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ITaaU Network+: September 2014: Issue 9
Collaborating with research teams, businesses, entrepreneurs and policy makers to understand the information technology behind the Digital Economy

Community conference: ITaaU people, ideas and achievements

Steve Brewer


Our first community conference proved to be a great success with many attendees wanting to put a date in their diaries for the next event.

As ITaaU is an emergent network, many of the attendees had never met before while others had perhaps only exchanged emails or tweets. The tightly packed programme delivered a wealth of information on the funded pilot projects, workshops and other activities that the network has enabled. The meals and coffee breaks provided time for conversations to flourish and new partnerships and introductions to be formed.

Interdisciplinary collaboration, trustworthiness and design matters have arguably emerged as the three main themes that cut across all of the topics inherent in the idea of IT as a Utility. We will certainly return to these in future workshops. However, to capture the work to date and the discussions at the conference, a booklet is being produced that will summarise the findings of the network so far and celebrate the success of the community conference.

“It was extremely rewarding to see how the very diverse community we have been attempting to build really appreciate how much in common they have and how much they can learn from each other and other disciplines. The comment from one participant that 'this [meeting] has already changed the way I think about things' really sums up what we have achieved," said Jeremy Frey, ITaaU chief PI, of the conference.


Delivering food security from the cloud to the app - workshop


The security of information within and about the food supply chain, or more accurately, food supply network has been a key theme for ITaaU since the network's inception. The agenda-setting two-day conference in Northern Ireland last autumn initiated many sub-topics and personal introductions. This event at the University of Southampton built upon this work and welcomed new experts to the effective working group. In addition to Sian Thomas from the UK Food Standards Agency (pictured) we were very pleased to welcome Guy Poppy from Southampton who was in the process of taking up his new role as chief scientific officer for the FSA.

ITaaU co-investigator Gerard Parr from the University of Ulster brought the attendees up to date with the previous work in this area in the UK as well as the ongoing discussions with equivalent bodies in Ireland.


Apps for Healthcare - workshop


This workshop began with a fascinating and stimulating presentation from David Rew (pictured), consultant surgeon at the University Hospital of Southampton, on his ongoing work in developing a data analysis system to support surgeons like himself working in the field of breast cancer.

Paul Watson from Newcastle University presented an update of his work on apps and other systems for health and wellbeing in a socially inclusive context and also summarised benefits of bringing experts together at events like this to share best practice and explore future opportunities.


Winter in New York: WSDM talks and more


At the start of the year Steve Brewer presented a short submission co-authored with Jeremy Frey at Web Search and Data Mining 2014 in New York. The submission had been accepted for the workshop Data Design for Personalization: Current Challenges and Emerging Opportunities run by Elizabeth Churchill, who is director of human computer interaction at eBay Research Labs in San Jose, California. The keynote talk from Sri Subramaniam of Groupon, called The Frontier in Personalization: E-commerce Discovery, focused on the role of physical location in terms of understanding user preferences and the importance of unobtrusive UX to delight and surprise customers.

After the workshop participants were invited to make a tour of some top tech outposts in NYC. These included Cornell University's Chelsea base within the Google building and the buzzing Betaworks labs. The tour also included a frosty but sunny walk along the stunning High Line Park which occupies a disused overhead railway spur.


Libraries of the Future: community engagement - Aberdeen


Libraries of the Future: community engagement - Aberdeen 25-26 March, 2014

The most recent libraries of the future workshop took place at the Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen earlier in the year.

The goals of the day were to:
• Explore role of IT utilities in the context of the evolving role of
• Capture key issues for libraries engaging with their communities.
• Articulate a route forward for investigating and developing these findings.
• Broaden the network of people with interests in this area.

In addition to the talks and discussions the attendees were also taken on a tour of the special collections department to learn about the extensive learning and outreach programme that encompasses schools, communities, volunteers and interns, exhibitions, and the wider community.

There were two key discussion points for the workshop: business models; and where does the community keep its memories? These proved to be rich and productive. Suggestions for future work included the idea of the community as the library and new methods of co-creation to enable the "community as creator and curator".

The full report is available

UX boot camp - ustwo

Next ustwo UX bootcamp: 9 September 2014

ustwo is a leading global digital product studio with designers based in London, New York and Malmo, Sweden. We are pleased to announce another collaborative UX boot camp to be run at ustwo's Tech City base in Shoreditch. We run these workshops because design in general and apps specifically form a key part of the IT utility aspect of the digital economy.

Furthermore, the UX boot camps are evolving as more feedback is acquired and there is an underlying ethos developing which draws heavily on the lean startup philosophy most ably captured by writer Eric Ries.

2014-05-08 16.13.32

Consequently, these events are not just for developers and designers but anyone interested in the cutting edge aspects of startups and other lean and agile organisations.

Registration and further information

ITaaU cloud computing workshop – health, well-being and big data analysis

This one-day workshop will bring together the activities of the IT as a Utility Network+ and the Digital Institute at Newcastle University. The aim of the day is to share the experiences of the two initiatives in understanding and developing cloud platforms for the delivery of social and health services.

The event is targeted at those interested in the health and life sciences sector as well as app developers and designers. Those who have attended previous ITaaU events will also appreciated that the discussions will inevitably draw in issues of trust, ethics and policy.

Paul Watson also leads the £12m RCUK-funded Digital Economy Hub on Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy.

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Registration and further information

Cloud computing workshop: technology transition for business transformation

Cloud workshop: 30 September - 1 October 2014

The goal for this workshop is to conduct a stock take on how the cloud is maturing as a business model based on people’s practical experiences.

Questions that will be reflected upon by the speakers and participants include: what are the benefits offered by cloud computing? Do they differ for small, medium and large enterprises? Are the promised features of scalability, security and flexibility coming to fruition? Are newer and better opportunities opening up for service providers as well as consumers?

This is a joint symposium/mini-conference arranged by the Services to the Cloud Project and the IT as a Utility network. The aim is to share knowledge between two mature networks with overlapping interests in cloud computing. The target audience is decision makers (especially in SMEs), academics, policy makers and regulators. The programme will include a rich spread of experts covering cloud providers, software/service providers, and end users.

The event will take place in Edinburgh over two days with a timetable designed to facilitate convenient travel arrangements for attendees plus a networking buffet meal in the evening. The event is being held in the historic city of Edinburgh. The Apex Hotel is located right in the centre close to Waverly Station which also has tram connections to the international airport.

Registration and further information

Symposium: rapid deployment of cloud and utility services for fast-moving emergency situations

ITaaU will host a one-day symposium at the international Utility and Cloud Computing 2014 conference in London later in the year. We invite short papers in the form of either research reports, position papers or reflective scenario reports. We are specifically interested in gaining deeper understanding of real or envisaged situations in which distributed and disparate computing services were or could be rapidly coupled in domains such as the environment, healthcare, travel and conflict. Examples could be: flooding, disaster management, rescue missions, terrorist incidents, financial crises and disease control. Other scenarios would be welcome too. Papers should be up to 1000 words.

Applications are invited by: 26 September, 2014

Further details

Plenty more in the pipeline...

In addition to all of the above the Network is involved a data analysis workshop at the University of Southampton in September which has already been oversubscribed. This workshop is will examine modern statistical, computational and topological aspects of data analysis.

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ITaaU continues to work with the High Performance Networking team at Bristol and the rest of the UNISON network as well as COMMNET and others to look at distributed research infrastructures.

Ongoing themes that we will announce events for in the future include: security in the food network, libraries of the future and platforms for media production. We will also return to 3D printing.

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