Paul Bradshaw

Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Help Me Investigate teams up with Birmingham Mail on regional datablog

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2013 at 8:47 am

Help Me Investigate has teamed up with the Birmingham Mail on new project Behind The Numbers, looking at stories in local data.

The first story, a collaboration between Mail reporter Katy Hallam and Help Me Investigate’s Paul Bradshaw, was published in the newspaper Friday.

It looked at hourly Accident and Emergency data to find out which were the worst and best hours to be seen in the region’s A&E units

As well as new reports the section will also publish the numbers behind stories in the newspaper and sister title The Birmingham Post, as well as wider statistics around the West Midlands region. 

Anyone can contribute to the site, including Help Me Investigate users. It is hoped the project will stimulate more work on data projects in the region, and more opportunities for journalistic scrutiny.

You can read more about the new project in this introductory article. You can also read how the story was put together – and how you can repeat it in your own area – in this background post on Help Me Investigate Health.

New YouTube playlist of investigative journalism videos

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Dutch-Flemish investigative journalism network?VVOJ Medialab?has launched an English video?channel?containing interviews with Seymour Hersh and the New York Times's Andy Lehren, along with guides to Facebook's new research tool and data journalism.

Turning documents into data: DocHive

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

For a while now the Raleigh Public Record have been working on a promising tool for converting documents to data. Now they have announced that a beta version is due out in time for the NICAR conference at the end of February.

What’s particularly promising about this tool is that it works with images – not, as is currently the case with most PDF conversion tools, metadata or embedded data. They write:

Here’s how it works: the program converts the PDF into an image file usingImageMagick, then uses a template to break a page up into smaller sections.

For example, in the campaign finance documents, DocHive will make separate sections for donor name, occupation, donation amount and all the other fields. Then, the program will take each of those sections and turn it into a separate image file.

The software takes that small image and uses optical character recognition technology to read the words or numbers and insert them into a CSV file.

They are also looking for people with “tricky document sets” to help test DocHive and people who want to help “test or prepare the new program for release.”

If you’re interested in either, email the development team ateditor@raleighpublicrecord.org

How-to: Mapping planning applications

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2013 at 9:26 am

Sid Ryan wanted to see if planning applications near planning committee members were more or less likely to be accepted. Here’s the first part of how he did it (a second part – on researching people – here):

While researching Hammersmith and Fulham councillors’ registers of interest for a feature, I began looking into the council’s planning applications database.

By joining up the council’s data and presenting it on a simple map I could show the building hotspots and make accessing public data much easier, even if I didn’t find the undue influence by councillors I was looking for.

Below is a guide to making the map itself, and another post to follow will go through adding the councillors details and researching them using public records. Read the rest of this entry »

How-to: Mapping planning applications

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

Sid Ryan wanted to see if planning applications near planning committee members were more or less likely to be accepted. Here’s how he did it:

While researching Hammersmith and Fulham councillors’ registers of interest for a feature, I began looking into the council’s planning applications database.

By joining up the council’s data and presenting it on a simple map I could show the building hotspots and make accessing public data much easier, even if I didn’t find the undue influence by councillors I was looking for.

Below is a guide to making the map itself, and another post to follow will go through adding the councillors details and researching them using public records. Read the rest of this entry »

HMI in 2012 – and 2013

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Time for an update on what’s happening across the Help Me Investigate network – and if you want to join in.

Help Me Investigate Health has been very active. Alex Plough has been looking at CCGs: the new bodies which will control £60bn of health spending from April. To that end we’ve compiled a list of emails if you want to FOI those new bodies, as well as details on CCG websitesuseful Twitter accounts and news feeds to follow, and various other pieces of information. Thanks to Celia Seymour, Duarte Romero, Jason Cobb, Carl Plant, Tony Hirst and others for chipping in.

In March we’re also organising an event in Birmingham on reporting the new health system. If you want to come, let me know.

Help Me Investigate the Olympics continues to scrutinise the Olympic torch relay – Carol Miers and Juliet Ferguson have been digging into one particularly interesting question and we hope to have the results of that early in 2013. If you want to get involved, get in touch.

Congratulations to Ben Harrow of Help Me Investigate Education and Chie Elliott of Help Me Investigate Welfare, who both landed new jobs this year, Ben’s in particular as a direct result of work on HMI. 

As a result, both Help Me Investigate Education and Help Me Investigate Welfare are looking for new editors at the moment. The response so far has been great, but if you want to help people find out more about either of those fields, get in touch.