Press Office


On cloud nine


Newcastle University has secured £2m to develop a state-of-the-art Cloud Computing Centre.

The new centre, which has been funded as part of a £6m Government investment to improve broadband connectivity across Newcastle, will be an integral part of the University’s operation on Science Central.

Initially based in Claremont Tower, the Cloud Computing Centre will ultimately be moved to the old brewery site in the heart of Newcastle city centre along with the School of Computing Science.

Using private and public cloud resources for learning and development, the aim is to bring together industry, the public sector and academia to boost innovation and skills across the region.

Newcastle University’s Barry Hodgson, who is leading on the project, explained: "The Cloud Centre offers us a unique opportunity to gather and analyse huge amounts of data much more quickly and present them in a way that is meaningful to the customer.

“For example, a trial is already underway to issue patients with wrist sensors which log their daily activity and sleep patterns.

“In the past, doctors have relied on patients filling in their own diaries which is time consuming and often inaccurate.  But using the cloud centre, the data collected by the sensors over a period of weeks can now be downloaded, analysed and presented to the Consultant and their patient in a meaningful format within minutes while the patient is sat in the waiting room.

“The centre will also act as a test-bed for us to develop new applications and services by extracting more value from massive data sets, it provides training opportunities to fill the skills gap we currently have in this highly-specialised but rapidly growing area and in turn builds on our world-leading reputation in cloud computing and big data.”

The cloud centre is part of a bigger drive to improve wireless and Wi-Fi in Newcastle, such as improving connectivity on the Metro allowing much faster internet connections for passengers throughout their journey.

Backed by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the £2m for the Cloud Centre includes £1m of matched funding by the University.

Small and medium sized businesses will also be able to apply to the council for up to £3m worth of vouchers to pay for the installation of Next Generation Access (NGA) Broadband.  Around £1m will be invested in improving wireless access to the internet particularly in public buildings and in the City Centre and on district high streets.

Leader of Newcastle City Council Cllr Nick Forbes said: “Over 40,000 adults in Newcastle have never used the internet so I am delighted that we have secured this funding to get more people connected to the web.
“The internet is a vital part of the life blood of our city giving people access to a wide range of opportunities and services – often more cheaply – not to mention the freedom to shop online and communicate through e-mail and skype.
“Getting everyone connected is a real challenge but it is something we are determined to do - not through coercion but - by demonstrating the benefits.”

published on: 4 July 2013