the app saves the recipient's signature and the water filter's serial number. Since there is usually no Internet access in remote areas of Kenya, the data is stored on the Android tablet in an Oracle Berkeley DB datastore. When the Safe Water Kenya workers return to the organization's headquarters, the data is automatically downloaded from the tablet to a cloud database.

NASA space exploration

The US agency NASA uses Java in several rather interesting projects and applications. One such project is World Wind. This is an SDK that you can use to reduce the scale of satellite imagery. This tool empowers everyone to be able to explore different parts of the surface of our planet. From NASA to the deserts of Africa. Government-sponsored and socially-significant projects written in Java - 4

The data source for this model is a combination of Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data. NASA engineers provide over 90 examples that demonstrate how this SDK can be used. In general, Java technologies are used by NASA in a variety of projects as part of the space program and space exploration. "So far, Java's performance has never failed us. We are really pleased with the performance of our Java applications. None of the performance issues that we have encountered tod date have been related to choosing Java as the platform. Most of our bottlenecks that exist have to do with data bandwidth limits, and legacy software speed. One of the unique requirements is that we must use accredited software. This means that we can’t just pull in third-party JAR files at will, but we can use anything already contained within the JDK," said Nick Sabey, senior analyst and software developer at NASA's Risk Assessment Group for Robotic Connections. By the way, NASA is still actively hiring Java developers. You can view job openings for Java coders at the US space agency on a special page on the Indeed website.

Virtual medical examinations

Another system with great potential for healthcare applications, especially in developing countries, is the Online Doctor System, whose applications run on Java. This system helps doctors conduct virtual examinations and online patient consultations. The application allows the patient to fill out a special form a few seconds before receiving a visual examination by a doctor. You can also download exam results (for example, x-rays), your medical history, and much more. The Online Doctor System app includes several modules to simplify the medical examination. Patients can select the doctors they are interested in and make an appointment, also using the app to pay for the appointment with a credit card. The developers note that in the future, Java technology could be used to create doctor apps that use artificial intelligence to examine patients. The AI will make a diagnosis and recommend treatment, relying on an array of collected patient data, as well as test results and other information uploaded by the patient. Doctor bots integrated into various devices will soon be able to perform many simple procedures, such as measuring a patient's body temperature, heart rate, or blood pressure. Experts note that these technologies will significantly reduce the cost of professional medical care, making it accessible even to the most disadvantaged segments of society.

Autonomous transport

Java is also being actively used in projects to achieve "smart", i.e. autonomous, transport. In particular, Perrone Robotics has developed several Java-based software components for automated transport. From NASA to the deserts of Africa. Government-sponsored and socially-significant projects written in Java - 5

Perrone Robotics has a whole platform for autonomous vehicle solutions called MAX. Many of its components are written in Java. This platform is used in a variety of fields: from automated shuttles and buses to large industrial trucks and construction equipment. The developers note that Java helped them achieve this level of versatility in their system. "Our system is designed to be suitable for all types of vehicles. The same software works with a wide range of platforms and applications. We managed to achieve this, because our system consists of a set of software building blocks that can be used for a wide range of vehicles and robots. Java provides a significant part of this versatility," says Paul Perrone, founder and CEO of Perrone Robotics.


As we can see, Java is far more than just social media apps or trendy new services for ordering and delivering stuff. Java technologies play an important role in many truly important and innovative projects that enhance our lives. This is important to know for current and future Java coders who want not only to make good money using their skills, but also to be involved in something meaningful and helpful. Indeed, this is even often more important than money, because a sense of purpose and a contribution to the common good is precisely what makes our lives fulfilling and happy.
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