What's On


Quick and Dirty Historic GIS


With less than a month to go to the 2015 Digital Past conference, Jemma Bezant of Software Alliance Wales is putting together the ‘Quick and Dirty Historic GIS’ workshop that will demonstrate how to access historic/humanities map data and georeference that to a GIS. Access to historic data will be explained, ranging from manuscript map material (using manuscript material from the Roderic Bowen Library and Archive collection based at the Lampeter Campus of the University of Wales trinity Saint David), digital historic mapping, OS data, census data and historic rentals. It will explain map projections and how to georeference a map onto a geographic spatial database.

Dr Bezant is an archaeologist working with GIS to produce historic landscape reconstruction using manuscript material as well as good old fashioned archaeological landscape survey and excavation. She is co-Director of the Strata Florida Research Project that embraces Digital Humanities as a key way into technologies for archaeologists, historians as well as commercial practitioners.

Software Alliance Wales are proud to be sponsoring the Digital Past 2015 conference.  To regsiter to attend the event, visit the official website.

Historic Land use at Henfynachlog Farm using terrain modelling and 18th century estate mapping

Figure 1 Historic Land use at Henfynachlog Farm using terrain modelling and 18th century estate mapping


Help Create a Machine Vision of the Future


The 26th British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC) will take place in Swansea University (Singleton campus), 7-11 September, 2015. The British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC) is one of the largest international conferences in computer vision and related areas, and is organised annually by the British Machine Vision Association (BMVA).

The 2015 event will be hosted by Swansea University from 7th to 11th September, will be a high-quality single-track conference composed of both oral presentations and poster sessions, as well as two keynote presentations, one conference tutorial, and a PhD student workshop. The conference covers a wide range of topics in Machine Vision research, such as statistics and machine learning for vision, face and gesture recognition, video analysis, and so on.

The deadline for paper submission is 24 April, 2015, and the early registration is due on 24 July, 2015. The Swansea University Singleton Campus is set in a rolling parkland overlooking the majestic sweep of Swansea Bay, the start of the famously dramatic Gower coastline comprised of twenty-one bays and coves. BMVC regularly attracts about 200 vision researchers and engineers from around the world, which provides an excellent platform for global networking, advertisement and recruitment in vision engineering. If you are interested in sponsoring the conference.

For more information, please visit the conference website. You can also follow the conference on twitter @bmvc2015

Article by Feng Zhao, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales

Email: f.zhao@softwarealliancewales.com


SAW & Ordnance Survey - GeoVation Challenge


SAW partners with Ordnance Survey to host GeoVation Challenge Masterclass

On 16th October Software Alliance Wales will host a free GeoVation Challenge Masterclass at TechHub in Swansea.

The challenge, organised by Ordnance Survey in conjunction with Land Registry, is asking for people to combine the use of geography, technology and design skills to come up with solutions to address the challenge in hand which is ‘How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?’. The most compelling solutions will be offered the opportunity to win a share of £101,000 of funding to bring the solution to reality.

What will happen at the masterclass?

The masterclasses combine theory and practical sessions, giving users the chance to use open datasets from Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Government open data. Attendees can expect to follow the journey of downloading the data, importing it into open source software and mashing with other open datasets to provide analysis that addresses the following two GeoVation housing issue themes that are featured within the GeoVation Pow Wow output: Affordability and Accessibility and infrastructure.

Should I attend the masterclass?

This class is ideal for those new to working with location data or anyone wishing to brush up on their skills and the overriding goal of the session is to identify where affordable housing is accessible in areas of lower deprivation for the average household.

Open to anyone, whether entering the GeoVation Challenge or just wanting to develop their skills generally, the sessions run from 9.30 am until 4.00pm. There are up to 40 places at each session. 

Sign up for your FREE place today - https://odmc-swansea.eventbrite.co.uk



Improve Your Business With CompTIA


Software Alliance Wales is partnered with CompTIA to deliver its Trustmark programme, the IT Business Trustmark and the Accredit UK Trustmark+, across Wales - an accreditation programme designed especially for the technology industry. Over the coming months they will be jointly delivering a series of workshops and webinars designed specifically for technology businesses across Wales and you're invited to join and learn more about how you improve your IT business with us.

When running an IT business it can be hard to keep all your balls in the air - it’s easy to let day-to-day business practices slip as you concentrate your efforts on delivering services to customers. At the ‘Enhance and Improve your IT Business’ workshop and webinars, you will be offered the opportunity to learn new ways in which they can improve your business processes to ensure a more sustainable IT business. At the workshops, in the afternoon session, there will be an opportunity for you to book a one-to-one with an authorised CompTIA assessor where they can validate your business to ensure you have the fundamental processes in place to be awarded the CompTIA IT Business Trustmark, and premium CompTIA membership.


What can I learn at a workshop/webinar?

Gain best practice advice from an experienced IT business consultant and take part in a workshop/webinar with CompTIA, one of the world’s largest non-profit IT trade associations, which will address the following key points…

  • Evolving technology landscape - shifting from product sales and break-fix to more virtual products and services.
  • Changing customer requirements - customers have more options than ever to fulfil their technology needs, so there is a clear imperative for tech companies to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
  • Self reflection - as companies begin to think about new ways of doing business, they also need to take a hard look at what they are doing right now.
  • Streamlining business processes - stopping margin decline requires a strong handle on operational and process efficiencies.
  • Learn more about the CompTIA Trustmark programme - discover how an Accredit UK Trustmark+ or an IT Business Trustmark could improve your business.
  • Work towards achieving an IT Business Trustmark - at the workshops, the afternoon session, you will be offered the opportunity to book in a one-to-one session with a CompTIA assessor, if successful you will subsequently be awarded the CompTIA IT Business Trustmark accreditation.

What others have to say about the workshops…

‘A really useful day - lots if tips on managing your IT business successfully and as Angus has suggested simply going through the steps in gaining the accreditation provides confidence in the structure of the business and processes in place. As a freelance Project Manager it would certainly give me confidence to work with and recommend IT development companies and web agencies that have this merit in place.’ - Emma Lewis, Freelance Project Manager

It’s worth going through the process… and helps you structure your business properly so you have a better business. Certainly helped us and now hoping to move to ISO.’ - Angus Findlay - Founder, Web Adept

Register for your nearest workshop or a webinar by clicking here.

For more information about the CompTIA IT Business Trustmark click here or call 01792 295881 to book an appointment with one of our Business Liaison Officers.



UK Channel Community


Meeting Highlights the Importance of Gold Medal Customer Service

Too often, companies see customers as another distraction from work, but it’s actually happy customers who require less work and offer a better bottom line, according to Richard Beevers of Customer Plus, one of three independent speakers who presented at the CompTIA UK Channel Community Meeting in Coventry in June.

Happy customers are loyal customers and loyal customers are less expensive to serve, will recommend and will pay a premium, according to Beevers, speaking to members of the more than 100 delegates who descended on the Ricoh Arena for the meeting. “Managing Toward Business Excellence” was the theme for the day, and the speakers touched on the areas of business excellence that every company can start improving immediately: team excellence, operational excellence and customer service -excellence. An in-depth account of the UKCC meeting is available here.

So why aren’t all our customers happy already?

Although fantastic customer service is not theoretically difficult, it is difficult to do in practice. Great customer service means different things to different people, he said, and the key is to be in tune with your customer. Don’t treat people how you want to be treated — find out how they want to be treated and treat them that way.

