LGBTQ+ Social Panel Launch – 1st July 2022

With the set-up for London Pride very much in view as we walked in towards Information Technologists Hall, we were greeted with one of the many firsts of the night; the LGBTQ+ progress flag flying proudly over the door. It really was to be a night of firsts.

We were joined by the Master, who spoke about the importance of inclusion within the Company.

Our guest of honour was Alderman Tim Hailes JP. Tim reminded us of a number of historical firsts – he was the first openly gay Sheriff in the City of London, and he was in that role when the Old Bailey flew the pride flag for the first time in its 500+ year history, the very same court that prosecuted Oscar Wilde. Tim also congratulated WCIT on the launch of its LGBTQ+ social group which we believe may be the first such group to exist in a Livery Company. Finally, we were joined in pre-recorded form by Past Master Dr Stefan Fafinski JP. Stefan was the Master when the Equality Committee was formed, the driving force behind WCIT’s work to increase the diversity of its membership.

For something that had started as an off-hand comment about getting a few people together for a small social group, we were delighted at how well attended the event was and how well received the group has been. We were extremely proud of everyone who attended, and indeed of the lovely messages and comments we received, including from one prospective member who said they had been spurred on in their application process because of the existence of the group.

Nothing like this happens by itself, and so we would like to thank the Clerk and the Hall team for all their support in creating the event (and a special shoutout to the Beadle for his rather interesting “Beadlejuice” – don’t ask!). To The Master, Past Master Fafinski, and Alderman Tim Hailes for their impassioned words. And to each and every one of you who attended in person or offered words of support and encouragement, our wonderful extended IT family.

Freeman Ed Roger

Cito crew joins the Tudor Pull – 11th June 2022

On Saturday 11 June the Cito crew was making ready the Livery’s barge moored at Richmond – setting up the regalia, the canopy and side boards under which our passengers would travel the 18 miles down the River Thames to the Tower of London in formation behind the Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana.

This procession, known as the “Tudor Pull”, is based on a tradition that Henry VIII started when he sent a gift of value by river to his Constable at the Tower of London. There are no records as to what these gifts were. When the tradition was reinstated in 1987 and to engage the Livery movement who had barges, the Water Conservators presented a section of a genuine Tudor wooden water pipe, known as a Stela, which had been buried under the streets of the City of London. Made from hollowed tree trunks, these pipes transported water from the river into the City for use by its residents. The Stela symbolises the importance of the river Thames, one of London’s greatest assets and which has made the City the place it is today.

Our crew formed up along with the other 14 Livery Companies and City Institutions taking part in the escort and commenced our row down the river. This was a particularly special event for us as it was the first time that our lady rowers had participated in a long-distance row as a part of our Livery squad. Suzanne Harkins, Danielle Green and Beata Green all had a great time along with Phil Vela (Cox), David Berry, Guy Leppard and me. The team was proud to be flying the flag for the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists as a part of this great traditional event.

John Gavin
WCIT Bargemaster

Medicine and Health Panel – 21 June 2022

It was the longest day of 2022, and the quarterly speaker panel event was very fortunate to hear from Patrick Mitchell, the Director of Innovation, Digital and Transformation of Health Education England.  Patrick provided an update of the progress being made by the NHS arising from the TOPOL review in 2019 with regard to the recommendations on preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future.

Dr Eric Topol was commissioned in 2019 by the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, to set some thinking on how to deploy digital healthcare technologies throughout the NHS. At the recent Panel event, Patrick shared with us the agreed principles which included:

  • Patients included as partners and informed about health technologies
  • Evidence: the healthcare workforce needs expertise and guidance to evaluate new technologies, on the basis of real-world evidence of clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness
  • The gift of time: wherever possible the adoption of new technologies should enable staff to gain more time to care

There were four themes identified: Genomics, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, Digital Medicine and Organisational Development.

Patrick went on to share with us some of the huge challenges facing the NHS who employ 1.4million staff with 180,000 students currently in the process of qualifying.  The change required to make the patient more centric has been nicely summed up in a book written by Dr Eric Topol entitled “the Patient will see you now”, however there is much work to be done to move away from the current “paternal” clinician to patient relationship. As with any major change, the biggest hurdle is adoption and the change management process with people, “we are not robots” says Chairman Paul Finch.

One of the big game changers has been in e-learning, which in pre-lockdown were at 500,000 sessions / month, are now running at 200,000 sessions / day.

When asked about how the WCIT Medicine and Health Panel could assist, Patrick cited that any collaboration we can foster between different NHS trusts to help adopt good practice and share innovative ideas would be very welcome. Other ideas include providing assistance on how to bridge the gap with business when competing for the scare resources for skill sectors like Artificial Intelligence and Data Scientists. The Panel is looking to stir up a debate on this worthwhile subject.

The event was a huge success, in spite of being moved to virtual one owing to the rail strike, our thanks go to Patrick Mitchell for a very entertaining and inspirational talk.

The Panel has three streams running:

  1. A monthly forum to discuss current topical issues and how WCIT could make an impact
  2. Quarterly speaker events with networking sharing news and areas of development, perhaps show casing examples of innovative developments and their impact
  3. A working group looking at how we can bring our technical expertise to the benefit of Hospital Trusts

Ethical Dragons’ Quest – 13 June 2022

How do you maintain an ethical approach when you are consorting on the internet with bad guys, pretending to be one of them, and hoping to gather their secrets?  Do you restrict yourself to passive intervention, and where, in any event, is the boundary between passive intervention and the agent provocateur? What, if any, use do you make of information accidentally gleaned about the subject of an investigation when that person has been up to no good, but the particular bit of no good has nothing to do with what you are investigating? How much do you tell the client? Do you report criminal activity to the law-enforcement authorities? What about bigamy? How do you square active investigation with the subject’s right to privacy? How do you avoid sweeping innocent bystanders up into your investigation? What do you do to protect the mental well-being of your employees? How do you tell if the prospective client is himself a bad guy? If so, what do you do about it?

These and many other questions were addressed in the Ethical Dragons’ Quest held on 13 June in Information Technologists’ Hall and online. The man in the hot seat was Kevin McMahon CEO and Founder of Cyjax, a private security company which provides threat intelligence and related services for businesses and law enforcement, integrating information from various sources including the dark web. The Dragons who interrogated him were: Dr Nneka Abulokwe OBE, the founder of MicroMax Consulting and involved in NED Capita, and Davies Group; Professor Victoria Baines , the Chair of the WCIT Security Panel, newly-appointed Professor of IT at Gresham College and formerly of Facebook, Europol, and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (so likely to know a thing or two about bad guys!); Nicholas Beale, the Panel’s Chair and the lead author of An Unethical Optimization Principle and Chris Rees, the Former President of the British Computer Society and co-author of From Principles to Profit. 

The Dragons, aided and abetted by members of the audience, threw all manner of difficult questions at Kevin, who, in spite of it all, emerged with a clean bill of ethical health.  Thanks to Kevin and all the Dragons for an excellent debate. 

Inter-Livery Charity Clay Shoot 2022 – 18 & 19 May 2022

Pictured Clockwise from the top left. Peter Tero, Anders Kongsbak, Sabia Sultan and John Moore (non-Livery)

This year’s Inter-Livery shoot was held on the 18th and 19th of May at the Holland & Holland shooting ground in Northwood, Middlesex. The weather was gloriously sunny and dry, not always the case in

the past and the grounds looked fantastic as we all convened for breakfast and our briefing. Well over 400 guns took part, representing over 50 City Livery Companies from the ancient to the most recently formed organisations.  WCIT was well represented on the day by 3 full teams. 

