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Apps that matter

Problem Solved: university research answering today's challenges

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Mobile technologies and in particular mobile applications or ‘apps’ have become an important part of the increasingly digitised UK and global economy.

The Centre of Excellence in Mobile Applications and Services (CEMAS) at the University of Glamorgan, partly funded by the European Regional Development fund, is providing research and development for SMEs in Wales to increase their competitiveness. The Centre has a primary responsibility to work with SMEs in the convergence area of Wales by helping them develop, test and find a route to market for their mobile application product.

The University of Glamorgan, partly funded by the European Regional Development fund, is providing research and development for SMEs in Wales to increase their competitiveness.

CEMAS is unique in the way that they are able to minimise the initial risks to businesses that are associated with developing a mobile application. This is done through a fully funded app development programme available to eligible SMEs in Wales. The CEMAS team can help Welsh SMEs and start-up companies develop their app idea on a number of platforms including iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

Underpinning this work is research which has broken new ground in many different areas. One research project led by Professor Al-Begain has been working on queuing models to assess the survivability of systems that face failure. The team introduced a new concept in the form of “propagated failures”. They developed a model that is capable of capturing system behaviour providing insight into its ability to continue to provide an acceptable level of service in case of disasters. This work has wide applications for organisations, big or small, that depend on complicated systems to underpin their operation.

We all know about popular apps built for entertainment, but CEMAS’s research is enabling businesses to develop apps that are mission-critical to important and often dangerous work. An example of such a business is C-ToolZ, a start-up that produces and sells specialist software to the power industry. The software is designed to assist the commissioning of high voltage substation protection systems.

It replaces most of the complex manual calculations performed by engineers which increases efficiency, saves time and increases accuracy and confidence in test results, which is of critical importance when commissioning substations given the dangers and risks associated with their failure. The increased portability of having an app means an engineer can have access to the software wherever they are. It is also much quicker and easier to open an app than to boot a laptop and load the software.

The power industry itself will ultimately be affected by the release of this app as laptops will be replaced by smartphones, engineers will be able to be more responsive and accurate in ensuring that a critical part of the UK’s infrastructure continues to work as it should.

“CEMAS has supported the project with their friendly, professional support, guidance and expertise throughout. My description and rough sketch of what I wanted was quickly transformed into a professional and sleek design. The app is very technical and the designer spent a lot of time and effort getting it perfect. I was given great legal and financial advice from the project manager.”

David Messruther, Managing Director of C-ToolZ