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Spotlights

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.