UWE Bristol Scientist publishes book exploring practical applications of graph theory

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UWE Bristol’s Dr Vadim Zverovich, Senior Lecturer in Operational Research, has recently had his new book published – Modern Applications of Graph Theory. The book discusses many cutting-edge applications of graph theory, such as traffic networks, navigable networks and optimal routing for emergency response, placement of electric vehicle charging stations, and graph-theoretic methods in molecular epidemiology. Due to the rapid growth of research in this field, the focus of the book is on the up-to-date development of these applications and the mathematical methods used to tackle them.

One of the topics discussed in the book is devoted to the well-known Braess’ paradox in traffic networks. Braess’ Paradox illustrates situations when the addition of another road link or route, with the intention of improving traffic flow, actually has the opposite effect of causing more congestion. This is because drivers generally choose their own driving routes when making their travel plans, without thinking about the traffic flow for all drivers, so that the road system as a whole does not operate optimally.

Deeper insight into this paradox from the viewpoint of the structure and characteristics of road networks may help transport planners to avoid the occurrence of Braess-like situations in real-life networks. If the analysis of all performance measures in a road network is done before the construction of a new road, then a huge amount of money and time can be saved. One relevant example is a demolition of a motorway section in Seoul in 2003, which improved travel time in the local network and resulted in a restoration of a river under the motorway (see Figure 2). The demolition and restoration costs were £201 million, not including very high construction expenses and upkeep of the river. Although it is generally believed that this is a real-life example of Braess’ paradox, it was not proved mathematically that the paradox actually occurred in this road network.

“The Cheonggyecheon river in Seoul: before (left picture) and after (right picture)

A generally accepted belief is that Braess’ paradox is wide spread. This was confirmed by some researchers who claimed that the likelihood of the paradox is 50%, or even higher under some assumptions. However, Dr Zverovich proved mathematically that typical probabilities for Braess’ paradox to occur in classical road network configurations do not exceed 10%.  In addition, the probability of Braess’ paradox to occur is 6% in the classical network configuration consisting of motorway sections and class A roads. Notice that for traffic networks consisting of motorway sections, class A roads or a mixture of both, statistical tests showed that the distribution of parameters of travel time functions follow the Erlang-k distribution for small values of k.


Examples of the Erlang-k distribution for the parameters of travel time functions of motorway sections and class A roads.

Congratulations to Dr Vadim Zverovich on his recent book success.

Seeing people in the data

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Original post shared on the Science Communications Unit.

By Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers 

We’re living through a Climate and Ecological Emergency and we urgently need to reduce carbon emissions. And yet society seems frozen into inaction. Could a new modelling and communication approach help to gather momentum? 

The ClairCity project was led by UWE Bristol and brought together the Air Quality Monitoring Resource Centre and the Science Communication Unit. The project reached over 818,000 citizens through innovative public engagement methods including an online game, extensive workshops and surveys, and schools activities.  

In a journal paper recently released, the research team detailed their innovative method to bring these results together, through citizen-centred source apportionment. Traditional methods for monitoring air pollution and carbon emissions look at what is creating the emissions (vehicles, heating etc), and where the emissions end up (pollution hot spots). 

Focus on Who and Why 

This new approach focusses on who is burning fossil fuels and why they are doing so. This means we can understand the human dimension of emissions to improve policymaking, accounting for demographics (gender or age groups), socio-economic factors (income/car ownership) and motives for specific behaviours (e.g., commuting to work, leisure, shopping, etc.). 

The modelling produced some surprises when applied to traffic in Bristol – as leisure travel accounted for the most km travelled, and therefore the most emissions per year.  Local councils usually focus on school traffic or commuting, but this provides a new way to approach emissions reduction. Policymakers plan to look at ways to reduce car use for leisure travel, for instance locating leisure venues near to public transport or cycling paths, or even considering plans for 15 minute cities, where any necessary city amenities are within a 15 minute walk from homes.  

For science communicators, there is also much to think through as well. The modelling showed that emissions are not evenly produced; certain types of people produce more emissions than others, and some feel the effects of pollution more than others. For instance, men travel by car more than women, and people who earn over £50,000 per year tend to own more cars, and therefore drive far more often.  

Perceptions of ‘sensible’ climate action vary between groups 

We therefore need a far more nuanced approach to communicating about climate action. Climate Outreach have done some excellent work on this topic, with their work on seven segments of British society and their attitudes to climate action. Science communicators need to focus on the segments polluting the most, and tailor communications showing the benefits of each relevant action they can take.  