Customer focus needs to be everyone’s priority, the whole way through the company. After all, who would want to fly on a plane when the baggage handlers, refuelling engineers and air traffic controllers don’t care about you as a customer? Beevers also argued that companies should seek out complaints through regular surveys. This will lead to more complaints, not because a company is worse but because you are seeking them out — and a high proportion of complaints aren’t reported acheter inderal. A lot of our work in IT is about dealing with complaints and queries, so addressing them and dealing with them brilliantly will make you stand out to your customers over the competition.

Another key takeaway: A lot of the work in IT is about dealing with complaints and queries, so addressing them and dealing with them brilliantly will make you stand out to your customers over the competition. 

CompTIA offers community meetings to help better connect with its members and learn what they want to hear the most. At Coventry, for example, members voted — and the results are being tabulated — on the next piece of research that they would like CompTIA to conduct. Exercises like these are an attempt to better understand what trends members want to know about.

For more on June’s CompTIA UK Channel Community Meeting, click here. The document includes insight from keynote speaker Tracy Westall of Specialist Computer Centres Ltd., and learn from Paul Tomlinson of Mirus IT, why making the team the heart of your business can be a key to success.

“We had 120 people sign up for this event, and it was the first time that we’ve had to use a waiting list for any CompTIA event, showing how valuable community meetings are for our UK members,” said Vaughan Shayler, CompTIA’s director of channel strategy. “CompTIA would like to thank everyone who joined us on the 17th and 18th June to share experiences, expertise and help us work towards a brighter future of IT.

Michelle Peterson is a communications specialist for CompTIA.

The CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference will be held at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London on the 5th and 6th November 2014. If your IT company is based in Wales, and you would like to attend this event, please give Software Alliance Wales a call on 01792 295881 and we'll confirm the promotional code you should use when you register here.

To find out more about the CompTIA UK Trustmark Programme, and the support available from Software Alliance Wales, click here

For a comprehensive list of the Software Alliance Wales courses and workshops available this year, take a look at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please signup up to our fortnightly mailshot.


Challenge eHealth Innovation Awards


Are you a clinician, software developer, student, researcher, academic or entrepreneur? Are you interested in collaborating and creating new innovative ehealth solutions?

Then the ‘Challenge eHealth Innovation Awards’ are for you.  

The event, sponsored by the Welsh Government, offers SMEs, clinicians, healthcare workers, students, researchers and academics from Wales, Dundee and Greenwich London a unique opportunity to work together to create new and innovative digital solutions.

The event calls on delegates to team up to innovate new eHealth concepts and solutions to empower patients and healthcare professionals.

Each team will be encouraged to brainstorm ideas in categories which include: mHealth (mobile health), Well-being & Lifestyle, Clinical Information Systems & Data and Telemedicine & Homecare.

The winning team will scoop £5,000 prize money to further develop their eHealth idea.  In addition they will also receive mentor support to the value of £3,000 (covering areas such as finance, funding, IP and marketing). 
To apply, download an ‘expression Of interest form’ for the Welsh Node based at Swansea University. 


Dates for the diary:

Expressions of Interest Closes: 18th July 2014 - places are limited so submit early to avoid disappointment

Idea Generation Workshop: 17th September – brainstorming, idea creation and team formation.  

Project Development Day: 24th September - teams will hone their concepts, build their implementation plans and work on their pitches.

Pitches to the Judging Panel: 8th October -  a representative from each team will pitch to a judging panel made up of eHealth experts. 

This 'Challenge eHealth Innovation Awards' is organised by the Welsh Node of the National Virtual Incubator (NVI) at Swansea University’s eHealth Industries Innovation Centre (ehi²).

For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a look at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please signup up to our fortnightly mailshot.



Digital Democracy – Alive to Engagement


In late 2013, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Brecow, launched a commission on “Digital Democracy.” The commission will allow people from any background to provide input into how they believe technology can promote greater relationships between Parliament, Government and the public. 

As part of the commission, several events are being held in order to allow groups of individuals to discuss, share and shape ideas about how technology can assist in this aim. It’s a great chance for the everyone to have direct input into the potential plans that our Government may one day take.