The shoot, now in its 28th year,  was structured in the time honoured fashion – an 80 bird English Sporting layout over 10 stands (4 pairs each).  All manner of targets were thrown, simulating everything from driven pheasant to rising teal and bolting rabbits.  In addition, and perhaps the highlight for many,  is the four man, 80 bird flush emulating a drive over high trees.  80 clays are thrown over the guns in the space of two minutes with dedicated loaders allowing shooters to keep their focus on the targets.  As always it was an adrenaline rush and a great feature of the day.

This year a clever innovation was introduced in order to raise some extra money. Proceeds were donated to charities working with struggling retired gamekeepers and charities supporting the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. During the flush a random orange clay was sent out. If it was hit then the team were fined £40 each, to be split between those charities. Most teams played the game and shot the bird regardless of the fine and a large amount of money was raised on both days.

The event is an opportunity to experience a lovely day out with fellow Liverymen from a host of different companies, meeting new people and chatting to old friends whilst enjoying some good shooting and raising money for charity.

As expected WCTI did not achieve the higher scores, however apart from the obvious first place prizes, donations for charity are spread across participating teams and its pure luck to be allocated one.  The good news is that one of our teams was awarded a £500 donation to a charity of choice.  Of course this money will be passed to an organisation chosen by the WCIT.

All in all a great day was had by everyone in the awesome surroundings of Holland & Holland’s shooting grounds.  H&H are an old London gunmaker established in 1893 and there were some magnificent examples of their work on show in the gun room. 

Liveryman Nick Harris thanked the organisers for another successful and enjoyable day, noting the squad were looking forward to returning next year.

Murder, Medicine and Missionaries, Historic Whitechapel City Walk – 10 May 2022

After almost three years, it was good to be able to join Diane Burstein for another City Walk, this time for the twice cancelled tour of Whitechapel on Tuesday 10 May 2022. Sadly the numbers were not up to our usual standard, but the five of us, who accompanied her, thoroughly enjoyed her usual knowledgeable guidance around what turned out to be a fascinating locale.  

We met outside Whitechapel Station, proceeding from there past a huge street market, now mainly run by Bangladeshies, as the latest wave of immigrants to an area renowned for welcoming them and providing the background for development.  

Our next stop was a pub that was the haunt of the Kray Twins, followed by Trinity Green, a beautifully maintained set of what originally were almshouses for retired Trinity House pilots. Further along the street was the base from where William Booth joined the Mission which became the Salvation Army, with an amazing mural commissioned by a local solicitor for the 2012 Olympics, when the marathon was to pass that way.  

One of the re-developments is to become the Tower Hamlets Town Hall, leaving the facade of what was The London Hospital. Nearby is the current site of the Royal London Hospital, which has been redeveloped and climbing to the sky, with a helipad on top (it is part of the Barts Trust and since Barts does not have an A&E department, patients are flown in from the City). A statue of Queen Alexandra is positioned outside – she funded a new means of treatment for Lupus called the Finsen Light, although it proved not to be very successful.  

Other interesting features were the childhood home of Jack Cohen, who founded Tesco; an enormous porcupine-like structure representing a neuron nerve cell, which turned out to be a classroom for schoolchildren visiting the Blizard Laboratory; a former hostel for single men, with individual cabins (room for a bed and a chair, but walls not reaching the ceiling, so if you found your neighbour’s clothes were better than yours, you could lift them with a fishing rod!); Tayyabs, the best Punjabi food in London; and the Whitechapel Art Gallery. The Bell Foundry has now closed and is likely to become a hotel.  

We completed the evening with supper at The Hoop and Grapes opposite Aldgate Station.  

Industry Charity Dinner raises £25,000

In March 2022 the Industry Charity Fund-raising Dinner “Giving IT back” raised approximately £25,000 for the WCIT Charity.

Around 100 guests had a fun evening of entertainment, magic, music, raffle, and auctions in the magnificent Drapers’ Hall in London.

Charles Hanson, the TV auctioneer, ran the live auction on the night and the Guitars of DUO brought lively musical interludes of familiar tunes played in a style fusing flamenco, pop and classical music.

