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#teamhack visit Cefas in Weymouth

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Defra digital, Open data

Weymouth Harbour panoramic view

Our boss told us to get out, so we did (get out of London that is). So we visited Cefas - the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science - in Weymouth which was interesting.

From the start, it was obvious that Cefas is a data driven organization, let us explain...

We rocked up about 09:30 and were met by mathematician Dr Nicola McPherson. To prove that she's a maths peep, here are a few lines from her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) dissertation:

###Run with previous and current set of parameters #sol=lsoda(base_inits,time,ARGY3,c(0.001,8,1,0,2,0.0275,1,2,0.741,1)) sol=lsoda(base_inits,time,ARGY3,c(alpha1,0,1,1,beta1,c1,15,2,0.741,1)) soln=lsoda(base_inits,time,ARGY3,c(alpha1,0,1,0,beta1,c1,15,2,0.741,1)) sols=sol[time>tail(time,1)-366,]
solns=soln[time>tail(time,1)-366,] PH=sols[floor(365/24+(365/12)*0:11),3]/sols[floor(365/24+(365/12)*0:11),2] PHn=solns[floor(365/24+(365/12)*0:11),3]/solns[floor(365/24+(365/12)*0:11),2]

Clever, no?

Nicola talked us through Cefas’s data management process. Because they have many commercial customers they need to separate their data. A typical Cefas project may generate 1 terabyte of data which is used to make the food chain, environment and economy a whole lot safer. Nicola showed us the Master Data Register (MDR). James thought this sounded scary and had something to do with the movie Tron. Fortunately, David slapped him and we carried on.

Next we met David, a project manager in the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). David gave us an overview of the work that Cefas does including their international work. David showed us around the building, including a really cool electron microscope which James kept banging on about.

Fish Health Inspector Richard explained his work. He is 1 of 6 inspectors that cover England and Wales. They use an app built in-house which saves a lot of time over the previous paper based stuff. Aside from doing their own statutory inspections, they also carry out work for the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

Halley showed us Starfish, the backend to the app used for inspections and other data sources. Its really good and clearly does the job they need. She explained how much time this version of the service saves, versus the manual system they had before. We were really impressed by this, especially how it was built around their user needs.

Finally, we met Mark who likes the RAF Tornado. He showed us an alpha version of the live fish movements service. It's a responsive web service which works on a variety of devices. Mark then went on to show us the FINS app through the user research that they had done in the development potential users were happy to share all but the location of their catches. FINS marks Cefas first foray into citizen science and our innate desire to record things.

In all we had a very insightful visit and will visit Cefas’s Lowestoft office soon. If you do or don’t want us to visit somewhere, please let us know.

[Image credit: David Pearson on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.]

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  1. Comment by John Seglias posted on

    Great update! I love visiting our offices and spending time understanding and learning what our colleagues do, and what it is that we do that helps them. I spent quite a but of time in Newcastle in July and I am due to go to Warrington, Weybridge, Peterborough and Cambridge in the next 2 weeks alone ...

  2. Comment by Emma Shaw @ EA Innovation posted on

    Really cool! Great to hear more about what other departments are doing with data. Thanks for sharing.