As GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology advances and the opportunities for individuals, business, and government to use it broadens there has never been a better time to acknowledge the opportunity and the challenge that this technology presents to Wales.
Software Alliance Wales will be celebrating worldwide GIS Day and launching GIS Day Wales with an event on 19th November in Lampeter.
The celebrations begin on Tuesday November 18th with a pre-event dinner and talk in Lampeter’s Town Hall where Ian Holt, Head of Developer Outreach at the Ordnance Survey, will be talking about his volunteer work with Map Action, who provide emergency GIS support during humanitarian disasters.
On Wednesday 19th, attendees are invited to UWTSD’s Lampeter campus for a day of talks, discussions, networking and tours; showcasing the diverse ways that businesses and academics are using GIS. The day will be a mixture of old and new as attendees will visit displays and demonstrations in the University’s Roderic Bowen Archives and the newly installed hub of Wales’ High Performance Computer network.
Professor Rod Thomas will also be providing an overview of High Performance Computing in Wales, giving attendees an insight into the state-of-the art technology, training and support available here in Lampeter. He will be officially opening the new HPC Wales workstation on the day, which offers SMEs and academics local access to Wales’ National Supercomputing Network. Attendees will learn how they can benefit from using the technology and find out how they can get access to it along with the software, training ad support required to utilise it effectively.
The day is truly set to inspire innovation in the GIS community with Ordnance Survey, QinetiQ and We Predict being just a handful of a wealth of speakers who will be sharing their expert knowledge and experience with delegates.
GIS Day Wales is open to everyone - whether you want to present, exhibit or simply attend please get in touch.
New levels of robustness, accuracy, and resilience in positioning, navigation and timing provided by the advent of multiple constellation Global Satellite Navigation Services (GNSS) offer truly transformative opportunities for many markets, both where GPS is a current feature and where not.
Funded by the EU, the Galileo constellation and associated service layers are in their testing phases prior to full operating capability, with a clear national and regional interest in finding strong market pull for Galileo’s capabilities.
QinetiQ has been involved in Galileo for many years, with world firsts in open and encrypted test signal receivers, as well as high performance GPS receivers for niche applications. QinetiQ’s principal interest is in the receiver technology itself, yet we recognise the opportunity for UK and in particular Wales to be a hub for Satellite Navigation technology, applications and services, which is where the Welsh Assembly and Software Alliance Wales’ interests join ours on what is a global stage.
What could be achieved with routine centimetre-level positioning accuracy outside and even inside buildings for instance, receiver miniaturisation into flat tags or the robustness of location logging that is resilient to interference? In order for the transformational performance offered by these new constellations and associated receivers to be fully exploited, users and developers need to think about areas where these benefits will find novel application. These could be as far and wide as fisheries monitoring, autonomous systems, disability aids, logistics, sports and leisure, law enforcement, safety – there are so many applications where the benefits of next generation GNSS will be realised by someone: your mission is to make sure it’s you!
Key performance transformations include:
10-20cm accuracy becoming routine for low cost receivers
Greater resilience to jamming, spoofing and accidental interference - an increasing problem
Strong performance in densely built up areas (urban canyons) and inside buildings, with further assistance from other complementary services
Opportunities for much smaller form factors and power requirements
High dynamics performance – very fast moving, accelerating or spinning applications
There is no question that the world will see major transformative benefits from the advent of multi-constellation GNSS services and together Wales can lead the way in novel Satnav applications.
By Mark Stead, strategy lead, at QinetiQ
On 13th October Software Alliance Wales, QinetiQ and Welsh Government hosted a joint workshop in Swansea entitled 'Next Generation Global Positioning'. The workshop addressed the major economic opportunities and challenges that are faced by this evolving technology and in particular what Wales and the UK can do to embrace these opportunities and face these challenges. If this is something you are interested then come along to GIS Day Wales in Lampeter on 19th November. To find out more and register visit http://www.softwarealliancewales.com/gis-day-wales
Microsoft has announced it’s next operating system, Windows 10, which has brought back some key features that Windows 8 removed.
The infamous Start button had been present on Windows operating systems ever since Windows 95, allowing us as users of the platform easy access to all of the features and programs on our computers. Yet, Windows 8 removed this feature, perhaps to allow easier navigation on touch screen devices. After we had all become so accustomed to a particular method of interacting, the entry point of a significant proportion of our engagements was removed.
If we consider this from a usability point of view, using Ben Shneiderman's "Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design", the removal of the Start Menu breaks the first rule of good interface design - strive for consistency. The removal of such a prominent feature led to many users struggling to use the operating system.
