Feature

BCS Awards demonstrate dedication

Two personal projects were among the three winners of BCS IT Awards in the scheme's 30th year

Martin Lambert developed the winning product from SealedMedia in his bedroom in his spare time. He is now chief technology officer of the company, which has had three rounds of US and UK funding for a product which stops individual documents being read by unauthorised people.

Files in formats ranging from Word to Excel for spreadsheets, jpeg for pictures and mpeg for sound are encrypted. Recipients use a small piece of software to unscramble a file, and a key, which a user may need to update periodically from the document owner's server.

This means only authorised recipients can see a document, and it is no use to other people they might send it on to.

The system can allow different access rights, for example reading and amending but not copy-pasting or printing. Time limits can be set for access.

"The most popular initial application has been protecting boardroom documents," Lambert says. "The Xansa IT services group is using it to protect access to its project methodology."

Diagnosis Web site
For Jason Maude the BCS IT Award was a tribute to his dedication in setting up a medical diagnosis support system after his daughter, Isabel, nearly died at the age of three when doctors failed to recognise complications of chicken pox.

His family could gave sued the health authority after it admitted the mistake but instead it concentrated on forming the Isabel Medical Charity. He gave up his stockbroking job to devote himself to it.

The charity has set up a Web site which enables doctors to enter symptoms and get diagnosis suggestions. They can click from these to sections of medical books, case studies, and the experiences and research of other doctors.

"An information sheet about Isabel's complication was right there in the ward, but no one knew," Maude says.

The service already has 7,000 registered users. In trials it has produced the right diagnosis in 99% of cases. In one in eight cases doctors have said that only by consulting the service have they been able to make significant progress.

The service is run by just two full-time staff; all the other work has been done by Maude and by doctors in their own time. Maude is only now returning to stockbroking. Isabel is a "happy healthy seven-year-old, although physically scarred for life", he says.

Education through drama
A system enabling students to direct and animate Shakespeare plays, develop stories around bullying and drugs, explore science through the eyes of Darwin and Newton, and take the role of a French waiter to learn language won a BCS IT Award for Immersive Education.

The company was born out of research by Oxford University's Department of Educational Studies, Intel, and some games companies.

Its Kar2ouche system provides three-dimensional backdrops, characters and sounds, and students can scan in their own pictures. Different poses can be attached to characters and animation is possible.

"The aim is to unlock children's creativity through information and communications technology," says chief executive Chris Lloyd.

"Kar2ouche provides highly visual environments that students can control themselves, allowing them to live inside their subjects and learn through exploration and discovery."

About 800 schools have taken the system in the first year.

The three award winners were chosen during a judging day from nine finalist medal winners, which had been whittled down from 68 entries through a process involving site visits.

The BCS Awards were sponsored by British Telecom, the Department of Trade & Industry, IBM, KnowledgePool, Logica, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Royal Mail, Shopcreator and Text 100.

The BCS ITAwards' winners and finalists
In addition to the BCS IT Award winners Martin Lambert of SealedMedia, Jason Maude from the Isabel Medical Charity and Immersive Education's Kar2ouche system, the other finalists were:

  • Dundee University with a touchscreen system enabling intensive care patients to communicate with medical staff and relatives
  • Hull University with a CD version of the Domesday Book which can be searched and displayed with a translation, maps and other information
  • Fluency Voice Technology produced a Java and VoiceXML system for developing recognition components and applications, plus a programmable call routing device
  • Graham Technology with a system for developing, automating and modifying business processes
  • IBM with its Websphere MQ Event Broker for handling message switching between different protocols
  • Preventon Technologies with software which ensures users only run authorised PC products.

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This was first published in November 2002

 

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