Honour for man who has dedicated his life to information management
BRNGING data together and finding a way to make systems talk to each other is something that Dr Matthew West has been doing his entire life.
Dr West, from Whiteley, had a long career at Shell, spent solving the problem of different data sets across different operating systems not working together.
Even when he retired in 2008, his life was consumed by data, setting up his own company called Information Junction, then in 2016 he was called up to work for the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure by the government.
Now the 68-year old’s work has received one of the highest honours, as he was made an Order of the British Empire for services to information management in business.
Dr West, a married father of two and grandfather of two, said: ‘I feel a bit of imposter syndrome, particularly as the kind of work that I do, you are always a member of a team. If you are singled out it gives you mixed feelings, but it is good that someone from the team has been recognised. It makes clear that the work that’s being done is seen as critical and important, which is very encouraging.
‘Of course I am proud to have been given this award, it was not something I was expecting.’
Dr West, who was born in Harrow and moved to Whiteley as one of the town’s first residents in 1991, has extensive experience in information management, including working on the National Digital Twin Programme run by the Centre for Digital Built Britain.
The programme was set up by HM Treasury in 2018 to improve how infrastructure is built, managed and operated through high-quality, secure data.
Dr West, who studied chemical engineering at the University of Leeds, said he sees no sign of his work slowing down, as the importance of managing information correctly and efficiently is becoming more widely accepted.
He said: ‘For example, with the Grenfell Tower disaster. The next day everyone wanted to know what towers blocks had the same kind of cladding.
‘It took three months to answer that question but it would’ve been able to have been answered within 30 minutes if the information had been handled properly. With sufficient information, it would also have made it harder for this kind of mistake to happen in the first place.’