The biggest splash in this year's Technology Awards was made by an application developed to cut the number of lives lost in Britain's dangerous waters
The Technology categories of the BCS IT Professional Awards are always interesting because the medal winners in the four sub-categories also compete with each other for the overall BT Innovation Flagship Award for Technology. The four sub-categories are: Applications, Services, Systems, and the Computer Software Group sponsored Social Contribution.
"Innovation should happen at the speed of life, which means there should never be a gap between what is technically possible and what we deliver in the markets we serve," says Matt Bross, chief technology officer at BT. "For the ongoing development of the industry, it is vital that companies look at how, and not just what, they innovate. This will deliver real value in the long term."
The 2006 sub-category winners were Active Web Solutions, StartHere, Trexy.com and Visual Planet for the Systems, Social Contribution, Services and Applications awards respectively.
StartHere is a not for profit organisation that seeks to help individuals locate the voluntary support available to them across a wide range of issues. Initially a touchscreen on kiosks, the service has subsequently been developed so that it can be accessed across digital TV, internet and mobile phones. Content is delivered across these platforms through the organisation's bespoke content management system.
Another content-led entry was Trexy.com. Launched in February 2006, Trexy.com is a search engine that aims to create a universal searching memory by remembering an individual's searches and the web pages they visit. Free to all users, Trexy.com is the first engine to interoperate with thousands of other search engines to remember and share individual searches.
Cambridge-based Visual Planet has developed a display technology that allows video, broadcast and web to be projected onto a large screen, with touchscreens controlling the content. For the first time, shop windows and public buildings can be used as giant touchscreens.
While the judges were very impressed with all three medallists, there was one Technology Award project that stood out from all the others. Accordingly, that project - for the development of a sea safety system for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI, pictured above) by Active Web Solutions - is the winner of the BT Innovation Flagship Award for Technology as well as the Systems sub-category.
"We were really impressed by Active Web Solutions' winning entry," said the judging panel. "It has shown true leadership in inventing, developing and manufacturing a leading-edge, dynamic solution. It is entries like this that showcase the varying situations in which advanced technologies can really make a difference."
"Raising awareness of the impact that technology can have on everyday life is one of the key reasons that we sponsor the systems category," says IBM master inventor Chris Sharp.
A number of software components were developed specifically for this project, the chief ones being a satellite gateway interface, message processing engine and operations console.
"Through the development of this unique system, Active Web Solutions has taken the RNLI ever closer to its aim of ensuring safety on the open seas. Innovation is all about going that one step further and breaking boundaries. The system does just that and by meeting - and exceeding - the demands of such a complex brief, Active Web Solutions has set a new standard for all," says Graham Brookes, chairman of the judges for the BCS Technology Awards.