IT Innovation Logo

Spotlights

History of Computing book co-authored by IT Innovation researcher receives prestigious award

The Computing Universe Book Cover The Computing Universe Book CoverThe acclaimed book "The Computing Universe - a journey through a revolution" by Tony Hey, visiting Professor in the school of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University and co-authored by Gyuri Pápay a Senior Research Engineer at the IT Innovation Centre has been recognised as an 'Outstanding Academic Title' by the American Library Association (ALA) in its annual Choice Awards.

The book, described by Times Higher Education as "an eloquently presented ... and enjoyable guided tour of how the pervasive computing environment, that we now take for granted, developed" was given the award in recognition of its overall excellence, its originality, its importance as a contribution to the field and its value to students of the subject.

"... with The Computing Universe [Tony Hey] and his co-author [Gyuri Pápay] share the knowledge and history that has inspired us all" Bill Gates

This book is a must-read for anyone who is fascinated to know more about the route by which our modern computing universe arrived: the universe of computers and computing that impacts every aspect of our lives - from our social interactions to our business dealings and the very infrastructure of modern society. The Computing Universe is acclaimed as a highly enjoyable and accessible journey from the early days of computers through to the cutting edge research of the modern day that is shaping computing and our lives in the coming decades.

Dr Pápay says of his time spent working on the book with Professor Hey:

Gyuri Papay, co-author of The Computing Universe Book Gyuri Papay, co-author of The Computing Universe Book "This is a book that took seven years or more from inception to publication, building on a long-standing relationship with Tony Hey that has existed since the days of the transputer, when I supported him on his Quantum Universe book. The challenge of working on The Computing Universe was the huge range of topics involved. We tried to show the 'human face' of computing by writing about the people behind the computing revolution, yet tried to make the book fun to read, with many jokes and cartoons included so that readers would learn something new, but have a good laugh along the way.

The most enjoyable part of working on the book was the opportunity to communicate with some of the heroes of computing, such as Doug Engelbart, who invented the mouse, Ted Hoff, Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin who created the first microprocessor, Grady Booch, developer of UML and so many others, all of whom supported the book and provided illustrations and ideas that we could use.

I am pleased with this award, and hope the book will become standard reading for computer science students and others interested in the field. It is a rapidly moving and evolving historical story, and one that deserves to be better known."

The book is available from Cambridge University Press.

Igniting the FLAME on next-generation Internet ecosystems

IT Innovation is at the heart of a major collaboration, co-ordinating the newly-launched €7 million FLAME project to develop next-generation Internet ecosystems using new technology and platforms to provide flexible service delivery technologies to revolutionise personalised, interactive, mobile and localised media services.

FLAME - next-generation Internet ecosystems FLAME - next-generation Internet ecosystems The FLAME project brings together leading industrial players such as Disney, Atos, InterDigital Europe along with smart city operators in Bristol, Barcelona and beyond to carry out new urban-scale experimentation of media products and services using adaptive infrastructures.

The project's coordinator Prof Michael Boniface, Technical Director at IT Innovation, said: "FLAME provides a unique opportunity to explore the viability of new media ecosystems building on mixed reality, augmented reality and highly-localised content which can be efficiently delivered using adaptive software-defined infrastructures in urban environments.

"Multimedia will dominate the next generation of Internet systems driven by citizens increasing participation and use of pervasive technologies to have fun, learn and understand the world," Professor Boniface continued. "Success depends on establishing transformative media ecosystems that benefit everyone from consumers and content providers through to the operators of communications, transport and building infrastructures.

"Consumers are increasingly watching audio-visual content through on-demand online services delivered in individual streams, and new multimedia applications such as immersive and mobile gaming are stretching the current network infrastructure and management systems beyond their limits," he emphasised. "Our approach aims to improve experience for consumers, reduce the complexity of media service development, reduce the cost of delivering personalised on-demand content, whilst allowing infrastructure providers to become creators of digital innovation driving local socio-economic growth."

