The Oscars of the IT industry

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Last week, the British Computer Society honoured Britain's best information technology projects at an awards ceremony at the Cafe Royal, London. Presenting 11 top project teams with medals and certificates, Chris Earnshaw, managing director of BT Systems & Networks, described them as the "Oscars of the software industry".

One of three special trophy-winners was Sibelius 7, a music-processing system, brainchild of identical twins Jonathan and Ben Finn.

"Sibelius is for anyone who writes music," said Jonathan Finn. "The film, TV and music publishing industries can produce scores quicker and cheaper than before."

Sibelius is also used by many amateur musicians, from choirmasters to students in music colleges. Many primary schools use the pounds 49 entry- level version of the program, which runs on Acorn computers.

Microcosm Plus, a hypermedia system for creating, browsing and querying large collections of documents, was also given a special award. "What is unique about Microcosm," said Roger Rowe, technical director of Multicosm, a company spun off from Southampton University, "is that it lets you link together existing documents to produce hypertext."

Brown University in the United States, one of the originators of hypertext, has adopted Microcosm for its scholastic systems. Multicosm is also in discussion with large engineering companies interested in using the system to link up disparate databases to form corporate intranets.

The third trophy went to Inca, BT's Inter-Network Call Accounting system. "It's a very important system for BT," explained Chris Steel, a senior developer with BT Systems & Networks. "It helps us to manage our relationship with the other operators in the UK interconnect market."

Inca can process up to 60 million individual call records every day. BT has had interest in Inca not only from telecoms companies such as France Telecom, GTE and Telstra but also from the Istanbul Stock Exchange, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Swiss Railways.

Other BCS medallists included Intelligent Prosthesis Plus, a microprocessor- controlled unit that adjusts the swing of an artificial limb according to walking speed.

The Scottish College of Textiles displayed the output from its ScotWeave fabric design software in the form of a BCS Awards tartan produced for the occasion.

Other awards went to Clicker Plus, which allows computer input from severely disabled people; Mavis, a program that measures wounds; Questar, which analyses sleep disorders; Peritas Online, an interactive Internet-based training service; the Pindar Catalogue Management System, whichproduces promotional materials; and Index+, which develops text and multimedia information systems.

Over their 24 years of existence, the BCS Awards have become Britain's most prestigious recognition of IT. The ever-higher standard of projects nominated for an award makes the judges' task increasingly difficult