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

Information Security Panel Dinner – 23 March 2022

As one of the four pillars of the WCIT, fellowship is very important to the Information Security Panel. In response to the pandemic restrictions of 2020, we supplemented our formal quarterly meetings with monthly online meetings intended primarily to help members continue to feel connected and update each other on their various activities. The Panel also has the singular distinction of enjoying the very last dinner in the WCIT Hall before the first lockdown, and the very first after restrictions were lifted in September 2021. 

Returning to its usual Spring schedule, the Panel hosted its 2022 dinner on 23rd March. The guest speaker was investigative journalist Geoff White, co-host of the Lazarus Heist podcast, the UK’s Number One podcast with a staggering 8 million listeners, and author of the forthcoming book of the same name. Geoff entertained and informed with tales of the exploits of the Lazarus Group of cybercriminals, reported to have stolen many millions of US dollars from banks around the world, and to be responsible for some of the highest profile cyber-attacks in recent years. Geoff’s extensive research and thought-provoking consideration of what can be done both to prevent and combat cybercrime prompted a lively and very productive discussion, with many of our members bringing their own professional expertise to bear on the subject. 

In addition to Panel members and their guests, we also welcomed a number of prospective freemen and journeymen. Ticket sales and a raffle on the night raised a very handsome £900 for the WCIT Charity. 

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.” 
 

SHERIFFS’ CHALLENGE FINALISTS 2021: TEA IN THE JUDGES’ DINING ROOM AT THE OLD BAILEY

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.

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.

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

Celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 at the WCIT – 8 March 2022

WCIT members have come together to show our commitment to IWD by striking the #BreakTheBias pose (the IWD 2022 theme), calling out bias, smashing stereotypes, breaking inequality, and rejecting discrimination. Happy International Women’s Day 2022!

Guild of Young Freeman Young Livery Inter-Livery Quiz – 11 February 2022

WCIT put together a stellar team of intellects for the Guild of Young Freemen Young Livery Inter-Livery Quiz. The stunning six stepping up to the plate were made up of Tamzin Kerslake, Byron Glover, Alex Arnold, Elliot Brooks and two guests Jess Herbert and Ben Platten. Together, they were the Worshipful Company of the Partially Informed.

Hosted in Bakers’ Hall, they battled angry anagrams, came head to head with some cruel cryptic crossword clues, and triumphed in the music round with a very eclectic taste between the team.

With only one question contested regarding the technically of a ‘Password’ versus a ‘Passcode’, our heroic squad stumbled into a rather respectful joint fifth position. It went unmentioned that the Young Freemen and the Hosts took podium positions, but they graciously tipped their hats to the winners, the Coopers, and drowned their sorrows in The Hung, Drawn and Quartered – promising to be back next year with vengeance.

A huge thank you to the Worshipful Company of Bakers, the Guild of Young Freemen and Quiz Coconut for a wonderful evening.

New Freemen’s Dinner – 16 February 2022

On Wednesday 16 February, one of the best-loved events of the WCIT calendar year took place – the New Freemen’s Dinner.  The purpose of the New Freemen’s Dinner is to welcome those who have joined the Company in the past year (or in this case the past two years as COVID had cancelled last year’s dinner).  The evening is an opportunity to get all new Freemen up to speed with the guidelines and traditions involved in a traditional City dinner, from a sung grace to the ever-popular Loving Cup ceremony, now in its more COVID-suitable format.  Past Master Stefan Fafinski did a stellar job of stepping in and explaining the Rose Water ceremony – complete with “bunny ears”, and the traditional toast by a chosen New Freeman was beautifully delivered by Suzanne Harkins.  The evening was rounded off with an entertaining after-dinner speech given by Alderman and Sheriff Nicholas Lyons.  Our own dear Beadle was back to full strength after his encounter with the pandemic, completing his duties with even more gusto than usual – many mentioned their ears continued to ring in the taxi cab home!

Student visit to WCIT – 8 February 2022

Members of WCIT were delighted to welcome students from the Lilian Baylis Technology School to the Information Technologists’ Hall on February 8.

28 pupils from Year 9 enjoyed a two-course lunch at the Hall, where they had the opportunity to discuss careers and routes into IT with WCIT members.

As a former student of the school himself, Court Assistant Steve Smith was pleased to host the event: “I always see these events as a longer term investment. You rarely know if the event has had a positive impact, but we are sowing seeds. Today I experienced one of those rare moments and was delighted to hear a student tell his teacher that he felt inspired by the breakout session and is now really interested in a career in IT.”

Later in the day, a dozen 6th form students – all of whom are studying an IT-related course – took turns to present their thoughts about how remote learning during the pandemic had changed the way they collaborated with others. They were also asked to consider how technology could make hybrid working for businesses most effective. Their presentations were made during a three-course dinner hosted by Liveryman and Chair of the Charitable Operations Committee, Richard Pone.

Richard, who is also a Governor for the Lilian Baylis Technology School, was impressed with the standard of presentations. “The students were thoughtful, articulate, and challenging in presenting their views, and were utterly engaging in the Q&A session. The future is in good hands.”

Both the lunch and dinner were funded by the WCIT Charity, which also supports students from the Hammersmith Academy.

109th Business Lunch – 26 January 2022

A sold out 109th Business Luncheon, held at Founder’s Hall, was a celebratory event reflective of the partnership between Lifelites and the WCIT. The event was full of buzz as many attendees shared how pleased they were to attend a face-to-face event and the opportunity to network and catch up with members whom they had not seen since prior to the pandemic. Speaker Simone Enefer-Day delivered a powerful message as she hands over as Chief Executive after 15 years including several emotional stories of how technology can help children and their families within hospices, reminding all who attended of the positive impact we as technologists can make.