The new platform emerging from FLAME will initially be deployed in the smart-cities of Bristol and Barcelona with advanced network access points located across the cities and will later be rolled out to three further cities in Europe through a competitive open call.

Between 2018 and 2020, FLAME will invest over €2 million in a programme of open calls to grow media ecosystems in cities around Europe. The programme will allow players from the creative industries, telecommunications industries and smart cities to run trials in urban scale environments delivering new forms of experience and social interaction.

For more information, please see our FLAME project page.

Helping journalists verify online news information

In our hyper-connected world, breaking news is often first reported over social media by ordinary people who are on scene, not by professional journalists. But such news reports may not be true - there are many false stories circulating, and journalists need to be able to quickly separate truth from lies, propaganda from facts.

We have addressed these challenges in the REVEAL project, where IT Innovation have worked on Geoparsing, Geosemantics, Trust & Credibility Modelling, Decision Support System, Visualization, and Social media crawling. As part of this work, we have developed a Journalist Decision Support System (JDSS) for which we have recently launched a live online demo. We have also developed a scalable geoparsing library and a dashboard to help journalists gauge the possible bias of any resource (e.g. person or organisation) in Wikipedia.

Journalist Decision Support System - JDSS

The Journalist Decision Support System (JDSS) quickly gets journalists to the right content so they can make user generated content (UGC) verification decisions quicker. You need a Chrome browser and a Google login - then just click here to get started.

Visualization for social media map

The JDSS is a free scalable Twitter analytics platform allowing journalists to crawl Twitter for posts and find UGC relevant to verification tasks. Up to 19 journalists can use JDSS simultaneously, each interactively browsing 10,000’s of posts in real-time. Background analytics are automatically run on all posts, including sentiment analysis, fake and eyewitness media labelling and newsworthy claim extraction. Journalists can interactively explore posts, clustering and sub-clustering the data to quickly find groups of contextual posts highly related to the event or claim being verified.

Scalable Python Geoparse Library - geoparsepy

Geoparsing is the process of extracting a location from text. Services such as Google Geocoding API, OpenStreetMap Nominatim and Bing Maps API allow you to post a textual phrase and get back a likely location that matches it, along with a longitude and latitude coordinate. Our geoparsepy Python library allows you to do this locally, avoid all rate limits and use associated textual clues for more accurate location disambiguation. This means you can scale up without rate limits and accurately geoparse 100,000’s of tweets whenever you want, not just 2,500 every 24 hours as is provided by the free version of the Google Geocoding API.

Bias in Linked Open Data - BLinD

Bias in Linked Open Data (BLinD) is a free dashboard to support source bias analytics. BLinD automatically compiles Wikipedia evidence about sources so journalists can focus on making decisions about potential bias. It contains interactive visualisations to provide a quick and simple way to visually examine a bias report whilst keeping all the links back to the original evidence on Wikipedia. Data sources include DBpedia and Wikidata.

Drivers and opportunities for Internet experimentation 2018-2020

The technologies and systems that make up the present day Internet didn't arise out of a grand plan; the Internet simply evolved thanks to the many and diverse users and communities that have tried out and implemented new ideas over the years. The Next Generation Internet will be no different - it will evolve on the basis of experimentation, not forward planning.

Next Generation Experimentation Next Generation Experimentation IT Innovation is working closely with the European Commission (EC) and collaborators to understand the opportunities for research and innovation driving the Next Generation Internet (NGI).

In our recent whitepaper, we present the challenges ahead for the NGI, and provide policy recommendations to the EC for consideration within future Horizon 2020 work programmes on how open experimentation platforms can engage citizens and companies in finding solutions, activating business markets and addressing important societal challenges.

Experience tells us that the Internet evolves through widely adopted experimentation that engages active users and communities rather than through purely technological advances invented in closed laboratories. Individuals and companies use larger experiments as a way to build the knowledge and necessary insights to verify and validate theories and ideas, and as the basis for creating viable, acceptable and innovative solutions driving benefits to Internet ecosystems and their stakeholders. The whitepaper discusses the importance of experimentation in defining the Next Generation Internet, the impact that European experimental programmes, such as FIRE, have made, and identifies the challenges that must be addressed at European level to maximise the potential for Europe to deliver technological advances having global impact.

