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ITaaU Network+: October 2013: Issue: 6
Collaborating with research teams, businesses, entrepreneurs and policy makers to understand the information technology behind the Digital Economy

Human Data Interaction: ITaaU workshop at the Open Data Institute, London

Steve Brewer


On Wednesday 2 October the Open Data Institute boardroom was packed with researchers from many disciplines who had gathered to discus the concept of Human Data Interaction (HDI). The topic had been proposed by Richard Mortier (University of Nottingham, ITaaU co-investigator) and Hamed Haddadi (Queen Mary University of London) to emphasise the importance of human interaction when addressing themes such as big data. The 40 or so participants represented computer science, law, art, social science, ethnography, cartography, economics, mathematics and more.

Richard introduced the workshop by announcing that there is an increasingly pervasive data collection activity underway which is generating much analysis, including on usage. Not all of this activity is bad and some features are quite useful, such as targeted advertising. However, some key questions arise: can you meaningfully provide informed consent if you don’t fully understand the implications?

The conclusions reached on the day pointed to the value of developing HDI as a theme to unite research in a variety of fields but that it was not to be seen as a new niche in itself. An ITaaU sub-group will be formed to enable the participants and other interested parties to take these ideas forward.

Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Churchill.

Libraries for the Future 3: ITaaU Workshop at the British Library, London - 13 November, 2013

Libraries have always had a fundamental stake in data and information. As we move deeper into a digitised world this relationship and its demands are evolving in many fascinating ways. Based on ideas that have emerged from previous meetings, this workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners interested in identifying the key elements that will be integral to libraries for the future.

The traditional hierarchy of data, information, knowledge and wisdom underpins many facets of library services. However, the increased digitisation of the sector necessitates both change and disruption. If libraries are considered to be social systems, how will these services evolve and who might be the stakeholders involved in this transition? This applies as much to the core data as the annotations that creep into the margins of data sets.

If these and other questions are of interest to you then join us on 13 November at the British Library in London.

Find out more and register

Security and Trust: ITaaU workshop at the University of Southampton - 21-22 November, 2013

Trust and Security will be the twin topics for a two-day workshop at the University of Southampton on 21 and 22 November. The workshop will bring together researchers and experts from academia, industry and other bodies to explore both the technical and the social aspects of these two topics and how they relate to the concept of IT utilities. Broadly, the workshop will be split with one day focusing on trust and the other on security.

This means that we will be approaching the topic from two directions: technology, mathematics and computer science on the one hand - and the social science aspects, including ethnography and anthropology, on the other. Some participants may only be interested in one side of the trust/security coin, but we hope that many will be interested in both. Participants are encourage to circulate papers and other suggestions for preparatory reading before the event.

Find out more and register

Promoting and Discovering Services: ITaaU Workshop, University of Southampton - 11 February, 2014

The concept of IT utilities realised as essential services that we can take for granted offers many benefits to users, as well as developers looking to build new utilities on top of existing ones. Various challenges therefore exist in terms of how these utilities will be delivered and discovered, not to mention more specific business differentiators such as cost, add-on benefits, service levels and other quality matters.

The essential needs for utility delivery are different from those of services in a number of ways but key among these is dependability. When we subscribe to the traditional utilities: gas, electricity, water and telephone (and increasingly, broadband and email) we take it for granted that they will always be there. While achieving this may be quite complex, from the users point of view delivery must appear to be seamless.

Furthermore, metadata has almost become a utility in its own right. Should we expect the metadata surrounding our energy delivery to be seamlessly passed to us for analysis and decisionmaking? Is it inevitable that IT utilities will be provided by large organisations in the traditional business model or is there a role for smaller entities to deliver robust and reliable utilities? Is the government's G-Cloud model, whereby multiple organisations and even departments can contribute to providing services via a cloud directory, a useful reference point here?

The goal for this workshop is to examine these issues from the software developer's perspective. What utilities might they depend upon, what utilities might they be able to offer? What services might be needed that have thus far not been identified? How might IT utilities affect the role of IT services in research environments whether in universities or commercial organisations' research labs?

Find out more and register

Call for Secondment Proposals (Call 2) - deadline: 31 October 2013

The ITaaU Network+ is looking for individuals with research interests who are based in academia, industry or within policy bodies (including government) who wish to spend up to two months working in a complementary professional environment. Applications proposing secondment projects can originate from either individuals or organisations.

The ITaaU Network+ provides support for secondments that provide a valuable opportunity for researchers to benefit from a temporary transfer to a different research environment. Within the context of IT as a Utility, secondments offer opportunities for career development, sectoral knowledge transfer and access to short term skills for project development. In return for assisting with financial support and matchmaking, all we ask for is a report highlighting your achievements
at the end of the secondment and a series of lively blog posts during the experience.

If you have any questions regarding secondments, please contact: [log in to unmask]

Secondment Call 2 application and information form

Trusted Tiny Things: ITaaU Pilot Project

The Trusted Tiny Things pilot project is based at the University of Aberdeen and brings together computer scientist Edoardo Pignotti with Peter Edwards and Nagendra Velaga from the geography and the environment department.
The aim of the project is to build upon work completed in the dot.rural Digital Economy Hub on vocabularies to describe sensors and internet enabled devices.

A software framework together with guidelines and model to represent device information will be produced. This will be supplemented by two demonstrator applications that relate to traffic management in Aberdeenshire. Further reports will appear on the ITaaU website shortly.

Uplands Rescue Resilience: ITaaU Pilot Project

The Uplands Rescue Resilience pilot project is led by Elaine Bodanese, Patrick Langdon and John Clarkson. The team, from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Cambridge, are delving into the considerable challenges faced in coordinating professional rescue operations from the police, fire service and mountain rescue teams with volunteer teams and, indeed, the citizens in danger too. Upland searches are frequently prolonged due to a lack of precise information about where citizens in danger are located coupled with the many “dead” zones that are blind to radio and cellular radio communications.

One of the objectives of this project is to narrow the casualty location area by automatically enabling the mobile device to perform self-configuring and communication tasks in a controlled manner. Cumbrian Mountain Rescue Teams who have kindly volunteered to assist in the project are keen to understand how the community can best benefit from the deployment of the technology in an emergency in a manner that can augment existing systems.

Further reports will appear on the ITaaU website shortly.

Designing for Diversity: D4D - ITaaU field study

We are pleased to welcome Dr Deveril to the ITaaU team for a short spell as he conducts field work in the area of social computing platforms in the context of usability and accessibility. Dr Deveril brings with him a wealth of experience from the Dublin Smart Lab and a multitude of projects relating to open innovation and media literacy across all abilities of users.

This work has been underpinned by a strong interest in the challenges of technologically mediated performances and communication. We hope that Dr Deveril manages to make contact with many of you across the ITaaU Network+ as part of this field work and we welcome initiatives to take this work forward into other projects beyond the network.

Communities and Culture Network+ funding opportunities

The Communities and Culture Network+ is currently accepting applications for Pilot Projects (£30-40k), Networks (£15-£18k), and Placements (£10k), in addition to our open call for Seed Projects (£1-4k).

Follow the link below for the full details of each call.

Communities and Culture Network+ funding opportunities

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