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Digital Evolution and the Rise of AI and Machine Learning – BelTech 2017

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This year brings the fourth annual BelTech conference to Northern Ireland, this premier high tech event will take place on the 6-7th of April 2017 at Titanic Belfast. This year’s keynote speakers will include representatives from global technology giants Amazon and Microsoft, in addition to a host of other names confirmed to address delegates.

BelTech aims to be the premier technology event for local software practitioners, business leaders, entrepreneurs and young people aspiring to break into the industry. The event also fosters the ability for professionals of all backgrounds to engage, connect and share ideas.
The event is curated by Northern Ireland-based digital solutions provider Kainos Software and features influential international speakers from the worlds of software engineering, machine learning, connected systems, immersive tech and cyber security.

Confirmed international speakers include: Ian Massignton, technical evangelist of Amazon Web Services; Ryan Mesches, technical evangelist from Microsoft; Irene Lopez de Vallejo, director of R&D programmes at Digital Catapult; Simon Burbridge, vice-president of engineering from communication technology specialists Openmind; and Dr Suzanne Little, DCU & Croke Park Smart Stadium.
Local speakers so far include Philip McAleese from intelligent bike light makers See.Sense and Austin Tanney of big data specialists Analytics Engines.

During the two-day conference, speakers will interact with attendees at a series of workshops and keynote presentations, while 400 post-primary students will have the opportunity to attend inspirational sessions about sustainable digital career paths.

The event highlights the growing interest in digital here in Northern Ireland and global impact of technology in a range of industries. The thought leaders will cover several topics ranging from product design to cloud computing. With AI and machine learning being the key themes of the conference. The event seeks to educate a range of professionals with all thing’s AI, and how AI can transform businesses operating in different industries. Indeed, AI is a growing segment of today’s tech environment, with as many as three quarters of Irish companies believing that AI will have a major impact on their industry in coming years.

In fact, Accenture’s Annual Technology Vison Report highlights that Irish companies believe more so than other countries that AI will revolutionise the way they gain information and interact with customers. A further three quarters of firms surveyed expect AI interfaces to become their primary interface for interacting with the outside world. Tom Gray, Group Chief Technology Officer at Kainos, states “There’s a lot of work going on to position the UK tech sector and a certain amount of agreement that many of the major areas of tech in the years ahead will be supported by developments in artificial intelligence”

Furthermore, the rise of AI is not without challenges with up to 41 per cent of Irish companies expecting some form of compatibility issues to impact the take up of this technology within firms. Other cited concerns with AI include privacy issues, lack of usable data and the newness of this technology. But that won’t stop Irish firms investing in this technology. The focus for investment for Irish firms will be in the capabilities of AI within natural language processing, computer vision, machine learning, deep learning and embedded solutions such as IPsoft’s Ameilia in call centre services or IBM’s Watson embedded in healthcare diagnostics.

The research from Accenture also shows that Irish organisations are racing to keep up with advances in technology, with one in five surveyed saying their industry is facing major disruption over the next three years. It’s highly likely that AI will be a major disruption in coming years, Tom Gray at Kainos believes “that advances in Artificial Intelligence are likely to alter the jobs market, making some jobs obsolete and creating a demand for new skills”. BelTech’s goal is to discuss these issues further and provide a platform to better understand emerging trends such as AI and machine learning throughout the two days.

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Open Data Standards

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Speaker: Alex Torpey, Seton Hall University.

Collecting and making data open is what so many cities want to do, and so many private tech companies want, but there is a major standardization problem, especially in less tech focused areas or cities, or smaller towns that also want to help. What’s the solution? Government legislation/policy? Private company leadership? An independent organization that creates standards? How are governments bought into using them? Additionally, there are many policies in place at various of levels of government that prevent or don’t explicitly allow this, which further hampers progress. The professor I teach with in the masters program here at Seton Hall University received a grant from Bloomberg to look into this, and we’d like to present what we’re working on.

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Protecting your privates

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Speaker: Neil J. Armstrong, SQS.

For the past number of years and going forward, the concept of privacy is becoming eroded and the devices we carry around all day long are one of the major culprits.

During Neil’s presentation, he will talk about some of the channels in which your personal information is acquired and used for various purposes.

There will also be a live demo from a selection, including wireless tracking code that Neil developed, or the framework he developed for assessing privacy violations in mobile applications.

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Integration of Software Development and Software Maintenance

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Speaker: David Bustard, University of Ulster.

Software development transition covers the activities associated with transferring responsibility for a software product from a development team to a maintenance team.

This is a difficult aspect of software development but is one that has received little attention in the literature, especially in relation to agile development. The purpose of this talk is to help address that deficiency. It does so by clarifying the transition concept for agile development, identifying challenges in this process, and then proposing ways to improve the activities involved.

The discussion is illustrated with examples of practice at the software company Kainos, where agile techniques are used in both development and maintenance. The discussion includes a specific transition case study in a UK Government Cabinet Office project.

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Law Enforcement and Technology

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Speaker: Alex Torpey, Seton Hall University.

This is a big issue in the US, and I know in other parts of the world too. We are not just thinking about security and investigations, but the holistic approach to policing, and finding ways to help a police department connect with a community and enlist them in their mission to protect and serve.

How does technology help that? How does it hurt it?

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The Human Connection of Software

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Speaker: David Anderson, Liberty IT.

As a large company, we have a significant “book of business” to run, but at the centre of the Insurance business is a deeply personal relationship with our customer and we help them when they need it most. We have a constant drive to put the individual first and ensure our technology delights and makes a difference to your day to day. Regardless if you are a Policy Holder, a business partner or a technology user (internal or external).

This panel discusses how important the Human Element is to the world of technology and how we must not forget to think about people. It will also discuss a few key areas where this is most critical (and are not always the most obvious choices).

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Abusing your code on every commit

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Speaker: Caoimhin Graham, Kainos.

Security can often be a bottom heavy process where testing and review occurs at the end of the software development lifecycle just prior to go-live.

I would like to discuss different methods you can employ to automate large parts of the security process and integrate this into your build/deployment process to minimise the possibility of surprises either before or after you go live.

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Software Quality is for life not just for QA

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Speaker: Gareth Burns, SQS.

In the last few years, with the maturity of cloud technologies and different software delivery methods, the demands on software have dramatically increased.

Applications have never been so ubiquitous in our daily lives. Users expect applications to be constantly available, up to date and defect free.

They also expect clear communication and engagement. Any deviation from this can impact a company’s reputation, directly impacting the profits.

Over the last few years we have all witnessed this with Twitter storms and media coverage on everything from banking to video game releases.

Quality is no longer just the concern of the testers. It’s now a real hot topic for all aspects of a business, from marketing to operations. It has a symbiotic relationship with a business strategy and finding that perfect blend that suits a business is challenging, but can pay large dividends.

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The Offline Web – Not an oxymoron

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Speaker: Alex Turnbull, Kainos.

We live in a disconnected world. However this should not adversely affect our experiences when using mobile web applications offline.

Using existing HTML5 and JavaScript technologies it is possible to create great offline user experiences that not only make a mobile web application work offline but positively affect the application in terms of speed, reliability and usability.

More specifically we look at the technology that can be used to create offline first web applications, including how to cache pages/assets and how to store data using different browser storage options.

We will explore the offline first design pattern and why it is an important factor to consider when developing web apps.

We will also look at how this approach is becoming more and more important in developing countries where people are only getting access to the internet now.

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