3. OUCS Five Year plan areas

The OUCS five-year plan (2010-2015) has supported the core research activities from the earlier Research Strategy, namely:

  • Ubiquitous computing/networking
  • New technologies and applications
  • User requirements

There are also several key activities under these themes which OUCS will pursue namely: e-learning, management of data, access and identity, infrastructure, and security. In Appendix A several objectives are listed for the next five years and the following are with reference to research:

The plan identifies the following areas as priorities for the department and these are reflected in the research strategy. These are:

Groupware rollout and subsequent Sharepoint rollout
Groupware provides users with a group of applications to assist in collaboration, combining email, calendaring, scheduling, document sharing and a shared repository. Sharepoint will be exploited for facilitating research, research groups, and tools. Target: 2010 with rollout of the Sharepoint service (research groups identified as a main target for early adoption).
Wireless Network
The rollout of a University-wide wireless service providing seamless wireless access in key public areas across the University, as well as issues on how this could affect research (e.g. always on research, exploiting fully operational and widespread wireless network). Target: 2010-2012.
Rollout of new WebLearn
Development of the new Weblearn Virtual Learning environment is taking place based on Sakai. Links from WebLearn with the integration of Sakai with exchange and Sharepoint are very important for the teaching environment, as are tools to facilitate teaching.
Mobile communications
Mobile communications. Mobile Oxford (m.ox.ac.uk) has been launched and this will be further developed. Target: 2010-2012.
Social networking tools
OUCS will be issuing guidelines on how social networking tools can be used to increase ‘impact’ for research projects arising from the developments with the REF, after several successful projects. Target: 2010. This includes further work on podcasting for dissemination of research projects.
3D collaborative worlds
After a Second Life project in 2009, OUCS has good knowledge now of developing in 3D worlds. In 2010 we will be looking for external funding to take this forward.
User needs and requirements
OUCS has considerable expertise in analysing user needs and requirements, and profiling academic working practices and assessing how they could relate to IT service provision. In 2010 these will be applied across our services, but also specifically for the Humanities division in the ROQ project.
Visualising research data
This is a new area for OUCS but it is one that is emerging as a key concern for researchers. The EIDCSR project, for example, has a work package to facilitate browser-based access to very high resolution image sets. Throughout 2010-11 we will continue to monitor possible funding opportunities.
Research repositories and techniques for the management and curation of large research data sets.
This is being investigated by two existing projects, EIDCSR and Sudamih, together with input to the UK Research Data Service (UKRDS) bid to HEFCE. OUCS will investigate the provision of federated, extensible, cost-recovery filestore service for research projects. Target: 2010-2011.
Low Carbon Initiatives
Energy efficiency - Investigation into power reduction aims to reduce the carbon footprint of IT and promote energy efficiency across the University. OUCS successfully completed its Wake-on-LAN service and is now moving forward in other 'green' IT areas such as: green procurement and disposal; energy monitoring and reduction tactics.
Community Collections Developments
OUCS is now recognised as a main centre of expertise internationally in crowd-sourcing for community collections. Target: 2010-11 A new project funded by JISC will continue this work.

The above are specific projects that will be taken forward. However, if funding is available, there are other project areas for further work such as: open notebook developments; semantic web developments; and access auditing (global analysis of audit trails to determine traffic, social networking, future provision).

This research is also dependent on a series of core OUCS services, such as:

Identity and Access Management and Network Developments
The rollout of a Core User Directory as part of several initiatives on Identity and Access Management. The Network Developments will ensure the resilience and robustness of the network provision.
Facilitating research
The provision of research services such as archive and backup services, web publishing and a repository providing unified storage for research data, will assist researchers.
Education (covering areas such as e-Learning)
The refurbishment of existing facilities for users, notably expansion of OUCS training facilities and the development of Web 2.0 services (such as Podcasting and iTunesU), will allow wider distribution of information and public dissemination of University teaching and research, and also further the appropriate use of IT in traditional teaching and learning at Oxford.

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