Consistency is a crucial concept, which allows us to interact with a wide variety of devices, systems and applications in our daily lives. Consider the symbols for play, pause and stop that we see on nearly all media devices. As they are now so universally consistent, we know immediately what will likely happen when we press one of these buttons.
When designing our own digital solutions, we should be mindful of how our creations are in fact consistent with universal expectations, as well as similar or pre-existing similar systems.
Striving for consistency is one aspect of creating usable and engaging designs, if you want to learn more on this subject try our 2 day 'Software UI & UX' workshop which covers it in detail .
Article by Tom Owen, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales
Trustmark+ helps IT business get on the right track
Swansea, UK; 11th July 2014: Accredited IT company, Tech-Wales Ltd, has doubled its revenues, increased its employees by almost 50% and won a major contract with a car-part manufacturing company in Birmingham.
The Baglan-based IT solutions provider broke into this new market after earning the CompTIA Accredit UK Trustmark+ in August 2013.
Adrian Williams, managing director, at Tech-Wales explains: “Since founding the company in 2012, we had primarily been providing IT services to local businesses but we had ambition to grow our business and break into new markets and win bigger projects, which would in turn enable us to recruit local IT talent, maintain customer service levels and build a sustainable business in Baglan.”
“Having Swansea University on our doorstep has been an invaluable business resource for us. It can be difficult to achieve differentiation in this competitive market but thanks to Software Alliance Wales and CompTIA we were able to win customers that would have previously been unobtainable. We’re now full steam ahead and excited for the future!”
Having streamlined business processes, the company has also managed to doubled its revenues and almost doubled its headcount in its second year of trading.
Mr Williams explains, “We have achieved what we wanted to and more in just two years and there is no doubt that the Trustmark+ accreditation scheme has been instrumental. We now have complete confidence that we are in a good place for this success to continue, and we look forward to winning bigger contracts and recruiting more talent.”
CompTIA offers the opportunity to earn an IT Business Trustmark and an Accredit UK Trustmark+ to UK IT companies that can demonstrate sound business best practices while providing quality IT services.
For clients and collaborators, CompTIA Trustmarks demonstrate that your IT company is committed to excellence and has pledged to follow a robust code of practice that meets or exceeds the industry standard level of service.
GiaKonda IT - Setting itself apart from the competition
GiaKonda, based in Swansea, supplies complete IT solutions to businesses across South Wales. The company is a Microsoft Certified Partner and Microsoft Office Specialist and is an approved BCS centre, providing IT training, IT support as well as supply of software and hardware.
As a small IT provider of just three people, priding themselves on providing a high-standard of IT solutions, they found themselves very busy servicing the needs of their clients to the detriment of some vital business processes, such as managing payments. The company was looking to trump competitors by gaining an industry standard that would give them the differentiation they were looking for in the market.
The company’s director, Wendy Kirkman, sought the help of Software Alliance Wales, she explains, “the team became so dedicated to delivering our services to customers that some of the back office stuff had began to slip, we knew that if we let this continue that this could end up having a detrimental impact on our operations and stunt our growth as a company. We had already done a number of training courses with the Software Alliance Wales team and were delighted when they said that they could help us streamline our business processes with a CompTIA Accredit UK Trustmark+.”
GiaKonda worked closely with Software Alliance Wales and an independent assessor to go through a comprehensive assessment of the company’s back office processes. They were then offered an improvement framework that would allow them to make gradual steps towards more flexible business processes that worked for them and their business.
“The support from Software Alliance Wales and CompTIA throughout the whole accreditation process was great. We were set realistic, achievable goals and deadlines and having a third party on board meant we had the discipline we needed to meet them.”
Upon completion GiaKonda was recommended to CompTIA by the assessor to be recognised as a ‘best in class’ IT provider and was awarded an IT Business Trustmark in 2013. The company then went on to earn an Accredit UK Trustmark+ in 2014, and is now one of an elite but growing number of accredited companies in the UK.
They are now confident that their business processes are sharp enough to cope with the day-to-day demands of running a small IT business, as well as feeling confident to take on more clients and larger projects moving forward, now that they have the competitive differentiation they were looking for:
“We now have a stringent structure in place that will allow us to operate effectively as a business and grow sustainably. We also have foundations to take on bigger projects and the confidence that our clients have faith in our capability to deliver.”
CompTIA offers the opportunity to earn an IT Business Trustmarks or Accredit UK Trustmark+, to UK IT companies that can demonstrate sound business best practices while providing quality IT services.
For clients and customers, CompTIA Trustmarks demonstrate that your IT company is committed to excellence and has pledged to follow a robust code of practice that meets or exceeds the industry standard level of service.
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 clickhere or call 01792 295881 to book an appointment with one of our Business Liaison Officers.
