What is Information Science?

Information science has a focus on the way information is used pragmatically in all the various contexts of human and technical activity. Its domain is the entire field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the way this technology is designed, developed, and managed to produce, store, manipulate, and disseminate information. Because information is fundamentally connected with the way we interact with people and things in the world, information processing is increasingly embedded intimately in all the real-world processes that are distributed throughout our environment.

The fundamental nature of information science has led to its being offered as a major discipline at the University of Otago within the Division of Sciences (BSc degree), Division of Humanities (BA degree), and the School of Business (BCom degree). Within the School of Business, Information Science is part of the core degree requirements, and a basic understanding of information science is required of all BCom degree recipients. Information Science subjects are also required components of both the Telecommunications and the Software Engineering BAppSc degree programmes in Applied Science. Because of the exciting range of opportunities and technical challenges offered by new developments in the field of information science, the Information Science Department takes pride in the fact that women make up a significant proportion of its staff and students.

The current Information Science Department faculty at the University of Otago have established an international reputation for research across a range of information science subjects, including

  • application software development and software engineering
  • distributed information systems technology, including wireless and mobile applications
  • advanced database system development and technology
  • applications of artificial intelligence, evolutionary computing, and spatial systems
  • multimedia systems and human-computer interfaces
  • information systems reliability, security, and privacy
  • social networking and organisational computing
  • health informatics

As part of its involvement with commercial development activities, the department manages the Otago Next Generation Networks and Services (ONGENS) Testbed Laboratory, through which it engages with national and international ICT organisations concerned with the deployment and configuration of newly developed systems. The ONGENS laboratory and its activities were instrumental in the University of Otago being recently named a Sun Microsystems OpenSPARC Centre of Excellence, the first university outside of the United States of America to be so named.

For more information about the University of Otago Information Science Department teaching and research activities, please consult the following Web sites: