In yet another exciting programme to discover and foster the latest upcoming talent in IT, thriving technology company Kainos has announced the fruits of Code4Derry, a student programme run over the summer in Londonderry in Northern Ireland. The project, to create an online tool to help locals and visitors take advantage of the city’s Wireless City facility, sought out bright computer science students from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster to produce a live service for a real client, Derry City Council.
Kainos is well known for its innovative schemes to harness raw IT talent. Other initiatives include the annual AppCamp (http://appcamp.co.uk/), where UK and Irish university students are invited to develop apps for iPhone/iPad or iPod Touch devices. After a free two-week crash course with Kainos’s iOS specialists to give them the necessary skills, the students are challenged to build and bring to market their own apps in competition with each other, with full support from Kainos.
The current Code4Derry programme is the brainchild of Kainos’s CTO Tom Gray and is the first scheme to bring together industry, university and council in an initiative of this kind. In this case, the development environment was based on Open Source Software. The project also harnessed an agile development ‘Scrum’ methodology, to ensure rapid, collaborative development alongside the client, Derry City Council.
The resulting web tool, the Wireless City online map, was unveiled by the city’s mayor, Councillor Kevin Campbell, earlier this month and is available now through the www.wirelessderry.com web site.
The mayor congratulated Kainos on conceiving and facilitating the project which he said had “resulted in a high-end online product which is sure to serve the business community and local users well.” He continued: “This project clearly outlines how our local graduates can work with the support of the private sector and local government to develop a product that provides a mutually beneficial service for the city. Not only do the students involved gain essential experience, but the project also has provided them with a confidence-building opportunity and core skills which in turn will make them favourable candidates for employment in the future.”
The initiative is closely aligned with the aims of the UK Government’s Government Digital Service, designed to transform government digital services. In particular it showcases the important and highly relevant role played by open source and agile development techniques in delivering improvements quickly and efficiently, according to Brendan Mooney, Kainos’s CEO. “This project illustrates how local government, the private sector and local universities can collaborate and deliver a meaningful project in just a few short weeks – and at no cost to the tax payer,” he said.
The www.wirelessderry.com website also provides the opportunity for local businesses to promote their own WiFi services.
On Kainos’s contribution to the scheme, the company’s CTO Tom Gray added, “Derry’s ambitions as a city are to be applauded and have a lot to show other cities and districts about what’s possible. We are delighted to have provided direct support to the Wireless City initiative and hope to initiate similar programmes across the UK in future – again by harnessing emerging talent. This gives students valuable first-hand commercial experience and a chance to become involved in civic-minded projects. Kainos is a firm believer in encouraging social entrepreneurship and this project has marked a real coming together of people with mutual interests to work towards something bigger.”