Swansea University Students Impress Sir Terry Matthews at Digital 2014
Swansea University computer science students have been named winners of Software Alliance Wales’ live Hackathon held at Digital 2014, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on the 9th and 10th June.
Each team gave a 2-minute pitch to their peers, conference delegates and a panel of judges that included serial high tech entrepreneur, Sir Terry Matthews, Simon Gibson of Alacrity and Wesley Clover, Adam Curtis and Matt Warren of TechHub Swansea and Software Alliance Wales’ Dr Matthew Roach and Professor Chris Price of Aberystwyth University.
The ‘live’ Hackathon took place throughout the two-days of the event and brought together students, academics, software developers and technology entrepreneurs. Their challenge was to use the state-of-the-art beacon technology to create commercially viable and innovative apps.
The winning app, Eye-Range for golfers. was developed by a team of eight soon-to-be-graduates – James Alfei, Chris Parsons, Rodrigo Rogers, Robert Fletcher, Justina Onuigbo, Ellis James, Damon Jones, and Gwion Davies.
The smartphone app would use a network of ‘beacons’ - placed on each hole of the golf course - to allow amateur, professional and celebrity golfers to benchmark their performance against that of other golfers who had previously played a round of golf, in similar weather conditions, on that course.
The app would be given free to both golf club members and visitors to encourage golfers to return to the golf course on a regular basis to improve on their personal best. The app would also allow the golf club to cross promote other activities such as alert the players to the dates of the next golfing tournament, clothing or memorabilia available from the Clubhouse or the nearest place to grab a coffee.
The competing teams included students from Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and University of South Wales. Working with Ordnance Survey, bis-zone and other software developers and tech entrepreneurs, their concepts centred on an app to navigate the London Underground and find places of interest enroute and an app for visitors to National Trust properties, arboretums and gardens.
All applications were judged on technical capability, innovative use of technology, commercial potential and implementation progress.
Swansea City Football Club and Software Alliance Wales today announce that they have completed a year-long joint app development project. The project saw the football club utilise the IT skills of three of Swansea University’s third year computer science students to develop mobile applications that would enhance fan engagement.
Last October, the football club was looking to take its fan engagement strategy to the next level by researching and developing apps that would inform and entertain fans as well as streamline with business processes. Swansea City’s commercial team heard about Software Alliance Wales’ student development projects, which match up students doing final year projects with businesses looking to enhance their IT strategies, which then offered them the skills of students Bradley Coles-Perkins, Sam Lucas, and Jon Phillips.
The projects were as follows:
Bradley Coles-Perkins created an iOS (Apple) app that would enable fans to purchase half time home and away flyers.
Sam Lucas developed an interactive quiz app for Android devices.
Jon Phillips created a mobile web app that would enable the football club to create competitions that fans could also enter via the app.
Leigh Dineen, Vice Chairman at Swansea City Football Club, said: “We are committed to investing in the local community, and this includes investment in people and skills. Software Alliance Wales and Swansea University are renowned for producing best-of-breed IT students so we were delighted to be able to utilise the enviable IT skills of three of their brightest students and at the same time give them some business experience for their CVs.”
The opportunity to solve real life IT business issues has given the students a wealth of knowledge to take with them into their career after they graduate. Student, Bradley Coles-Perkins, explains, “It’s been a great experience working with the football club. I’ve been given a lot of flexibility and autonomy which has enabled me to be creative with my project, but at the same time knowing that I have the support of the business, the university and the team at Software Alliance Wales.”
Dr. Neal Harman, Project Director for Software Alliance Wales and Head of Teaching at Swansea University said: “It’s key for Software Alliance Wales, the University and the students to work closely with business to harness and nurture skills, jobs and the economy here in Wales. Swansea City Football Club and Swansea University are such huge local institutions and it’s been a fantastic opportunity for all involved to work together on this. We are very much looking forward to working with them on other projects in the future.”
The club is now assessing how the apps can be further developed and integrated into their business systems. Mr. Dineen concludes: “These are three very strong mobile apps that are all capable of fulfilling our objective of enhancing our fan engagement strategy. We’re looking forward to attending the upcoming Project Fair in June to see what other exciting things Swansea University students have to offer us and how we may be able to further harness these locally grown skills in our business.”
Software Alliance Wales is focused on bridging the IT skills gap in Wales, from student employability to professional upskilling right through to IT company accreditation, it’s committed to technology and its role in a growing Welsh economy. Last week, all of Swansea University’s final year computer science student’s projects were showcased at Software Alliance Wales’ annual fair at TechHub Swansea in front of a wealth of local businesses looking for new IT recruits.
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.”
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.”
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.”