SICSA HCI Research Theme update

by Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey 
2 November 2017


The SICSA HCI theme is one of the longest running themes in SICSA. Within Scotland, we have a range of world-leading expertise that address the difficult research problems in human-computer interaction. As such the SICSA HCI Theme encompasses over 36 individual research groups at 12 Scottish universities. We also maintain a low-traffic and high-relevance mailing list of over 300 academics and practitioners and we welcome proposals to fund local events in Scotland. To give you an idea of the sorts of things we do below are come details on several events we have been involved in over the past 12 months.

  • Each year we hold the SICSA All Hands meeting, the most recent event took place in November 2016 in St Andrews, and that was sold out (about 60 people attended). 2 internationally renowned HCI researchers (Professor Alan Dix and Professor Albrecht Schmidt) gave keynote talks. During the event we also had a town hall meeting to discuss the future of the community and had short presentations from the majority of HCI groups in Scotland. We have also established a working collaboration with the new ACM SIGCHI UK chapter. They also presented information about the new chapter and potential challenges at the all hands meeting.
  • We sponsored student places at the The Biological Visualisation Community’s 3rd Annual Meeting at Edinburgh Napier University in April 2017. This meeting included 3 keynotes, 7 talks on biological data visualisation as well as lightning talks, posters and demos.
  • We sponsored 2 student places at the Tiree Techwave, a creative workshop that tries to bring together creative people from disparate background to solve real world problems
  • Each year we hold a pre-CHI to present the papers from Scotland accepted to ACM CHI, the preeminent venue for HCI research. In 2017 the event was at the University of Dundee. 15 research papers, which represent a subset of accepted papers, were presented on the day
  • Along with multiple research groups we sponsored a SICSA HCI promotional event at CHI 2017 in Denver, Colorado. In 2019 CHI will be held in Glasgow, this is the first time the event will be in the UK. The promotional event intended to promote HCI research in Scotland and also to encourage leading HCI researchers to visit Scotland before and after CHI
  • Each year we also hold a SICSA HCI Doctoral Consortium, this is timed to coincide with the SICSA PhD Conference to reduce travel requirements for students. This was also hosted by the University of Dundee in June 2017.
  • In August 2017 a Digital Humanities Workshop was held at the University of Strathclyde. Their aim of this workshop was to bring together researchers from the extensive research base of both computing and the humanities across Scotland. 2 internationally researchers gave keynotes (Professor Lorna Hughes and Professor Daniela Petrelli), with most of the rest of the day taken up with networking and knowledge sharing events.

As can be seen from the activities above, we are interested in a range of events to support HCI researchers in Scotland and also interested in expanding our network and research world view. If you want to get involved or have some new ideas for our community please get in contact. The Research Theme Leaders for Human-Computer Interaction are Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey.

Helping your Cyber Security Journey

by Alan Settery, SICSA Cyber Security Network Integrator
9 October 2017

As always Freshers week was full of enthusiasm and energy as students were welcomed across Scotland’s universities and now settle down to start their new computing science and cyber security courses.

It’s an exciting time to be involved and set out on this journey; technology is evolving at a fast pace and there are a lot of interesting areas to be involved in – from bit coins and block chain to artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous cars; from a raspberry pi and hackathons to the cloud, supercomputers and big data analytics. Of course cyber security needs to be considered in all of these areas and many more. We know the importance being digitally safe and secure plays in our day to day lives and the role industry has in dealing with cyber threats to our services and infrastructure.

Cyber UpdateRecently, some students may have attended the CyberFirst events held across universities – Edinburgh Napier University and University of Glasgow. These courses are organised by the National Cyber Security Centre and aimed at encouraging 11 – 17 year olds to the world of cyber security. It is worth noting that CyberFirst is a Student Bursary scheme which is available to first year students at university too – details are available and applications are usually open in April each year.

Interestingly Lockheed Martin have sponsored CyberFirst too.

For those of you with an interest in, but not already on a cyber security course, if would like to know more about the topic there is a free on-line Open University introduction through Future Learn. This covers, Threat landscape, Authentication, Malware, Networking & Comms, Cryptography, Network Security, Defences and Risks and could be a flexible way to understand more.

Did you know?

 – October is the raising Cyber Security awareness month in Europe and in the USA

Another successful HCI All Hands Day

by Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey, SICSA HCI Research Theme Leaders

The SICSA HCI All Hands day was held on Tuesday November 29th at the University of St Andrews. This is an annual event where members  of the the SICSA HCI theme meet to reflect on the previous year and to discuss how to move forward for the following year. The event was a sell out and was attended by approximately 60 participants from across SICSA institutions.

Prior to the event beginning the SACHI research group in St Andrews hosted a pre-event reception and open lab session where they demonstrated some of their innovative demos.

The main meeting was bookended by two keynote talks. The opening keynote entitled “Amplifying the Mind with Digital Tools: Technologies to Enhance Human Perception and Cognition” was given by Professor Albrecht Schmidt, University of Stuttgart. This talk focussed on how digital tools can provide us with entirely new opportunities to enhance the perceptual and cognitive abilities of humans, and the interesting research problems that arise. The closing keynote entitled “Open Data Islands and Communities: How do we make digital technology serve those at physical and social margins of society?” was given by Professor Alan Dix, University of Birmingham. Alan’s talk focused particularly on open data, how we can devise ways to make it more easily found, accessed, and visualised by small communities at the edges, and moreover how they can become active creators of information: producers not merely subjects of data.

During the day we had a town hall meeting to discuss future directions for the SICSA HCI theme. One of the outcomes from this was a list of potential future events for the HCI theme over the next year. We also had a madness presentation session, each research group attending was allowed 3 minutes to present an overview of their research group. In total close to 20 groups from most SICSA universities were represented. This was a useful exercise to raise awareness of different groups and capabilities across Scotland. The variety of topics and approaches to research (from practical and industry-oriented to more abstract and fundamental research) was an eye-opener.

Over lunch we had a presentation from and discussion with the new SIGCHI UK chapter. SIGCHI is the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction, and is considered one of the world’s leading organisations. The aim was to raise awareness of the new UK chapter and also discuss the potential for SICSA HCI and SIGCHI UK to help each other. SIGCHI UK also sponsored a social event at the end of the All Hands meeting, the fruitful discussions that started over coffee and lunch during the day were thus able to continue later on in the pub.

Overall this was an extremely successful and well attended event. The SICSA HCI community has been strong for a long time, and this was obvious at the meeting.