Talk About Local Blog

How Sadiq Khan can make the London administration…

Sadiq Khan said ‘I am determined to lead the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen’ in the opening words of his speech at swearing in.  I’ve been working on transparency for ten years now, much of it London focused – how could London’s new mayor go about it? Here’s some quick practical suggestions: Declaration to staff and Assembly – The Mayor should set out a succinct and unarguable statement to all staff that he wants them to be transparent.  And to the Assembly something along the lines...

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Google Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund winner –…

We are delighted that Google has made us an offer of funding under the Digital News Initiative for our Local News Engine prototype.  Local News Engine (which I have written about in detail here) will mine local public data for leads for local news stories and produce reports customised to fit in with a journalists workflow. Local News Engine aims to help hard pressed local journalists, bloggers etc improve or maintain local scrutiny in the face of scarce or diminishing resources.   We plan to bring in the outstanding coding talent...

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ANPR – Met Police explain the ‘Olympic Feed’…

Since writing about ANPR towards the end of last year I have had a constructive dialogue with police officers about the operation of ANPR.  I wrote to Bernard Hogan-Howe in November and today received a reply from the officer in charge about the ‘Olympic Feed’, which I am publishing below.  I shall write further when i have digested it. > Dear Mr Perrin   Thank you for your letter to the Commissioner about ANPR, dated 27th November 2015, which I have been asked to deal with. I apologise for the...

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How blockchain will solve #hyperlocal problems

It won’t.  Move along now, nothing to see here.

‘UK Digital Strategy – the next frontier in…

In the dead of the Xmas period proving that neither electrons nor Ministers sleep the irrepressible Ed Vaizey asked for contributions to a digital strategy for the ‘next frontier’ of the UK’s ‘digital revolution’. I am not sure revolutions have frontiers as much as fronts, but putting this to one side and dimly recalling that i was involved in the original 2009 digital Britain work I thought it worth putting something in to help the new digital revolution turn out better than the last one. Digital Britain Strategy – submission from...

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ANPR – towards a regulatory structure for probably…

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition system in the UK requires a governance structure to ensure its safe and legal operation as a crime and terrorism fighting tool.  My conversations with senior police operating the system suggests that they would welcome a proportionate modern system of governance and regulation.  The new Investigatory Powers Bill reveals a strange lacuna around ANPR, a system that I think the bill’s draftsmen simply forgot about when designing the new Investigatory Powers regime.   With any intelligence agency use of ANPR remaining unavowed and unspecified in...

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Do the intelligence agencies also have a record…

In this self explanatory letter, I ask the Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter whether the proposed new category of ‘Bulk Personal Dataset’ applies to ANPR and whether the intelligence agencies have a copy of all our journey data as part of the 10 billion reads a year ANPR system.  If this were to be the case then, paradoxically it would provide for the first time some strong statutory oversight of ANPR, albeit only for a copy of it, not the original system itself. This is part of my continuing work...

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OFCOM numbers on independent local web news –…

The latest OFCOM data is out on news consumption in the UK.  On a quick look local independent web news is a small part of the market at 3% but punching vastly above its weight when one considers the hundreds of millions, even billions of pounds being spent by traditional media companies and the BBC.

Towards a ‘Local News Engine’ #opendata

Weekly lists of local civic information (law courts, planning, licensing of alcohol, entertainment, adult, gambling etc) are a strong source of story leads for local journalists of all types. These lists can be over 500 pages long, requiring patience, detailed local knowledge and much time and coffee to read.  The lists are largely computer-created but have hitherto resisted automated extraction of newsworthy data.  If this process could be automated, even in part  newsroom productivity and public interest scrutiny could increase. Almost everyone I speak to about these lists rolls their...

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Easy augmented reality for your publication – a…

The New York Times experiment with Google has put remarkable augmented and virtual reality technologies centre stage for publishers. The tech never fails to startle, even though the NYT approach is quite clunky using expensive bespoke videos and ‘Google Cardboard’.  Talk About Local has a much easier and cheaper way to get your content into augmented reality on Android and iOS devices – your readers just need their phone or tablet.  As the reader holds the device up in front of them they see icons floating in the camera view corresponding to...

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