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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K003569/1
Title: Digital Economy IT as a Utility Network+
Principal Investigator: Frey, Professor JG
Other Investigators:
Parr, Professor G Sandler, Professor M Mortier, Professor R
Surridge, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 06 April 2012 Ends: 30 June 2016 Value (£): 1,480,940
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions Mobile Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Smart phone apps have shown that there is a demand for easy-to-use IT functions, yet the potential scope and impact of easy to use IT is much greater. This network will promote research into providing access to a wider range of IT facilities that are simple to use, while users need know only that these services are available and safe to use, not where they come from and how they are provided. However, it is not enough to provide the services and the means of using them securely. The network will develop the understanding of the human aspects of such services: the barriers, perceived as well as real, that inhibit new users of the services. We rely implicitly on other things, such as our cars and our electricity supply, so a major Network facet will be in the area of "how can we encourage the same level of trust in IT services"; the network will tackle the the issues from a user perspective.

An analogy with the traditional utilities of Power and Water is interesting. With Water we do care about the actual product as we do in part consume it directly! We also use it to drive a range of other processes. With electricity, while we do measure the amount we consume, most people don't actually think in terms of the current flowing though their mains circuits but in terms of boiling the kettle or switch on the TV - it is the service that the power enables that we focus on (at least until the power goes out). For IT this is even more true; for almost all the time we are not concerned with the infrastructure but with the services that this infrastructure can provide. Therefore there will be a strong focus in the network on such the provision of such services and also their operational management protocols.

IT drives and is driven by technology, inescapably hardware is also IT and that it is now commoditised and therefore utilitarian and has the capability to alter dramatically the way people interact with the space around them by merging physical and digital spaces in a cost effective manner. Smart spaces, responsive environments, and location dependent services can fundamentally alter interactions between people as well as the space around them.

These services depend at their heart on information and data. The ITaaU Network+ will therefore interact closely with governmental and research council initiatives on Open Data, and more generally on use and re-use of data, made feasible by the adoption of open and linked data standards, and new services which can be developed as more data becomes available.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL: http://www.itutility.ac.uk
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk