The Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector plays a very significant role in Ireland and other countries. In Ireland, this sector comprises more than a thousand organisations ranging from multinationals to start-up companies. Up to 60% of ICT activity in Ireland is communications related including wireless applications, infrastructure and telecommunications.
Recent years, however, have seen changes within these industries that could result in lower value activities moving to low cost countries. The best way to counter this, from an Irish perspective, is to create higher value-added jobs in ICT and in converged communications research in particular. The increased level of public investment in ICT research and development in recent years, mainly by Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, has been motivated by this strategic goal.
At the heart of the profound change in the ICT sector is the convergence of telecommunications and Internet technologies and the emergence of large-scale, open networks that can provide all kinds of services. The telephone service is becoming just one of several available, and all these services are being provided increasingly over the Internet. People want so-called pervasive presence the ability to be connected wherever and whenever they choose, regardless of location. To facilitate this, we will progressively see computing and communications facilities embedded into our smart homes, cars and shared public spaces. At the same time, we will want to protect our privacy and to trust the security of communications and transactions we make using this emerging infrastructure.
Recognising these trends, Waterford Institute of Technology has offered, since September 2005, a taught MSc in Computing that specialises in Communications Software. This MSc specifically addresses the major thematic areas of the ICT sector that are perceived to offer best prospects for growth, particularly in an Irish context. These areas include communications management, service development, security and new developments in ubiquitous and pervasive computing.
This MSc programme is very closely linked to the highly successful Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at WIT. The TSSG was founded in 1996 within the Department of Computing, Mathematics & Physics at WIT and has grown to be one of the largest and most successful research centres in Ireland, employing over 150 people. The TSSG is entirely self-financing and competes successfully for funding at national and international level, with total funding to date of approximately 40 million and a total of 35 currently active projects (at time of writing).