The main sponsors of the dinner were Triad Group Plc and Sophos Cybersecurity.

In addition to money raised for the WCIT Charity, money was pledged to purchase several chrome books for the Hammersmith Academy and Lilian Baylis Technology School.

WCIT Charity supports the first woman professor of IT at Gresham College

Gresham College has announced the appointment of Dr Victoria Baines as IT Livery Company Professor of IT Gresham College. The professorship was established in 2015 and is sponsored by the WCIT Charity. 

As the third professor of IT, Professor Baines will continue the 425-year-old tradition of delivering free lectures aimed at the public within the City of London and beyond. Gresham College live streams lectures online and delivers them to physical audiences in London, plus there are more than 3,000 past lectures freely available on the college’s website.  

Professor Baines is a leading authority in the field of online trust, safety and cybersecurity. Her first lecture series will be on the cyber human, with talks covering topics such as how to fight fake news and what the metaverse is. Commenting on the appointment, the CEO of Gresham College, Dr Wendy Piatt, said “cybersecurity is critical at this time and these lectures will shed light on some really key debates around the internet and digital diplomacy.” 

Data Centres: Fact, Fiction and a Way Ahead – 28 April 2022

On 28 April, the Government Panel and the IT and Climate Change Working Group held a joint dinner in Information Technologists’ Hall.

The guest speaker was Emma Fryer, who until very recently managed the UK Council of Data Centre Operators and techUK’s Data Centres Technical Committee. Her talk was both knowledgeable and witty; taking us on a journey of discovery of data centre myths and realities. She started with the different types of data centre and their possible impact on the environment, giving a delightful analogy with the mass of mosquitoes (most of IT) and elephants (data centres) – which is the heavier? She also wove fairy tales into her narrative (Rumpelstiltskin) and even the zombie apocalypse. 

Key takeaways were that data centres were somewhere between 20 and 25% of the total energy consumption of ICT and that growth in their power consumption has flatlined since 2013. They are obviously growing in number, so good progress in efficiency. However there is a lot of uncertainty, with little research on understanding data centre power consumption. Performance of public sector data centres is largely unknown, with systems buried in layers of IT and not separately reported on.

Emma highlighted the rebound effect (aka Jevon’s paradox) that as we increase the efficiency of a process we invariably use more of it.  In defence of data centres, they have perhaps been unfairly singled out as the visible part of IT’s global warming impact.

A lively Q&A followed where we learned that new projects are collocating data centres with renewable power and recycling heat into the local area. There is also a need to inform and influence Government policy.

A final thought was on the social value if data centres, with Bitcoin very much in mind.

Sheriffs’ Challenge Finalists 2021: Tea in the judges room at the Old Bailey – 21 April 2022

21st April 2022 was a celebratory occasion for the two 2021 Sheriffs’ Challenge finalist teams.  They had to compete virtually  last year because of lockdown, instead of at the Old Bailey as would normally be the case.  As recompense they were invited for tea and a tour of the Old Bailey by HHJ Sarah Munro.

The finalist schools: Kings College London Maths School, with teacher David Hobbs and the Actuaries’ Livery Lead Greg Lugisani, and Lilian Baylis Technology College, with the teacher Athina Inneh and Information Technologists’ Livery Lead David Barker, with HHJ Sarah Munro and Aldermanic Sheriff Alison Gowman.

Judge Sarah Munro and Sheriff Gowman are actively engaged with philanthropic work in the City of London to support young people.  They spoke with fervour about encouraging gender and ethnic equality into the professions, efforts to prevent young people being sucked into a life of criminality and that these sixth-formers are the trail-blazers for the future: 

“You can do anything; don’t let the only person holding you back be yourself.”

Many thanks to Judge Munro and Sheriff Gowman for their time and commitment to this event.

Dr Anne Punter, Lower Warden, Worshipful Company of Educators