Liam Self

I’ve recently graduated from the University of East Anglia with a BSc in Computing Science and will be returning to UEA in September to study for an MSc in Advanced Computing Science.

During my placement at Suffolk County Council I have been working within the IT Department. This is my second time as an IT Intern at SCC and having gained experience in 2015 in a range of different areas and teams, from Business Analysis to Strategic Support, this year I’ve been based within the Digital Development team, where I have been working as a mobile app developer.

Over the last 12 weeks I have collaborated with the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service to develop a new mobile application for the service’s on-call firefighters. Given the limited time they have available while on duty, the app allows firefighters and operational staff to keep up to date with news, events and other important information via their personal mobile phones, without needing to access the Service’s intranet at a station. In addition, the app displays a real-time log of incidents across the county, which can help inform on-call staff as to whether they are likely to be called out.

 The project had been ongoing for a little while before I started, with an iPhone app partially completed. However, it was decided that we would start again from scratch and use a framework that allowed us to develop a single app that would work on both iOS and Android without having to write two separate applications in two different languages, a decision that allowed us to complete both apps within a couple of months.The project was certainly a challenge; having never developed a mobile app to completion before, and with little experience programming in C#, I spent the first couple of weeks focussing on learning the basics before beginning work on the project itself. Throughout the project, my manager was very supportive and provided help and assistance when I needed it, while giving me the freedom to work independently and manage my own time. During my internship I worked closely with the delivery manager for the project and key stakeholders from the Fire Service, meeting regularly to ensure that I delivered a finished product which was fit for purpose.

I have greatly enjoyed my time with Suffolk County Council. While initially quite a daunting task, I’ve loved the chance to work on a project that stands to provide real benefits to the fire service. The last 12 weeks have given me valuable experience, both technically and in applying my skills within a public sector environment. The experience and skills I have developed at SCC will also help a great deal with my Master’s dissertation, which I wish to centre around accessible user experience in mobile applications, with a focus on audio-based navigation technology for the visually impaired. Developing a mobile navigation app will be a major part of this and returning to university with experience in writing mobile apps for real customers will help with that greatly. Looking further forward, I am interested in continuing in academia, but my time at SCC has inspired me towards pursuing a career in the public sector in the longer term.