The UWE team’s new journal paper take this further using social psychology theories, explaining how the social contexts of the groups to which we belong influence what we perceive to be ‘normal’ in society. This means that cultural realities can change between social groups, cities, regions and countries. This ‘Overton Window of Political Possibility’ can shift over time so that an idea moves from unthinkable to radical, to acceptable, to sensible, to popular and finally into policy. For example, a climate change policy which is considered quite sensible in one city, such as an extensive network of segregated bike lanes allowing for cars to be curtailed in the city centre (Amsterdam in the Netherlands), may be considered to be quite radical in another city (such as Bristol, U.K.).  

Science communications needs to focus on group lived experience of this ‘normality’, in order to understand more about why our day-to-day behaviours happen, and how we can change if we see others doing the same. Politicians will generally only pursue policies that are widely accepted throughout society as legitimate policy options, or otherwise, they may risk losing popular support and become unelectable. In order to introduce new policies, we therefore need to show how an idea can be communicated so that it resonates with what is deemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘sensible’ to the majority of citizens. 

People like me create emissions, and people like me can take action 

The UWE team showed how social cognitive theory can be used to help improve individual and collective self-efficacy for climate action. Using an example of more women cycling to activities, we need to focus on: 

  1. Vicarious experiences (i.e., comparisons of capability to others, modelling and observing)—a woman deciding whether to cycle will be influenced by whether other women cycle; if this is considered a ’normal’ thing for women to do, then other women will likely join in.  
  1. Mastery or performance accomplishments (i.e., experiences of relevant success)—a beginner female cyclist will be more likely to continue cycling if they have a positive experience cycling on main roads; they will then have a memory to recall about their ability to cycle alongside cars. 
  1. Verbal persuasions (positive feedback from peers and supervisors, coaching)—to continue cycling, the female cyclist would need to receive direct positive feedback on this activity.  
  1. Emotional arousal – both vicarious (indirect) and mastery (direct) experiences can influence our emotional states. To improve self-efficacy for an activity, we need to experience positive emotional responses. Therefore, the woman would need to feel that she is capable and confident at cycling and that other people approve or admire her behaviour. 

So climate action needs positive (and relevant) role models, alongside positive press or communications (in relevant media) in order to help change our behaviours.  

The ClairCity project showed how new thinking about the role of people in relation to air pollution and carbon emissions can widen options for action, leading to more acceptable and effective policies. Climate communications should draw on social learning in order to tailor communication efforts towards relevant groups. Ultimately, we need to become more aware that ’people like me’ create emissions and, equally, ‘people like me’ can take action to reduce emissions. 


Fogg-Rogers, L.; Hayes, E.; Vanherle, K.; Pápics, P.I..; Chatterton, T.; Barnes, J.; Slingerland, S.; Boushel, C.; Laggan, S.; Longhurst, J.. Applying Social Learning to Climate Communications—Visualising ‘People Like Me’ in Air Pollution and Climate Change Data. Sustainability 202113(6) 3406 doi.org/10.3390/su13063406 

UWE Bristol Unconventional Computing Laboratory Researchers Featured in Special Journal Edition

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Photo courtesy Irina Petrova, 2020

Several academics from UWE Bristol and visiting scholars from the Unconventional Computing Laboratory (UCL) have been featured in a special issue of LINKs, an annual transdisciplinary review, edited by Professor Andy Adamatzky, Professor in Unconventional Computing.

The special issue of LINKs will serve well as a light-touch introduction to unconventional computing for people not familiar with computing and might inspire artists and humanitarians to enter the field.

Unconventional computing is the future of computers. It is the most high speed and capacity which a computer will handle. A way to understand this theory is across its expressivity in the art as seen in Genaro Martínez, Andy Adamatzky, Marcin Schroeder’s research on the art of unconventional computing with cellular automata.

Genaro Martínez shares some of his research images below:

“Cellular automata and Turing machines are both abstract models:

It is the result of a binary collision between two particles in a three-dimensional space. So, later of 112 generations the result is a propagation of symmetric patterns self-replicating, as demonstrated above.

They are related to patterns in the universe or in nature. In this case, a three-dimensional cellular automaton reproduces one of these patterns from a collision of particles. It is related in physics (big bang theory) where the construction of a universe (artificial in this case) begins later of the collision and expands forever.

The above image is a Turing machine in colours. Typically, a Turing machine works in one dimension and shows the steps of an algorithm, in the sense abstract. This is as if you could see step by step how your computer calculates data. Of course, it is not evident for the final user, but in computer science, our picture shows a pictorial representation as a Turing machine works but in two dimensions for a computable process.”

Research from other UCL members was also included in the special edition:

Andy Adamatzky and Irina Petrova’s research on Fungal Grey Matter looks at recent discoveries that the electrical activity of fungi is similar to neurons. They briefly overview their discoveries on sensing and computing with fungi.

In the special issue, Andrew Adamatzky, Anna Nikolaidou, Antoni Gandia and Alessandro Chiolerio briefly reviews their ideas on Living wearables from slime mould and fungi. They argue that Living wearables offer a new spectrum of performance possibilities such as reactiveness, adaptiveness, and sensing capabilities. Whilst also being harmless to the environment, biodegradable and they can even nurture the cultivation of new materials in their end of life.

Finally, UCL member Richard Mayne shares his research on Collapsing the wave function on postquantum unconventional computing. His research examines what quantum computing is, why we need to be aware of it and whether there is a role for unconventional computing in a postquantum world.

All the research mentioned in the special edition of LINKs can be viewed here.

The UCL was founded by Professor Andy Adamatzky in 2001 as a response to an urgent need to develop computers for next century. Their research looks at novel computational techniques, architectures and working prototypes of non-linear media based computers.

University spin-out enables IBS diagnosis method

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Adapted from news article shared on the University of Liverpool website.

Nidor Diagnostics is working with its industrial partner to carry out final validation of a new diagnostic for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) before commercial launch.

Nidor is spin-out company between the University of Liverpool, UWE Bristol, the University of Bristol and The Wellcome Trust.

The company was established to develop a medical diagnostic device to improve the diagnosis of bowel disorders. The device, named Inform ™, can detect the volatile organic compounds in patient samples, in order to diagnose and monitor a range of medical conditions.

The company has recently agreed to partner with an accredited clinical laboratory, licensed to undertake trials for regulatory work. In addition, Nidor has received £75,500 funding from the Liverpool City Region Future Innovation Fund to build its first instruments to be trialled and validated by the laboratory. For the first time ever, Nidor Diagnostics will be able to positively diagnose IBS and help patients to get the correct treatment.

IBS has a huge impact on the lives of patients, bringing cramps, severe pain and unpredictable bowel habits. Despite being a common condition, there is currently no test to definitively diagnose the condition, with many doctors instead performing numerous tests to rule out other conditions. 

Over-investigation of symptoms related to IBS can also prove costly and potentially dangerous. Patients often perceive that an IBS diagnosis is only made when doctors don’t know what is wrong..

Previous studies from the University of Liverpool’s Professor Chris Probert, co-inventor of the new diagnostic technology, have repeatedly shown that the gas pattern from stool samples can be used to separate patients with IBS from those with healthy bowels as well as those with inflamed bowels.

Ben De Lacy Costello, Associate Professor of Biosensing and Diagnostics at UWE Bristol and UWE co-inventor of the technology said: “Myself and Professor Norman Ratcliffe had an interest in the changes in smell induced by disease processes and making sensor systems to detect these changes. Our long running collaboration the University of Liverpool gave this work a clinical focus and it is great to see commercial diagnostic tests being developed by Nidor on the back of this collaborative research effort”

Nidor is planning to be able to launch its first services in late 2021.

Read the original release here.

UWE Bristol Active Living Architecture: Controlled Environment (ALICE) project selected to be showcased on EU Innovation Radar Website

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The Active Living Architecture: Controlled Environment (ALICE) project has been recognised by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar team has an Innovation Highlight and will be showcased on their website.

The project, which follows on from the Living Architecture research programme, is a joint venture between UWE Bristol, Newcastle University and Translating Nature.

The aim of ALICE is to introduce and familiarise sustainably-minded promotors such as architects, designers, engineers, “green” businesses and their clients, to advocate the use live microbes as processors of waste within our homes and cities.

ALICE aims to provide a publicly accessible interface that is activated by household waste, namely urine and grey water. It exploits the properties of the integrated bioreactor system developed for the Living Architecture (LIAR) project. Creating a useable context and habitat that can be exhibited at biennales or festivals and explored by these audiences. ALICE catalyses a conversation about the future of sustainability in homes and public buildings, as well as the lifestyle changes implicit in adopting this new generation of utilities.

ALICE is a highly personal experience where ‘users’ may understand how waste can be dealt with differently in the home by putting it to good use. ALICE takes the form of a cabin and through a digital interface that translates data into graphical animations, participants will be able to see how their waste ‘enlivens’ the cabin’s performance. For example, turning on LEDs, or charging small mobile devices.

Conceptually, ALICE may be likened to the ‘tamagotchi pet’, a digital toy that flourishes through the owner’s digital care and attention. In this way, ‘care’ for ALICE is through its feeding and engagement with audiences. The system will also collect data that will help the innovators better understand the performance and potential usage of such a system outside the laboratory space so that appropriate prototypes for market can be developed.

UWE Bristol lead for the project Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor of Bioenergy and Self-Sustainable Systems and Director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, commented on the project: We are delighted for this recognition by the European Commission, which is an important milestone in our endeavour to make this technology widely available. The work of our partners has enabled the successfully translation of a complex technology into a visual representation that is highly appealing to a wide audience and this could have only been achieved through open-minded collaboration. We very much look forward to seeing this installed in everyone’s home.

Congratulations to Ioannis and the team for the recognition of their project.

Dr Shawn Sobers awarded Arts and Humanities Research Council EDI Engagement Fellowship

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Associate Professor in Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice and UWE Bristol alum, Dr Shawn Sobers, has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Engagement Fellowship alongside nine other humanities researchers. The funding is to further the impact of their EDI research.

Fellows will work with communities to explore topics including the loneliness epidemic in LGBTQ+ communities and the forgotten relationship between the city of Bath and Ethiopian culture. The fellows will be supported by a total investment of over £850,000 which will be used to engage diverse audiences with their outstanding research.

Shawn’s research project looks at Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I who lived in Bath, and is considered God incarnate by members of the Rastafari faith. This interdisciplinary project uses the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I and his connection to Bath as the basis of a seven-month series of events celebrating openness and cultural inclusivity. It will build connections between local communities and encourage conversation and cross-cultural connections.

Research into the arts and humanities can bring new perspectives to the way we think about contemporary challenges. When such research is rooted in engagement with the communities and issues affecting the public, it can drive real-world change. This funding will enable EDI Engagement Fellows to develop a range of exciting engagement opportunities including community workshops and a bespoke festival. These opportunities will connect existing academic research with communities across the UK to deliver research with a tangible impact on society and help shape future EDI policies.

Other research includes:

  • Professor Anna Fox, who will host a series of innovative workshops and mentorship activities to drive awareness of women’s unheard stories using photography and story-telling practices.
  • Dr Patricia Noxolo, whose work will include three artistic provocations designed to provoke discussion about everyday negotiations between security and insecurity that different races experience.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, said:

“Learning about our heritage and culture and participating in the arts can deepen our perception of our history and of ourselves. 

“These fellowships will enable researchers to connect their scholarship with diverse communities across the UK and bring about positive change.

“Arts and humanities research has tremendous potential to help people to embrace different viewpoints and to build a fairer, more inclusive society.”

AHRC has a longstanding commitment to upholding the principles of equality, diversion and inclusivity in all activities and AHRC is committed to creating a more inclusive research and innovation environment.

Congratulations to Shawn on this achievement.


About the Arts and Humanities Research Council The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe. ahrc.ukri.org.

Case study: How happy is your pig?

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Professor Melvyn Smith was recently interviewed by KTN about his research into the emotional state of pigs. The below case study was written by Alan Cowie at KTN as part of their annual report:

Innovation in agriculture has advanced significantly over the past century. In 1920 it would take a farmer an hour and a half to till one acre of land. In 2020, it takes 5 minutes. It’s not just the technology which has effected change, it’s ever-changing societal attitudes which continue to revolutionise not only agriculture but other industries too.

Today’s farmer is not only interested in their animals’ physical health, but also their emotional wellbeing. We’re not pretending these animals are not being reared for food, but we all have a responsibility to ensure animals are content, happy and healthy throughout their lives, and healthier animals deliver higher yields.

One person who is doing that more than most is Mel Smith, a professor at the Centre for Machine Vision (CMV), based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is jointly run by the University of the West of England (UWE) and Bristol University. It was originally set up in 1999 to study industrial inspection, metrology, surface analysis and quality control. Over the years, and with extensive support from KTN, the CMV has completed projects in defence, health and, more recently, AgriFood. Projects have involved an EPSRC[1] funded trial using 3D imaging technology for facial recognition, examining the colon and the oesophagus for tumours and polyps, and 2D imaging grass fields using a convolutional neural network to locate and identify species of weed.

