Network and Information Sciences International Technology Alliance

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01 - IET outside - trimmed02 - Registration - trimmed

03 - Faraday - trimmedIBM Emerging Technologies and IBM Research led Consortium

2016 marks the tenth and final year for the Network and Information Sciences International Technology Alliance (NIS ITA) collaborative research programme. We recently showcased some of the key scientific achievements alongside great examples of the impact of our work at the UK Capstone Event.  This was held in the beautiful wood paneled Maxwell Library at IET London: Savoy Place, providing a delightful contrast between the historical venue and the leading edge research and emerging technologies being showcased at the event.

This unique collaborative programme between leading UK and US academic, industry and government organisations was created to advance the fields of Network and Information Science and to build rich and deep collaborations between the organisations and individuals involved. The particular focus of the research has been on rapidly formed coalition teams working at the edge of the network in a high-tempo operational environment.

The Programme

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Gavin Powell from Airbus UK demonstrates a body-worn development platform that carries out automated stress-assessment for personnel in the field, along with activity classification, location tracking, temperature and stress assessment as well as vital sign monitoring.

There were over 100 attendees with a diverse set of interests across the two days of the event, mainly drawn from UK government and industrial organisations. The morning agenda consisted of a series of plenary presentations on a variety of topics ranging from research, science and technology, collaborative aspects of the programme, the impact of the work and the perspective of external peer reviewers. In the afternoon the attendees were able to visit eight separate demonstrations for more detailed discussions with researchers from organisations across the alliance about their work. The demonstrations spanned from new techniques relating to fundamental scientific advances achieved on this programme, through to other examples that have already been used in various projects or applications, taking the research towards wider adoption.

Edgware Fabric

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Prof. Kin Leung from Imperial College, London demonstrating Network Tomography in Coalition Networks.

One demonstration showcased agile processing of mission-relevant information from both sensors and humans at the edge of the network, using a technology known as edgware fabric. This included the integration of a body-worn development platform from Airbus UK, in the form of an instrumented vest worn by one of the presenters. Other demonstrations highlighted: the potential value of reasoning over uncertain information, and how this can be supported by formal techniques for argumentation; aspects of Network Tomography, especially when applied in a coalition context and when considering external networks over which the user has no control; new cryptographic possibilities arising from Fully Homomorphic Encryption and Verifiable Outsourced Computation; the use of Sensor-Mission matching techniques; applications of a Dynamic Distributed Federated Database in a secure information processing environment, and; experiences from the 2014 NATO summit in the UK, trialing human-machine conversational interaction technologies with teams in field.

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Prof. Alun Preece and Dr. Colin Roberts from Cardiff University talking about their experiences in applying ITA research to the NATO Summit in 2014 and the Open Source Communication Analysis Research (OSCAR) Centre for UK policing that followed on from this work.

All of these demonstrations highlighted the rich and deep collaborative bonds that have been built between the researchers on the programme, with every demonstration having contributions from multiple organisations across academia, industry and government.

Science Library

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Anna Thomas from IBM UK explains the ITA Science Library and the way in which the user interface and visualisations have been integrated with the ce-store technology developed under the ITA programme.

In addition to the demonstrations the IBM team also showcased the “Science Library” application that has been developed using ITA technology known as Controlled English (CE) and the ce-store. The Science Library provides a rich user interface to the 1000+ journal papers, conference papers and patents that have been created by the ITA consortium throughout the life of the programme. You can see this for yourself at and explore the publications, authors and organisations involved.

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The UK Capstone event for the NIS ITA, April 6th-7th in the Maxwell Library at IET London: Savoy Place.

Starting in 2006, the ten-year NIS ITA programme had funding of $92M provided jointly by the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Army Research Laboratory. IBM Research in the US and IBM Emerging Technology in the UK successfully led this consortium of leading academic and industrial partners throughout the 10 years of the programme, culminating in this final Capstone event showcasing just a few of the key achievements realized during the programme. This UK Capstone event follows the very successful sister event held in the US in 2016 at the Network Science Research Laboratory at the Army Research Laboratory Adelphi site. You can read more details about the US Capstone event here. These two Capstone events for the NIS ITA programme are the grand finale for ten years of highly successful collaborative research involving over 850 authors from 160 organisations spanning 25 countries. You can read much more about the programme, the science and some of the other stories in our eponymous book: “Network and Information Sciences International Technology Alliance”.

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Dave Braines
Dave Braines is CTO for the IBM UK Emerging Technology team and is a Fellow of the British Computer Society. He is also Industry Technical Area Leader for the US/UK International Technology Alliance basic research programme, guiding research activities from industry collaborators.  Dave continues to be an active researcher in areas such as Shared Understanding, Network Enabled Cognition and Controlled Natural Languages. He is particularly interested in the potential for strong human/machine hybrid teams and the technologies needed to underpin them, publishing a number of papers in these areas.
Dave Braines