Senior Research Associate, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
Government secondee, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
As a computer scientist with some background in law, I have long been interested in issues of technology-related policy. Seeking to be more involved in the tech-policy discussion, I jumped at the opportunity offered by CSaP for a secondment with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
I am currently working for the Secretariat of the E-Infrastructure Leadership Council, which is charged with formulating a national strategy for leveraging the developments in big data, computing architectures and evolving scientific models. The goal is to provide a rich “e-infrastructure ecosystem” that fosters innovation, and thus drives jobs and growth.
The work is both interesting and diverse. The Council's remit is wide, advising on all aspects of e-infrastructure, including high-end computing, networking and data infrastructures, software development and sustainability, cyber security, industrial engagement, and education, training and skills. My tasks include authoring reports (internal and public), preparing ministerial briefings, contributing to strategy meetings and consultations, and managing interactions between industry, government and academia.
Every aspect involves working with interesting and impressive people, from a range of backgrounds and viewpoints. I was particularly surprised by how quickly things move; for instance, the Council has realised several “on-ramp centres” – to help industry exploit e-infrastructure – in only a matter of months.
I am thoroughly enjoying the secondment, and have gained much from experiencing the policy process first-hand. Indeed, I am also participating in this year's Royal Society Pairing Scheme, with Dr Julian Huppert MP, to experience the policy world from the parliamentary perspective.