Where Mel wants to make a real impact is in animal welfare. “Tagging a pig’s ear can cause pain and distress to the pig” explains Mel. “Tags can also get ripped off and they get dirty. So what if there was a way of identifying the pig without even touching it?” This is where Mel’s photometric stereo technology comes in. In a recent trial[2], a drinker was adapted and fitted with a motion activated webcam, which takes thousands of pictures of the pigs’ faces every day, feeding a computer algorithm which successfully identifies the animal with 97% accuracy. But this goes beyond facial recognition. Mel believes his work shows that pigs are revealing their emotional state through facial expression. Are they happy? Are they content? Are they nervous? 

“You can interrogate the neural network to ask it which parts of the image it’s using to tell whether it’s a happy face or not. It produces a heat map showing the areas of the face it’s using to assess happiness. For pigs’ faces, it is around the eyes, ears and the top of the snout which relate to expression.” 

Mel has been collaborating with other researchers on the potential of using existing technologies and applying them in new ways. In one example, he explains how a system which was originally designed to analyse aggregate particles in the construction industry, has found new uses in agriculture, to check the body condition score of livestock, a measure of the health and welfare of animals. Mel explains how it involves a camera which takes a normal image and a 3D depth image. Looking down on a cow, it captures data as it walks underneath. “We’re looking at how bony the animal is – around its hindquarter, where you have its hook and pin bones. If they’re sticking through, they have a low body condition and if they’re nice and fat and rounded, they have a high body condition.” 

Happier animals are more productive and deliver higher yields, so there is a commercial advantage, as well as a social advantage. In an industry where profit margins are often very tight, new practices which promote efficiency or boost productivity are usually welcomed. We may be some way off seeing widespread livestock facial recognition in all farms, but attention to our environment and ecology is only increasing. Who knows where we’ll be in the next century. We already have ‘free range’ and ‘organic’ stickers on our food. Will we have ‘certified pig happy’ too?

Be it for commercial or animal welfare benefits, it’s clear Mel is passionate about using this technology for good. Mel says “It’s about finding a niche where we can make a contribution and machine vision technology has real value for the wellbeing of animals. If we can be at the forefront of this, and do something that’s cutting edge, that’s quite a motivation for me.”

Whilst many of the technologies Mel describes are not necessarily new, they are being applied in novel ways, and KTN has played a key role creating new opportunities and new connections for Mel.

“KTN have had a transformational impact on helping us to deploy our Machine Vision skills to collaborate with agriculture and food industry partners. We have really benefitted from the ability to network through KTN. Their funding expertise and knowledge of the AgriFood industry has led us to many new innovation opportunities that we would not have identified ourselves. Several of these projects have resulted in products that are now reaching a commercial stage”.


[1] Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

[2] Watch “Connected – the hidden science of everything”, episode one, on Netflix.

Alan Cowie is the Partnership, PR and Communications Lead at KTN.

UWE Bristol working with research organisations in Africa and the UK to build capacity for research management and administration

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In an exciting new collaboration, a team drawn from three research organisations in Africa and five in the UK are working together to build capacity for research management and administration at their own universities and beyond. 

Staff in Africa from the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology and, in the UK, from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), and the GW4 Alliance – the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter– are bringing together research development and management expertise to address barriers to north-south and south-south collaborations. 

The project involves an online survey among research managers and administrators (RMAs) across team members’ networks, designed to identify the skills and resource gaps and the operational and infrastructural challenges that RMAs face in both Africa and the UK. The team is very keen to hear from as many people as possible. If you work in this area you can take part in the survey via this link: https://redcap.link/qn5azr70.

By compiling and creating resources for competency-based training and best practice, the team also hope to develop RMAs’ capacity to build and deliver research partnerships professionally and equitably across countries and continents.  For RMAs working in donor countries, a better understanding of the local context in which their partners operate will also help strengthen collaboration and impact.

As well as the knowledge/skills gap scoping study, the project will involve conducting exchange visits, delivering an online knowledge exchange workshop and developing a competency-based draft training curriculum.  The collaboration is also extending participants’ networks and building their knowledge of evidence-based practice, which will support African institutions’ capacity to sustainably deliver research programmes.

The project forms part of the International Research Management Staff Development Programme (IRMSDP).  IRMSDP is an initiative of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in collaboration with the UK’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA).  Its aim is to enhance south-south and north-south collaborations, build mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures, and co-create resources that will benefit the wider research management community of practice.  ReMPro Africa, an initiative of the AAS, aims to fill critical gaps in the African research ecosystem to support a vibrant research culture and leadership at universities and research institutions.

