By @SimonCocking. Mike Hinchey is an Irish computer scientist and Director at the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, a multi-university research centre headquarted at the University of Limerick, Ireland, see more here.

Your background briefly?

I am a computer scientist / software engineer, I grew up in Ireland, educated here, and then in the UK, then worked in US, then Australia, and then received a presidential appointment at NASA, to be director of NASA software engineering lab. I then moved back to Ireland, as Co-Director and later Director of Lero-the Irish Software Research Centre, an SFI funded national centre.

How did you end up in your current position? As a software expert it’s great but unusual to be also involved in an initiative like this?

IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing) was created in 1960 by UNESCO, to be an association of associations, with national computer societies from around the world. Each country has had one member up to now. It was set up with the goal to advance ICT. It comprises of a technical assembly, which addresses technical issues, and a General Assembly of all national numbers, and has an emphasis on education, and developing countries.

witfor
WITFOR is a regular event, taking place every two to three years, as a world IT forum, considering socio- economic issues. It is usually held in a less developed country. In September it will be in Costa Rica, whose national government are actively supporting the event.

For those that don’t know what is WITFOR and IFIP, and what do they do? How can / will they help advance the UN’s SDG’s?

By bringing together lots of experts, educators, and technical people this helps to get good cross sector insights into possible solutions. It is important for more for people to be engaged in these initiatives, and to try to consider climate change issues and smart cities as related questions. All of the UN’s SDGs (sustainable development goals) need good IT.
Smart cities for example, won’t work without good IT. Telecoms, education and gender equality are all needed, and can be helped by getting everyone together into the same room.

What is happening in September?

This is a forum to bring together expertise that might not normally be in the same room, e.g. the smart cities, gender equality, and clean water activists. It is a forum, and it is open to the public, so people can engage and come and discuss the issues and possible solutions.

Can we be optimistic about humanities ability to achieve these goals before the impacts of global warming etc have increasingly serious impacts?

I think so, the UN goal is for 2030. We may not exactly have achieved them all, but we’ll be close by then, we’ll have made significant progress toward these goals.

Which people are your sources of inspiration?

Technical achievers, for what they have done, and want to do something similar, software has made a difference, and is undervalued, especially to write good code, and world leaders too.

What positive examples do you use to illustrate that we can hope for a positive resolution to these challenges?

It’s hard to say, we’ve used this event to bring people in to engage with these challenges. For example by having previous events in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Gaborone, Botswana, this helps to get the host nation involved and have a good impact. I hope we can solve everything by bringing a lot of people together, a diverse selection, and we should aim to try to achieve big challenging goals.


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