FS Fives: Friday, August 5

First up, we bring you news of a new £250,000 funding programme to boost digital skills among young people across Scotland.

With a special focus on rural and disadvantaged communities, as well as to encourage more girls to take up computing, the government-funded Digital Extra initiative will support 12 national projects.

They were awarded between £715 and £48,000 each after applying for the Digital Extra fund through the Public Contracts Scotland framework.

Projects supported include one that will teach kids to programme wildlife cameras to move using Raspberry Pi computers and another that will take inspiration from the TV show CSI.

“It’s important that we encourage our children and young people to develop their digital skills from a young age,” said Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.

“Digital Xtra is giving thousands of young people opportunities to strengthen their skills in this area through their engagement in a range of innovative projects.”

Academia meets industry

The next generation of sensor systems will be discussed at a new academic meets industry day next month in a bid to solve some of the technical challenges faced by firms.

The AIM day, hosted by Edinburgh Research & Innovation(ERI), will tackle challenges posed by firms looking to harness the latest research outputs and expertise in signal processing & imaging.

The technology has a wide variety of applications across sectors such as security, manufacturing, automotive, rail and transport, aerospace and healthcare as well as the food and drink industry.

“The AIMday provides an effective and focused way for industry to meet with relevant, world-leading experts and find answers to challenges and opportunities. At the same time, AIMday is also a powerful way of developing new and productive links between industry and academia,” said Ian Sharp, ERI’s Head of Marketing and Engagement.

Big data bottleneck to be tackled

Delegates at SPE Intelligent Energy 2016 from September 6-8 at Aberdeen’s AECC will hear about a collaborative venture between academic institutions and industry partners which aims to help oil and gas operators collect and interpret surges of real-time big data generated by oilfields and plants more efficiently.

As companies seek smarter ways to handle the influx of complex data, joint industry projects (JIPs) are exploring ways of saving time, money and energy through shared goals. Optique, a four-year JIP initiated by The University of Oslo, exploits recent advances in semantic technologies, in which the meaning of data is explicitly represented as part of the data model.

The aim is to develop a software platform to provide end-users with flexible, comprehensive and timely access to large and complex industrial data sets – in processing petabytes of well data, for example – by making computers adopt the language users understand and are familiar with.

Brexit advice for CIOs

Everyone seems to have a different take on how Brexit will affect the tech sector. Here, tax and audit giant KPMG offer theirs. Offering a more upbeat take on leaving the EU, the firm’s Adam Woodhouse, Director, CIO Advisory says: “It has been a long and no doubt testing month for chief information officers as they seek to understand the implications of Brexit. For many it will pose a significant operational challenge. But for those who can lift their heads from contingency planning and take a more strategic view, it should also present opportunities.”

Among those opportunities, Woodhouse highlights, are the fact that the decreased value of the pound may make the UK a more attractive proposition for international investors and also for tech companies who can take advantage of a (relatively) cheaper labour market.

For those who have been worrying about IT governance, particularly around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into force a year before the proposed date of exit in 2019, the message is to make sure what you have is compliant with the new standard if you wish to trade with the EU.

New Head of Government Digital Service

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Ben Gummer, has announced the appointment of Kevin Cunnington as the new Head of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

With a career history including stints at Goldman Sachs and Vodafone, Cunnington most recently was Director General for Business Transformation in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Among other things at DWP, he set up the award-winning Digital Academy, training over 3,000 civil servants in digital project management.

Commenting on the appointment, the minister said: “My predecessor in the Cabinet Office, Matt Hancock, had with foresight and energy pursued an acceleration of the delivery of digital public services. I am determined to complete the work that he began.

“That is why I am confirming the appointment of Kevin Cunnington as the new, and first, Director General of the Government Digital Service. I have asked him to build on the outstanding legacy of Mike Bracken and Stephen Foreshew-Cain, to work with governments departments to continue the transformation of government services so that we can better serve the public, and to continue the global leadership in digital transformation that GDS is rightly famed for here and abroad.”

And finally…Ever wondered what might happen if countries waged cyber war on each other? Complete and utter meltdown, that’s what.

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