This project, SMARTLife – Sustainable Management and Administration for Research: Training across the project Lifecycle – emerged through a rigorous process in which teams were first selected in the UK and Africa and then matched to form six combined international teams.  The project team is being led by Victoria Nembaware of the University of Cape Town and Simon Glasser of the University of Bristol.

The draft curriculum and a report on the project findings will be disseminated through the AAS and the various participating institutions and affiliated organisations.  The team hopes that the participating universities will continue to engage beyond this initiative and build their respective networks to facilitate further collaborations.

Notes

GW4 Alliance: The GW4 Alliance brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. From the creative arts to the physical sciences, the GW4 Alliance has world-leading scholarship, infrastructure and faculty. The GW4 Alliance aims to cultivate our regional economy, develop a highly skilled workforce and enhance the research and innovation ecosystem for the South West and Wales.

The GW4 Alliance has invested over £2.9m in 93 collaborative research communities, which are addressing major global and industrial challenges, and have generated over £46 million in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, GW4 captures over £15 in external research awards.

Find out more: http://gw4.ac.uk/

Knowledge Transfer Partnership with VQ Communications Graded Outstanding

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A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with VQ Communications has been graded Outstanding by Innovate UK.

The two year project aimed to embed knowledge of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine how ML/AI can be applied to VQ Communications complex systems to reduce support costs, boost engineering productivity and enable deployment of larger networks at lower cost and higher levels of service.

Mike Horsley, VQ Communications CEO commented: “It is very pleasing to see the investment made and the hard work, expertise and tenacity that the UWE/VQ team placed into this KTP being recognized in this manner.

VQ continues to invest in the AI/ML technology developed during the KTP and we are getting extremely encouraging results. The team has expanded to include an additional software engineer and we continue to work with the UWE team via a professional services agreement.

Advanced technology is difficult; it requires expertise and managed risk-taking. The KTP program enabled VQ to master a new technology and we are very excited about how the resulting new products and services will help our customers solve the problems they face and, by doing so, will enable VQ to further extend its market leadership and demonstrate continuing growth”.

Lead academic Professor Jim Smith, Professor in Interactive Artificial Intelligence, commented: “The partnership has been a fantastic opportunity to develop AI-based solutions together with a company, and the area: (improving video communication tools) couldn’t have been more topical during the pandemic.”

Based in Chippenham, VQ Communications produces software that allows customers to deploy and manage large video conferencing (also known as “Unified Communications”) services. VQ has established a leading market position over the last 15 years and VQ’s current product generation works with Cisco’s Meeting Server products and is being used by customers world-wide to deliver enterprise wide conferencing. VQ is a Cisco Solution Partner with Cisco recommending and selling VQ’s product.

UWE Bristol and VQ communications plan to continue their relationship together and have recently signed contracts to develop their work on the technology further.

View the VQ Communications case study here.

The KTP scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. With the help of graduate talent and access to UWE Bristol academic expertise, a KTP can help your business to transform and solve problems to achieve goals.

To find out more about KTPs please visit our website.

Book Launch: Roads, Runways and Resistance – from the Newbury Bypass to Extinction Rebellion

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Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning, Steve Melia, has written a new book called Roads, Runways and Resistance – from the Newbury Bypass to Extinction Rebellion. It spans a 30-year story of the most controversial issues in transport, and the protest movements they spawned.  His research included 50 interviews with government ministers, advisors and protestors – many of whom, including ‘Swampy’, were speaking for the first time about the events they describe. It is a story of transport ministers undermined by their own Prime Ministers, protestors attacked or quietly supported by the police, and smartly-dressed protestors who found a way onto the roof of the Houses of Parliament.

The research project which led to the book was partly funded by UWE, although most of the interviews and writing were done in Steve’s own time.  It also produced two academic journal articles, which inform the book’s conclusions in a ‘light touch’ way.

The book will be launched virtually in a webinar on the 26 January 2021. The webinar will be introduced and chaired by Prof. Graham Parkhurst.  Steve will tell the story of the main events described in the book, and also reflect on the tensions between academic research, direct action and writing for the general public, before opening for questions and discussion.

Register a place here

More about the book can be found here or watch this short video:

Steve Melia is a Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning in the Centre for Transport and Society. His research interests focussed on behaviour change (particularly in the context of climate change), changing transport policy and the interaction between transport and spatial planning.  He invented the term ‘filtered permeability’ and the concept of the ‘paradox of intensification’.  His PhD concerned the potential for carfree development in the UK.  He has advised UK Government departments, local authorities, political parties and the UK Climate Assembly in 2020.