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Digital Futures

The Digital Futures Institute is a new research institute established at the University of Suffolk, which aims to bring together academic, entrepreneurs and industrialists to deliver impactful research and business engagement for the benefit of individual citizens, wider society and the UK economy. The University has gone through a period of capacity building with the investment in the Digitech Centre at Adastral Park, an increase in the portfolio of digital based undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and the recruitment of new academic staff who are research active and business engaged. It is developing into a vibrant hub for research and business links that complement our teaching and learning. Academics within the Institute are part of Suffolk CENTRIC in that we are a regional partner of the national Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research.

The Digital Futures Institute is based in the School of Engineering Arts Science and Technology. It has three research pillars, each consisting of distinct but coherent and related strands.

Technology Futures (Pillar 1) undertakes pure and applied research into the technologies central to the future, namely security, networks, software and systems engineering. In the Security strand, we have a PhD researcher working on the application of deep learning to network threat detection. In Networks, we are currently building a future network research laboratory at our new DigiTech Centre to enable research in this area. In the Software and Systems strand, we are research partners in the Smarter Suffolk consortium (£4.41m project funded by the Department of Transport), have an active KTP project on the topic of software quality assurance with Coderus, and two PhD researchers in software engineering.

The Smarter Suffolk project with Suffolk County Council is part of a national initiative of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport’s (ADEPT) SMART Places Live Lab, funded by the Department of Transport. The aim is to undertake a variety of scientifically rigorous trials utilising Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and through analysis of the resulting rich and large datasets of environmental, traffic and other conditions, determine the validity of the business cases and inform strategic adoption across the UK.

Creative Futures (Pillar 2) addresses the intersection of creativity and digital, with emergent strands in Serious Games, Advancing Games, and Augmented and Virtual Reality, with a growing element of research in vision science.

In Serious Games, we are currently seeking opportunities where we can apply our expertise in gamification, visualisation and simulation.

Advancing Games addresses actual improvements to gaming concepts and techniques, which may benefit both serious games and entertainment games, and a staff PhD project is underway. £20,000 of funding has been secured from Epic Games to create an ‘Epic School Days’ programme to engage secondary school pupils with the games industry. Output from this project will be shared with international educational partners by Epic Games.

The Augmented and Virtual Reality strand has already had notable success with the MySpira App, undertaken as a KTP with Orbital Media, with Innovate UK evaluating the KTP as Outstanding. The MySpira App, a revolutionary augmented reality technology asthma training app, has been successfully trialled with children via collaboration with members of the Life Science team in EAST. This initiative has received widespread plaudits, being nominated for awards and featuring on the BBC Click programme. (See https://www.allergyuk.org/get-help/resources/1001-myspira)

Application Futures (Pillar 3) is intended to support applied research through utilising computing know-how in specific domains and cross-disciplinary collaborations. It currently has two emergent themes – namely AI/Machine Learning and Usability & Practice.

In AI/Machine Learning, a cross-disciplinary Bioscience and Computing project has been initiated in partnership with East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust to support rapid diagnosis of COVID-19.

In Usability & Practice, we completed the 100CC/ConnectedTogether project (£1m InnovateUK funded project) in February 2020 supporting the SME partners in usability testing of their hardware and software solutions.  This assisted the SME partners (Bronze Software Labs and GDS Digital) in improving their software and hardware solutions aimed at combating the social isolation and lack of digital skills of elderly and vulnerable people. Consequently, both partners were able to deploy their products to support a number of local government authorities in assisting vulnerable citizens in accessing essential services during the current pandemic. In Suffolk, Bronze Software Labs deployed their TRIBE Volunteer app for Suffolk County Council as a volunteering platform to microcommission service, connecting those with needs with appropriate volunteers.

We provided additional support to Suffolk Libraries, helping them both in the preparation of their successful bid for NESTA funding and subsequent execution of their Happy Place project (a Tech To Connect Finalist project). Through EIRA funding, we have a project to support Suffolk Mind in the development of online mental health materials.

People

Technology Futures:

  • Security: Professor Nicholas Caldwell, Dr Laith Al-Jobouri, Dr James Kadirire, Dr Felix Ngobigha, Ali Hasan Alhaj, Sean Preston, Rob Wade
  • Networks: Dr Laith Al-Jobouri, Dr James Kadirire, Dr Felix Ngobigha
  • Software and Systems: Professor Nicholas Caldwell, Dr Hannah Steventon, Dr Esha Barlaskar, Dr Chris Lewington, Mark Power

Creative Futures:

  • Serious Games: Dr Adam Clayden, Steven Harris
  • Advancing Games: Steven Harris
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality: Dr Adam Clayden, Chris Janes, Nick Thomas

Application Futures:

  • AI/Machine Learning: Professor Nicholas Caldwell, Dr Esha Barlaskar, Dr Chris Lewington, Dr Federica Masieri, Dr Aida Rajic, Sean Preston
  • Usability and Practice: Professor Nicholas Caldwell, Dr Chris Lewington, Mark Power

Publications

Journals

  1. Adeyemi-Ejeye, A.O., Alreshoodi, M., Al-Jobouri, L. et al. Impact of packet loss on 4K UHD video for portable devices. Multimed Tools Appl 78, 31733–31755 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11042-019-07996-1.
  2. Atkinson, S.R., Skinner, C.J., Joiner, K.F., Caldwell, N.H.M. and Swidan, A. (2020)
    “Important trends and junctures in warship design”, Marine Systems & Ocean Technology, DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s40868-020-00076-2

Conference Papers

  1. A. S. Ajrash, R. F. Ghani and L. Al-Jobouri, "ANN based Measurement for No-Reference Video Quality of Experience Metric," 2019 11th Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CEEC), Colchester, United Kingdom, 2019, pp. 128-133, doi: 10.1109/CEEC47804.2019.8974336.
  2. R. F. Ghani, S. A. Mahmood, Y. N. Jurn and L. Al-Jobouri, "Key Frames Extraction Using Spline Curve Fitting for Online Video Summarization," 2019 11th Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CEEC), Colchester, United Kingdom, 2019, pp. 69-74, doi: 10.1109/CEEC47804.2019.8974340.
  3. K. M. Ali Alheeti, L. Al-Jobouri, D. Al-Dosary and M. S. Al-ani, "Energy Conservation Based on Destination-Sequenced Distance-Vector Protocol in Intelligent Internet of Things," 2019 11th Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CEEC), Colchester, United Kingdom, 2019, pp. 108-112, doi: 10.1109/CEEC47804.2019.8974330.
  4. A. Benmir, A. Korichi, A. Bourouis, M. Alreshoodi and L. Al-Jobouri, "An Enhanced GPSR Protocol for Vehicular Ad hoc Networks," 2019 11th Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CEEC), Colchester, United Kingdom, 2019, pp. 85-89, doi: 10.1109/CEEC47804.2019.8974321.