BCS ELITE Winter event

Thursday 16 November 2006


The event focused on the Web - key applications and their impact in the public sector, and emerging technology.

The guest speakers were:-

  • Professor Wendy Hall, Professor of Computing Science at The University of Southampton
  • Ieuan Griffiths, Director of Finance and Strategy at the DVLA
  • Adrian Hancock, Director of Policy Support and Programme Management, SOCITM (The Society for IT Managers)

With the massive proliferation of data accessible through the Internet, retrieval of information relevant to a user making a search has become an ever-increasing challenge - witness the number of irrelevant hits to a typical search using Google. The idea behind The Semantic Web includes the codification of information accessible through the Internet, in order to improve the relevance of information retrieval, and therefore to increase the efficiency of human and computing resources consumed in the process.

Wendy Hall, a past President of the BCS, was named one of six outstanding women in UK science earlier this year by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, and has also recently been awarded the 2006 Anita Borg Award honouring distinguished leaders in technology. She is currently senior vice-president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and vice-president of the US Association for Computing Machinery. She is a member of the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology and of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council.

In her presentation, Professor Hall outlined the nature of the research being undertaken by the Intelligence, Agents, and Multimedia (IAM) Research Group at the University of Southampton into the Semantic Web, and some of the early results and concepts emerging from this work.

One of the largest applications to be implemented under the Governments Direct.gov initiative is the DVLA’s on-line capability, which now allows citizens to re-license their vehicles, apply for driving licences, and subsequently maintain their driver details on-line. With over 33 million vehicles registered, and 42 million drivers in the UK, this represented a major challenge for the DVLA.

Ieuan Griffiths, as SRO for the Programme, described how this was brought about, and outlined some of the challenges that the programme posed, with some of the impacts on the DVLA and on UK citizens that have resulted.

Another major web-based initiative concerns Local Authorities, where significant progress is now being made in making services available on-line to citizens.

In his presentation, Adrian Hancock of SOCITM outlined the scope of investment and expenditure controlled by Local Authorities across the UK, and presented the results of a recent survey carried out by SOCITM into the progress made by Local Authorities in this area. He also described a few of the most important and innovative on-line applications identified by SOCITM in the course of the survey, and the impact these are having on the Local Authorities and the population where they have been implemented.

The event concluded with a Panel discussion, where Elite members attending were invited to discuss with presenters the significance of on-line services in the UK, likely future developments, and the importance of improved web technology such as the Semantic Web.

The event took place at 28 Portland Place and started at 5 p.m. (registration from 4:30 p.m.). There was a break of around 10 minutes halfway through the event, the formal part of which finished at around 7:15, followed by a buffet with drinks to allow delegates to network and to meet the presenters.

View the report from the meeting

David Rose's presentation (PDF)

David France's presentation (PDF)