Swansea University is organising one of the workshops in Cardiff on the 21st of July. The event, “Digital Democracy – Alive to Engagement” aims to bring together a stimulating mix of academics, SMEs, civil servants and other interested parties. The day will consist of motivating talks by experts, demonstrations of digital solutions and group discussions.

The event will be a great chance to engage with like-minded people and contribute to the results that the Speaker’s Commission will report back to Parliament. If you would like to take part in the event, register your interest using our contact form.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Tom Owen.

For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a look at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please signup up to our fortnightly mailshot.



Computer Science in Action


On Thursday 5 June 2014, Swansea University led projects, Software Alliance Wales, Technocamps and Swansea University's Computer Science Department, opened their doors to business at the Computer Science in Action: Student Project Demonstration Fair.

The event, held at TechHub Swansea, offered 'soon-to-be' graduates the opportunity to showcase their computer science skills to prospective employers in Wales.

Over the course of the afternoon, Swansea University computer science students, benefited from an inspirational careers talk from Aimee Bateman of careercake.com, whilst also having the opportunity to network and interact with prospective employers during the exhibition later in the evening.

Attendees at the event - ranging from students, academics and industry representatives – each had the opportunity to vote for the ‘Best Student Project’. Resulting in, three ‘soon-to-be’ graduates, being recognised for their hard work, throughout their academic studies.

Winner of best student project as voted by school students:

Kieron Jewell for Who's Watching Me? The Little Brother Concept

Winner of best student project as voted by the IT industry:

Ryan Wong for Visual Assessment Boundaries

Winner of best student project as voted by the academic assessors:

Matthew Poskitt for OSMOSIS: A Leap Motion Java Game

There was a great atmosphere in TechHub Swansea with both businesses and students taking advantage of the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise.


Here’s what some of the local employers – DVLA and IntaPeople - had to say:


For a full selection of images taken at the event click here.

For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a look at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please signup up to our fortnightly mailshot.




Really Useful Computer Knowledge: RUCK workshops to upskill UK’s software development industry

Software Alliance Wales will deliver a smorgasbord of workshops on the 25th and 26th June at Aberystwyth University; providing a forum for developers and company owners to talk tech while gaining practical knowledge and skills to build strong and sustainable IT-based businesses. Across the two days there will be an array of speakers delivering tutorials developed specifically for the UK software development community.

Professor Chris Price, event organiser and head of computer science teaching at Aberystwyth University said, “Software Alliance Wales’ boasts a wealth of experience in developing and delivering training courses for the community of developers committed to maintaining their highly valued skills.

“The RUCK workshops will build on this success by bringing it all together into one neatly-packaged event with practical tutorials delivered by experts with an insatiable passion for skills transfer and all things tech.”

Web programmers interested in learning Javascript are well catered for; with a half-day session for beginners and a follow-on session for experienced JS programmers interested in using HTML5 for games or business-focused applications. There is also a full day tutorial for programmers who want to take advantage of the significant and growing commercial opportunities in the Arduino and smartphone arena.

Developers will learn to develop for mobile web, to design better websites, and how to improve the look and feel of advertising-led ‘landing pages’. And professional photographer, John Gilbey, will give advice on how to take great photos.

Another workshop will focus on the practical issues around information and network security, what company owners need to consider, and what actions staff need to take to secure the assets of the business. While other tutorials focus on the use of SourceTool and Git to set-up version control and store multiple projects, how to set-up and use automated testing tools, affordable usability testing, and one-click product building.

For those who want to learn how to market their IT business or software application, a half-day session – led by tech marketing practitioner, Bethan Lauder – will outline the practical steps that the tech savvy audience should follow and the key tools and techniques used when developing and implementing effective PR and marketing plans.