To find out more read the white paper:

"Next Generation Internet Experimentation: Drivers Transforming Next Generation Internet Research and Experimentation" Michael Boniface et al.

Underwater drones to transform marine industry risk management

Low-cost autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are to scan the ocean and gather environmental information for management of one of Europe's busiest ports using ground-breaking technology from European researchers.

The on-demand AUVs will drive intelligent data analytics to provide the Port of Leixoes, Portugal with environmental impacts in a matter of hours.

The Internet-connected AUVs will send observations to a geo-spatial environmental data fusion platform that prepares data for marine risk analysis allowing for rapid response impact analysis. The trial is conducted as part of research by the European Commission funded SUNRISE EXPOSURES project.

SUNRISE AUVs in EXPOSURES

The project's technical lead Michael Boniface, Technical Director at the IT Innovation Centre, said: "Marine industry stakeholders will collaborate to create a new data value chain that builds on low-cost drones and advanced data analytics to seamlessly connect surveyors, marine analysts and authorities. These drones are small enough to be launched by one person and cost less than 100,000 Euros allowing them to be preconfigured for marine applications, such as scour and sediment transport analysis.

"By combining the drones with Internet connectivity, geospatial data fusion, and linked data access, marine analysts will have the information they need for assessing threats such as marine accidents, extreme weather events and periodic degradation."

This revolutionary technology will create opportunity to address many challenges faced by industry operating in the blue economy. From port operations to marine aquaculture and offshore windfarms, the SUNRISE EXPOSURES provides industry with ways to transform risks management for maintenance, crisis and regulatory compliance. Jonathan Williams, CEO of Marine Southeast

To ensure the technology is developed to full effect, the consortium runs an EXPOSURES 'Interest Group' where potential end-users and other interested parties from the marine industry, government agencies and scientific community are able to learn more about the project. To join the group, please visit www.groupspaces.com/EXPOSURES/ and click on the green 'Join' button.

To learn more, visit the EXPOSURES project page.

Safer crowd evacuation from confined spaces with advanced situation awareness

What if the unthinkable happens? You are in a confined space with tens of thousands of people during an event and you need to evacuate. Research and technologies are being developed at IT Innovation to help you get to safety.

In December 2015, IT Innovation went to the Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian, Spain, to run carefully designed scenario experiments to record crowd behaviour during evacuation. With a capacity of over 30,000 people, the Anoeta stadium hosts football matches, athletic sporting events and non-sporting events such as concerts.

Image of people at football stadium - Credit: John Illingworth Image of people at football stadium - Credit: John Illingworth Being able to evacuate people safely and quickly is of paramount importance to the security managers of the stadium. The safe evacuation of a crowd is challenging. It requires continuous knowledge of crowd behaviour in real-time and context information about the various spaces evacuees occupy. As result, IT Innovation is conducting research on the automated detection of crowd behaviour in confined spaces using computer vision, statistical mechanics concepts and knowledge models. This will revolutionise current crowd evacuation methods and strategies around the world since it will improve the management of crowds in real-time with advanced situation awareness and rapid response to critical events by security agencies.

IT Innovation led the development of the experiment together with partners in the eVACUATE project. This included the management and video recording of evacuation drills, which provided valuable source of information for further research to be conducted on crowd behaviour during evacuation. The available data on crowd in the public domain is usually incomplete and lack important information for labelling data prior to training computer vision tools. Notwithstanding the lack of information about the confined space in which the video scenes have been generated. Hence, the focus is on experimenting on good knowledge about the geometric details of the confined spaces, camera calibrations and context knowledge about how individuals or groups of individuals could potentially influence the spread of behaviour within the crowd for a given situation. The resulting labelled video dataset which we generated is being used to develop and test our new computer vision techniques for automatically detecting and interpreting groups’ motions and behaviours. The generated experimental dataset on crowd behaviour and their safer evacuation from confined spaces is of paramount importance for advancing the state of the art in human behaviour detection.

