Nigel Shadbolt and Wendy Hall to lead new Web Science Institute

The Web Science Institute (WSI) was launched on the 11th of November and will be based at the University of Southampton. It will be multidisciplinary, with academic staff from the humanities, social sciences, business and law acting as directors.

The WSI has a number of aims, including:

• focusing on interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships;

• demonstrating clear ambition, adaptability and innovation;

• leveraging the visionary leadership and outstanding staff and student expertise across the University;

• providing a platform for significant investment by government and external partners;

• showcasing unique and creative education programmes that set new standards internationally.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall said: “There is a ‘perfect storm’ brewing which combines open data, open education and open research, so this is a very exciting time to be launching the Web Science Institute.”

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt said: “The open data movement is one example of how the web is evolving, empowering individuals and communities to achieve phenomenal ends. The Web Science Institute will help us to understand this evolution.”

The launch of the institute was covered by the BBC.

Nigel Shadbolt gives evidence at parliamentary inquiry into statistics and open data

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt gave evidence to the parliamentary Public Administration Committee on the 22nd of October.

Stephen Shakespeare, Chief Executive of Yougov and a member of the Public Sector Transparency Board, was the second witness.

The witnesses were asked their opinions on the effectiveness of the government’s open data strategy and the extent to which more needs to be done to realise the potential of open data.

The video of the session can be found here and the transcript of the session can be found here.

Wendy Hall appointed to Connected Digital Economy Catapult board

In her new role as non-executive director of the board Professor Dame Wendy Hall will be advising on the ways in which technology can help to improve the economy and on how to encourage entrepreneurship.

A Catapult is a centre in which businesses, scientists and engineers work together on research and development. The Connected Digital Economy Catapult board is part of the Catapult Programme which was set up by the Technology Strategy Board, a government agency which provides support and funding to help businesses develop new products and services.

United Nations Committee of Experts discuss the importance of Global Geospatial Information Management

The United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management met in New York on the 13th – 15th of August, with experts from around the world being invited to contribute their views on the future trends in geospatial information management.

The report can be found here.

The committee stated:
“Given the vast amount of data being generated, particularly through use of the Web, and the need to make sense of this data, the ability to link information on the Web will be increasingly important in the coming years. To this end, data is likely to increasingly be distributed as Linked Data in the coming five to ten years. Linked Data offers the opportunity to connect data to other pieces of data on the Web, contextualising and adding value to the information that already exists. Given the amount of data already generated and the fact that this amount will continue to increase, the importance of linking data together, particularly by location, is likely to grow.”

Nigel Shadbolt to be knighted for services to Science and Engineering

Professor Shadbolt was named in the Prime Minister’s list for the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Professor Shadbolt has been instrumental in developing the interdisciplinary field of Web Science. He is Chairman and Co-Founder of the pioneering Open Data Institute (ODI). With Sir Tim Berners-Lee he led the team which developed, a single point of access for U.K. governmental data.. The two also act as Information Advisors to the U.K. government. Professor Shadbolt is a member of the Public Sector Transparency Board, which sets open data standards across the public sector in the U.K.

Alongside his many governmental roles, Professor Shadbolt is still actively involved in research, heading up the Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton.

In response to his honour Professor Shadbolt said “I’m surprised and delighted to be recognised with this very special honour. I’m fortunate to have been involved at a crucial period working with outstanding colleagues in the development of both Web Science and the Open Data movement. I hope that I can continue to make a difference as we seek to understand how the web is evolving, and ensure that we are empowered individually and collectively.”

Wendy Hall in top 100 most powerful women in the UK

The list of the top 100 most powerful women in the UK was compiled by BBC Radio 4’s long running daily programme Woman’s Hour.

The list aims to celebrate the top 100 women who have had the biggest impact on society and have inspired change and acted as role models.

Other women in the list include author J. K. Rowling, Supreme Court judge Baroness Hale, the Queen and artist Tracey Emin.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall said: “I’m delighted to have made the list. I love the way it highlights the increasingly significant role women play in every walk of life in the UK and I’m flattered to have been included in such distinguished company.”

Wendy Hall named one of the most influential people in U.K. I.T.

Following on from being named in Computer Weekly’s first ever list of the U.K.’s top 25 most influential women in I.T. in July, Professor Dame Wendy Hall has featured in Computer Weekly’s recently announced list of the most influential people in U.K. I.T.

The list was decided by a reader vote as well as an expert judging panel with representatives from across the I.T. industry.

Professor Hall was recognised for her founding of the Web Science Research Initiative with Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 2006, which is a collaborative research project between the University of Southampton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

RAGLD Beta site released

The Beta version of the site for the RAGLD (Rapid Assembly of Geo-centred Linked Data applications) project was recently released. RAGLD is a collaborative project between the Ordnance Survey, the University of Southampton and Seme4. Its main aim is to build tools to enable developers to make greater use of geo-centred linked data.

The RAGLD project started in October 2011 and is due for completion in March 2013. It is part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board‘s “Harnessing Large and Diverse Sources of Data” programme.

The advent of new standards and initiatives for data publication in the context of the World Wide Web (in particular the move to linked data formats) has resulted in the availability of rich sources of information about the changing economic, geographic and socio-cultural landscape of the United Kingdom, and many other countries around the world. In order to exploit the latent potential of these linked data assets, the provision of access to tools and technologies that enable data consumers to easily select, filter, manipulate, visualise, transform and communicate data in ways that are suited to specific decision-making processes is needed.

This project will enable organisations to press maximum value from the UK’s growing portfolio of linked data assets. In particular, a suite of software components that enables diverse organisations to rapidly assemble ‘goal-oriented’ linked data applications and data processing pipelines in order to enhance their awareness and understanding of the UK’s geographic, economic and socio-cultural landscape will be developed.

A specific goal for the project will be to support comparative and multi-perspective region-based analysis of UK linked data assets (this refers to an ability to manipulate data with respect to various geographic region overlays), and as part of this activity the results of recent experimental efforts which seek to extend the kind of geo-centred regional overlays that can be used for both analytic and navigational purposes will be incorporated. The technical outcomes of this project will lead to significant improvements in the ability to exploit large-scale linked data sets for the purposes of strategic decision-making.

A presentation on the project can be found

Nigel Shadbolt talks at the Big Data World Europe conference

The conference was Europe’s first ever Big Data conference. Its aim was to inform senior marketing and IT executives about Big Data.

The conference took place on the 19th and 20th of September in London.

Professor Shadbolt’s talk was entitled “Reconnecting with your customer: how ‘Midata’ will build trust and create business value.”

He discussed the relationship between organisations and consumers, the nature of Midata and the advantages to organisations of getting involved with the Midata scheme.

Other eminent speakers included Katherine Fithen, Chief Privacy Officer at the Coca Cola Company, Michel Floyd, CTO at YouGov, Sarah Phenix, Head of the Group Privacy Programme at Barclays, and Iain Welsh, Head of Information Delivery at RBS.

Wendy Hall named one of the most influential women in I.T. in the U.K.

In Computer Weekly’s first ever list of the top 25 most influential women in I.T. in the U.K. Professor Dame Wendy Hall was placed at number 2.

The women in the list were voted for by readers of Computer Weekly and a panel of leaders from across the I.T. industry.

The reason for the publication of the list is to recognise and focus on female role models in the I.T. industry, in order to encourage more women towards careers in the area (currently less than 20% of people employed in the I.T. sector in the U.K. are female, with this figure falling to below 10% for senior/leadership roles).

Dame Wendy said: “I’m delighted and flattered to have been included in such a distinguished list and I applaud Computer Weekly for their efforts to highlight the role of women in I.T. in the U.K. which is far more significant than is often realised. Such publicity will encourage others to consider careers in an industry that is one of the most exciting and important to be in today.”