The Citizen – Negotiating Life in the Digital World

Left to Right: Jacques.Bus (Advisor, NL) Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, Prof Willie Donnelly (Vice-President Research WIT and Founder of TSSG, IRL) and Georges Metakides (prof Univ of Patras, GR)

Left to Right: Jacques.Bus (Advisor, NL) Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, Prof Willie Donnelly (Vice-President Research WIT and Founder of TSSG, IRL) and Georges Metakides (prof Univ of Patras, GR)

The Digital Enlightenment Forum 2015, was held in the Newpark Hotel on Wednesday March 25th and Thursday March 26th the forum was a unique opportunity to explore the many questions that the topic of the ‘digital citizen’ brings to mind.

As the role of technologies across communities become ever more widespread, as imagined futures are increasingly cast in terms of technological innovation and development, and, as the boundaries between the human and the digital continue to blur, a growing array of diverse actors are bringing insights, comments, positions, questions, and knowledge on where, when, in what ways, and with whom technology intersects and entwines.

Social media has brought us many benefits; for example, we can easily keep in touch with friends and family on the other side of the world. Unfortunately, we also see the downsides of its impact; cyber-bullying is becoming an issue of growing concern for parents and teachers.

We need to take ‘time-out’ in today’s society, and participate in a conversation about the challenges faced by the individual in this digital age. As technology continues to become more ubiquitous and personalised, data privacy has legitimately become an increasing concern for citizens.

Wearable technology, driverless cars and smart meters in our homes all have the potential to change how we live our lives. A key challenge for us is to ensure that regulation keeps pace with these changes.

Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection spoke at the Digital Enlightenment Forum.  He began by saying “We need to put people in control of their data by integrating privacy into our policies and practices. This approach is known as ‘Privacy by Design’ and focuses on the privacy concern of citizens from the beginning and minimises the collection of data.”

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PhD Studentship

01TSSGlogo60mmThe successful PhD applicant will join the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group and Teagasc and work at the intersection of Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analysis in distributed systems and Bioinformatics. The Internet of Things enables an increasing connectivity of everyday devices and objects. These connected devices provide us with new insights into our daily life and we rely on Big Data Analysis to extract these insights. One aim of this PhD position is to develop new learning algorithms and compression techniques that may be applied to mid-range infrared spectroscopy measurements of milk to detect the presence of different components in the sample. However, these learning protocols will have to be amenable to efficient deployment on resource constrained sensing devices, in order to meet the requirements and applications of the Internet of Things, specifically, large scale farm deployments. This PhD will also combine these techniques with Big Data Analysis to enable, for example, improved use of resources and sustainability in agri-food environments and to underpin decision support systems of the future. This PhD’s work will interface with a prototype platform which is being developed in collaboration with research teams from the disciplines of sensor and biosensor development, communication protocols and bio-informatics. The overall objective of this collaboration is to increase the environmental and economic sustainability of Irish pasture based dairy farms (The project is a collaboration between Teagasc, Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunication Software and Systems Group (TSSG), and commercial partner True North Mapping from Shannon, Co Clare. It has been awarded Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding within the Future Agri-Food research theme.) The PhD student’s major responsibility will be to pursue their own doctoral studies. The student will be expected to develop their own scientific concepts and communicate the results of their research verbally and in writing to both a national and international audience. Read More 


The Interview: Malcolm Crompton, former Privacy Commissioner of Australia


The Interview: Malcolm Crompton, former Privacy Commissioner of Australia

The aggressive march of technology and the erosion of privacy in our personal lives will ultimately be checked by people, says Malcolm Crompton, former Privacy Commissioner of Australia.

Crompton explains that exploits by individuals like Edward Snowden and others are the symptoms of a world that is in its own way beginning to say it’s had enough.

On the one extreme there are privacy rules as dictated in various regions like the EU and APEC and yet alleged abuses by groups like GCHQ and the NSA.

On the other extreme there is the sheer push of innovation by companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple requiring us to surrender up information.

“What’s being forgotten in a lot of this is human dignity, free will, respect, freedom of choice and all the other things that make us human as opposed to being automatons.”

Crompton served as Australia’s Privacy Commissioner between 1999 and 2004 and led the implementation of private sector privacy law. He is speaking tomorrow at the Digital Enlightenment Forum in Kilkenny organised by Waterford Institute of Technology. 

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WIT nominated for three KTI Impact Awards

Barry Downes, CEO of TSSG and Founder of FeedHenry, which is shortlisted in the Spin-Out Company Impact Award

Barry Downes, CEO of TSSG and Founder of FeedHenry, which is shortlisted in the Spin-Out Company Impact Award

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has been shortlisted in three of the four categories in the prestigious Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards 2015. The awards will be presented by Damien English, Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation on Wednesday, 25 March in the Hilton Hotel, Kilmainham, Dublin.

The shortlisted candidates from WIT are Dr Ramesh Raghavendra, Centre Manager of the South Eastern Materials Research Group (SEAM); spin-out company FeedHenry Ltd with Barry Downes acknowledged for his role as academic founder of the company; and Dr Felicity Kelliher, co-chair of the Research in Innovation, Knowledge, Organisations and Networks group (RIKON).

According to Prof Willie Donnelly, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at WIT, “WIT’s research capacity through its people, students, infrastructure and networks is critical to the economic development and competiveness of the South East region. The three shortlisted candidates reflect the diversity of expertise at the Institute and provide very powerful examples of how effective the Institute is in translating its know-how and technologies into high value products, services and processes.”

Knowledge Transfer Ireland presents the annual Impact Awards to recognise and showcase the success of collaborative research and the commercialisation of research resulting in the translation of knowledge and expertise beyond for the wider benefit of the economy and society.

FeedHenry Ltd is shortlisted for a Spin-Out Company Impact Award, with Barry Downes, CEO of TSSG, acknowledged for his role as academic founder of the company. FeedHenry, a spin-out of the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), was acquired by the major multinational Red Hat Inc, for €63.5m in September 2014 making it the first ICT multinational of its kind to move into the region and one of the largest spin out acquisitions in higher education.

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Silicon Republic Start-up of the week: Immersive VR Education

command-module-WIPOur start-up of the week is Immersive VR Education, a Waterford-based technology company that is planning to have a best-seller on its hands this Christmas in the form of the Apollo 11 moon landing through a VR headset.

Immersive VR Education, a tech start-up supported by Waterford Institute of Technology’s TSSG (Telecommunications Software and Systems Group has developed a VR experience that works on Oculus Rift and demos can be viewed on Mac and Windows.

“We create educational virtual reality experiences that place students in any event or allow them to relive any day in history,” said founder and CEO David Whelan.

In the last 24 hours the company surpassed a €30,000 funding target on Kickstarter, raising €36,623 from 1,407 backers.

“Imagine not just reading about how Neil Armstrong walked on the moon but experiencing this yourself first hand or being shrunk down to the size of an atom and travelling inside the human body to see how the heart functions from the inside.

“We enable this to happen using virtual reality technology that will completely immerse students in a world of our choosing and design.”

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