Over the last sprint I was fortunate to be interviewed by Harvey Nash as part of their Technologists in the Spotlight series, which was great. The team also said goodbye to @MartinSpain, our excellent UI developer who has moved on to a new challenge.
All this aside we’ve been working on a few things that we’ll blog about in the next week or so, including using IP enabled sensors to track office temperature and monitoring if we’ve been sat still in our chairs (creating great software…) for too long so we are sure to take a break and stretch our legs. Really pleasant change from more traditional development and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about it soon.
Our work on digitising production of the Commons Order Paper continues apace with a business trial of the first phase of work taking place before summer recess. It’s been the first large scale project the team has worked on and we are looking forward to hearing feedback from the users – a number of blog posts on how we’ve built this system will appear over the summer.
Our Members Data Portal goes from strength to strength. This sprint we’ve added the ability to search debates and divisions by title for when you don’t know exactly when something happened, or perhaps when you want to know how often a debate on a topic takes place (finance debates happen a lot!). Debates are searchable by contributing member and divisions by majority. You can access this via a new tab control on the calendar pickers on both the debate and the division data screens.
Division results now include some simple visualisations to show the split of the vote by party (correct colours to follow!), and we’ve also included some charts on the historical membership pages to show house makeup on any given date.
Debate feeds are now easier to browse through thanks to a simple forward/back navigator tool, and we’ve added a list at the start of each debate of all the contributors.
But perhaps most excitingly of all, we now link debate content to the accompanying video feed hosted by ParliamentLive.tv. Hansard record timestamps throughout the day, including at every division, and we’ve been able to hook our feed directly to the timecode in the video feed for the debate. Right now this will only work on laptops/PCs as the video stream is served via Silverlight, but much work is going on to improve this by the folk in the AV team and so watching archive content via a mobile device isn’t too far away. I should also point out video is not available until the following business day as the archives are not updated until the house rises but you can always watch a live feed on the ParliamentLive website directly.
For me it has been really interesting to see how tough the job of a Hansard reporter must be when watching the video feed and then comparing it to the transcription. It’s pretty cool how much AV data exists as well, I hope you find reviewing some of the debates that have happened in Parliament over the past year as fascinating as I have.