Robo-journalists find pay is better in financial services

There has been lots of coverage of robo-journalists, software that can produce journalism without minimal human involvement. It’s almost as if journalists are worried or something.

I can offer some reassurance: the kind of journalism based on doing research, talking to lots of people and thinking about it is probably safe for the time being. (We may have problems with the dawn of full, strong artificial intelligence, sometimes known as the Technological Singularity. Those problems may go a bit beyond journalists facing a lack of work.) Continue reading

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Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects has published my article on Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s problems bringing in eHospital, a £200m IT system based around software from Epic and hardware from HP. While the trust initially reported all was going well, eHospital has recently been fingered by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission as contributing to the trust’s problems.

I spoke to a number of people with knowledge of eHospital, including this former IT employee of the trust who spoke on condition of anonymity: Continue reading

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Mapping urban health challenges for the Guardian with Mapbox

As a follow-up to the article I wrote last month on health, data and cities, Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network has today published a piece by me on future threats to urban health. I got great ideas from the World Health Organisation, the UN University International Institute for Global Health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the New York Academy of Medicine. You can read the article here.

I was also commissioned to produce interactive mapping for the article, showing a selection of the cities under threat and some that have developed innovative ways to tackle these problems. I used Mapbox to develop the mapping, given its choice of basemaps, marker symbols and colours and my experience in using it to produce new maps for this site.

Continue reading

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Genomics and big data; and I ♥ Milton Keynes

I attended a recent conference run by the Sanger Institute and supplier DDN on genomics and big data, which involved a visit to the Sanger’s famous laboratories and data centre. Genomics could produce between two and 40 exabytes of data annually by 2025; astronomy, which churns out data, is expected to produce just one exabyte. A decent-sized PC hard-drive holds a terabyte of data, roughly a million megabytes; an exabyte is roughly a million terabytes. A lot. The resulting article for is here.

The massive scale of genomics data is forcing those providing its IT to rediscover old efficiency techniques. It is also seeing institutions working to upgrade their facilities. This includes University of Oxford, which is working on a new Big Data Institute near the city’s hospitals in Headington. Continue reading

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Decode a GB postcode with Postcode-decode

As a development of my recent work on online maps, I have built Postcode-decode, an online service which tells you interesting stuff about any Great Britain postcode.

Instructions: type in a postcode for a location in England, Scotland or Wales (with or without the space, in capitals or lower case), and hit Decode it. That’s it. Try it here.

Most of the data, as well as the map, is courtesy of Ordnance Survey’s OpenSpace API. (It’s great to see Ordnance Survey offering so much open data, given where it’s come from.) The calculations for longitude, latitude and distance are made by Jonathan Stott’s PHPCoord code, which is his copyright and available under the GNU General Public License. Westminster constituency data (which Ordnance Survey could consider putting into a future version of OpenSpace) comes from MySociety. Continue reading

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