The eVACUATE project team, Drs Zoheir Sabeur, Banafshe Arbab-Zavar, Lee Middleton and Gianluca Correndo, who contributed in the development of the experiment said:

We carefully designed experiments to create and record complex crowd behaviour in different evacuation scenarios. It was essential that people participating in the experiment would behave as close to how they would in a real evacuation scenario. People received information about their default behaviour and we gave certain individuals a description of roles to play, to enact various scenarios, such as leaving an object down the exit space, moving against or even obstructing the flow of the crowd.

The technologies that is being developed at IT Innovation will help operational and security staff at venues such as the Anoeta football stadium make more advanced critical decisions about the safe evacuation of people. The machine detection of crowd behaviour with added value context information and reasoning modules will be integrated into a decision support system developed in the eVACUATE project, together with real-time optimisation on crowd evacuation routes.

We are focusing on detecting unusual behaviour, which can be flagged as alerts to the operational staff at the venue to help them more effectively and efficiently facilitate the evacuations. Zlatko Zlatev, project manager at IT Innovation for the eVACUATE project

The Anoeta stadium is one of four pilots in the eVACUATE project. The three other pilots include an international airport, cruise ship and a metro station. Our next development will be focussed on validating our approach for detecting crowd behaviour with advanced context knowledge on all four confined spaces by the end of the project in April 2017.

To learn more, visit the eVACUATE project page.

Verifying social media for journalists @ ICT 2015

Content from social media sites are becoming an important part of modern journalism to find both news and background information. However, journalists have to contend with vast quantities of data which is perturbed with hoaxes, rumours and deliberately misleading information. IT Innovation went to ICT 2015 to demonstrate technologies that allows journalists to quickly verify suspicious content.

Image of BBC trending story about fake Syria video Image of BBC trending story about fake Syria video Amateur on the spot incident reports and eyewitness images and videos are of particular importance to real-time breaking news. With breaking news having tight reporting deadlines, measured in minutes not days, the need to quickly verify suspicious content is paramount.

IT Innovation have developed a decision support system in the REVEAL project that allows journalists to visualise large volumes of social media content in order to find evidence for news verification. A prototype was demonstrated at ICT 2015 based on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube data from the 1st day of the UK election 2015 and the day of the Scottish leaders debate and #edgestone being unveiled.

At the core of the system is a knowledge-based trust and credibility model. Natural language processing extracts claims, source attribution and geosemantic contexts for cross-checking facts. Running on an Apache Storm cluster, the software is highly scalable, supporting real-time changes in the data.

IT Innovation goes to Las Vegas

DAVID Logo

Digital archives are gambling with the future of the content in their care. IT Innovation headed to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas in April to demonstrate technology that allows broadcasters and archivists to identify and manage the threats they face to the long-term preservation of digital audio-visual content in their care.

The NAB Show in Las Vegas is the largest and most prestigious exhibition for the media production industry in the world. We were there in the NAB Labs Futures Park (booth N9629) showcasing our technology for managing the threats to long-term preservation of digital audio-visual (AV) content. Risks to AV content arise from format obsolescence, media degradation and failures in the very people, processes and systems designed to keep the content safe and accessible. We showcased software that can analyse preservation workflows, suggest risks that may be present and model the cost of those risks both in terms of loss of content and of money.

DAVID at NAB

BPRisk Web Application

IT Innovation have developed a Business Process Risk management framework (BPRisk) in the DAVID project that allows users to plan and manage workflow processes with regards to risk. These are risks that threaten long-term preservation of digital AV content. By managing the risks we avoid damage and ensure that our cultural heritage is preserved and accessible for the long term.

BPRisk enables users to effectively manage risks in their preservation workflows. Risk management is key to preventing long-term issues such as format compatibility, which cannot be mitigated by common strategies such as file replication. The software draws upon a database of known risks from the AV preservation domain to assist the users in specifying risks for their preservation workflows. Moreover, BPRisk enables the simulation of workflow executions to aid the workflow design for reducing the cost and increasing the value of long-term preservation of the digital content.

To find out more, visit the DAVID project page for more info.

IT Innovation technology launches the world’s first real-time mixed reality ski race

3D Live Logo

A professional skier battled against two online gamers in the world’s first interactive mixed reality downhill ski competition using technology pioneered by the University of Southampton IT Innovation Centre.

Hitting speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour, the top class skier hurtled down the world cup ski course in Schladming, Austria, in a bid to reach the finish line before his two competitors – virtual reality gamers based in Thessaloniki, in Greece, and Munich, in Germany.

The two day, four race event was broadcast live from the Wearable Technologies Conference, in Munich, at the beginning of February.

Despite the skier on the real slope picking up an early win in the first race, the two online gamers went on to battle back and win the successive races, with the racer in Greece gaining the lead and finishing with the best overall time of 10:01:

3D Live result

The racers used a 3D tele-immersion platform and wore new virtual reality technology that allowed them to compete against each other by racing down the same ski slope at the same time. The competition was the culmination of research by the European Commission funded 3D LIVE project.

The project’s technical lead, Michael Boniface, Technical Director at the University of Southampton IT Innovation Centre, UK said: “The race was a huge success and demonstrated that mixed reality can deliver unique and truly exciting experiences.

“The competitors interacted in real-time, sharing their experience in a 3D virtual environment delivered over the Internet to wearable immersive devices. The professional skier wore Smart Ski Goggles with a heads up display that allowed him to see the virtual world alongside the real slope. The indoor competitors were fully immersed in a virtual world using Oculus Rift. By using advanced sensor and gaming technologies to create and manipulate 3D information in real-time, the 3DLive platform delivered truly interactive experiences closely linked to real world activities.”

“Mixed reality can deliver experiences that have never happened before for people online and people on location. We envisage opportunities for new types of live games that combine digital and real interaction in many different competitive sports but also serious applications. For example, if you are watching a live sports event at home, maybe a championship ski race, you can actually compete against the real pros”.

Watch us on BBC News and BBC Click.

Watch the Racing on Youtube:


Arkivum - Assured Archiving

Arkivum Logo

Arkivum is an IT Innovation spin-off company providing cost-effective highly secure and easy to use archiving. It provides the only digital archiving service underwritten by a 100% data integrity guarantee, fully backed by professional indemnity insurance, keeping data safe and secure – forever.

Arkivum’s Archive as a Service is based on groundbreaking digital archive management technology developed by IT Innovation in the AVATAR-m project.

To learn more, visit the Arkivum website.

MUPPITS - Managing media production and post-production workflows

MUPPITS Logo

The media production and post-production industries face a real challenge – how to manage a vast range of digital content and the processes that must be applied to turn it from disconnected clips into a coherent media product. IT Innovation provided the solution in the form of management middleware developed over a number of years and applied to industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, aeronautics and automotive design.

MUPPITS is a good, reliable management system that will deliver what producers require – fast access to digital content for everyone who needs it and secure archiving of the content. Paul Kafno, Park Pictures

Read more about how MUPPITS is supporting the media industry in this University of Southampton business case study.

SANY - A collaboration between SolData and the IT Innovation Centre

SANY Logo

Building new metro systems and urban road and rail links often involves tunnelling under heavily built up areas, where it is vital that any resulting ground displacement is detected as early as possible. IT Innovation has worked with high-performance measurement company SolData to improve the interpretation and decision management supported by ground displacement sensor networks. We developed a generic sensor fusion software framework that works with OGC compliant sensor measurement databases descriptions; SolData are now looking to use this to simplify adding new processing capability to the SolData monitoring system and lower the cost to integration with third party sensor measurement database services.

The systematic use of fusion and models in SolData monitoring system would not only allow the users to get richer information, but would also constitute an enhanced early warning system, and ease the analysis of monitoring data. In SolData line of business, fusion would benefit to all its users and stakeholders. Gabriel Garcia, Group Director of Research & Development, SolData

To learn more about how our sensor fusion framework has helped SolData, see this University of Southampton business case study.