Professor Price, concluded: “The RUCK workshops, in the seaside town of Aberystwyth, are a great way for software developers to get together with collaborators - and other like-minded people - to learn practical skills in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

“At the end of the 2-days, attendees will be equipped with skills and knowledge that they can apply as soon as they return to the office.”

The Really Useful Computer Knowledge (RUCK) event will be held at Aberystyth University on 25th and 26th June 2014. To register, visit: www.ruckworkshops.com

For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a look at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please signup up to our fortnightly mailshot.





LIVE Hackathon at Digital 2014


Hackers to go head-to-head to win the Software Alliance Wales 'live' Hackathon Challenge

On the 9th and 10th of June 2014, over one thousand delegates attending the Digital 2014 conference, at the Celtic Manor Newport, will have the opportunity to ‘drop-in’ on a ‘live’ Hackathon organised by Software Alliance Wales. The Hackathon will bring together computer science students, software developers and technology entrepreneurs to create commercially viable and innovative concepts based on state-of-the-art beacon technology.

Professor Chris Price, Software Alliance Wales tech expert and Head of Computer Science Teaching at Aberystwyth University, commented, “The Hackathon is a great way for like-minded people to work together on the development of apps that address real-world business challenges. Over the course of just 2-days, we will see individuals coming together to work as a team; to share knowledge, experience, and expertise; learn new skills; build great apps and … have fun along the way!”

The location-based technology, for iOS (Apple) and Android devices, offers organisations in the retail, leisure, culture and heritage sectors opportunities to improve the customer experience of new and existing services.

Mayfly Tech and Ordnance Survey are among the companies and organisations signed-up to put their skills to the test. They will be joined by tech experts from Software Alliance Wales and students and academics from the five university partners: Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Swansea University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of South Wales.

At the start of the challenge, the individual ‘hackers’ will be placed in teams of five before being given a tutorial on the beacons technology. Each team will then work together to develop a product, service or concept during the event.

Frances and Benjamin Jenkins, Taffs Well Music Studio, explained their motivation for taking part in their first Hackathon, “We would very much like to take our music tuition business online in the most intelligent way and are looking forward to meeting collaborators and innovators at the Software Alliance Wales ‘Live’ Hackathon who can help us realise those plans.”

Ross Blytt Jordans of Thunderhat.org added, “I signed-up to the Software Alliance Wales ‘Live’ Hackathon to meet my peers and develop my skills in team built app development and design.”

An indoor network of beacons – small wireless transmitters - will be set-up within the Convention Centre to allow the hackers to test their concepts before they ‘pitch’ their idea to their peers, conference delegates, and a panel of judges at the of the second day. This is a crucial step in the development process as many apps fail inside buildings due to the lack of GPS coverage.

Once set-up, the beacons will continuously broadcast a Bluetooth signal to form an indoor positioning, proximity detection ad customer interaction system. In a real-life setting, the network could be scaled up to more than 10,000 beacons. 

Conference delegates will be encouraged to ‘sit-in’ throughout the Hackathon or to ‘dip in and out’ at key times, including 1.15pm on Tuesday 10th June when Software Alliance Wales’ Dr Matt Roach will give the Hackers tips on how to ‘pitch’ an idea in 2 minutes.

Later in the day, at 4pm, each team will then deliver their ‘pitch’ to a panel of independent judges, including TechHub Swansea founders, Matt Warren and Adam Curtis. Novelty trophies will be awarded to the hackers who have ‘stood out from the crowd’ and the winning team will be announced to conference delegates during the closing session of the Welsh Government’s flagship ICT conference.

Dr Neal Harman, Software Alliance Wales Project Director and Head of Computer Science Teaching at Swansea University commented, “We have a thriving creative software community in Wales and a growing demand from tech savvy companies for their highly valued skills. The Software Alliance Wales ‘Live’ Hackathon Challenge, led by Professor Chris Price, is a fantastic opportunity to showcase these skills to employers and clients alike.”


For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a loot at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please sign up to our fortnightly mailshot.