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  • Hello you. I'm a 38-year old MSc student, studying Advanced Computer Science at Sussex University. I'm especially interested in Internet and mobile software, sensors and pervasive computing, user interfaces, and the process of developing great software.

    Before that I spent 11 years running Future Platforms, a software company I co-founded which makes lovely things for mobile phones, and which I sold in 2011.

    I read a lot, write here, and practice Aikido and airsoft. I live in Brighton, a seaside town on the south coast of the UK, with two cats and a clown.


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May 12, 2009



The anthropologist being referred to was actually Malinowski (, I think it was being pronounced strangely tonight.

Harry Brignull

What a brilliant write up, thanks Tom!

T Ahmed

Was gutted that I had to miss it, thank you for sharing the talk with us all.

Sean Key

Hi Tom,

Thanks for sharing the talk, you keep excellent notes. I don't recall the original version of the online flood risk maps site being called a disaster though :-P I worked on back office elements of it....

I had a quick look at the current version it's showing the same data but with a better explanation of what the data means. Link posted below for illustration.

You can put in a postcode and see if you are in a flood risk area or not, that's at risk from flooding from rivers or the sea.

Homeowners in these areas used to be subjected to an annual PR campaign with direct mails, leaflets explaining what the areas and warnings mean, poster campaign and autumn PR events. During a flood event TV and radio bulletins publicised the 'Floodline' number, so there are other opportunities to get over the message and meaning of the data before people access the site to see if their property is considered 'at risk' from flooding.

Thanks for the write up, very interesting stuff :-)

Simon Johnson

Hi Tom,

Your write-up is amazing. You captured every valid point from my speech. You have a gift for this!

I must say that the Environment Agency and DEFRA were a pleasure to work with. I must especially thank Victoria and Simon in the EA usability team for their support and empathy and Alison for representing DEFRAs' viewpoint.

This is a good example of how UCD can make a significant and fundamental difference to a project; This was a project that initially seeded by its' title 'Coastal erosion risk maps' This was to ostensibly set-out to see how we should present 'erosion maps'. However, the user-research identified that people didn't care about maps or erosion, but rather there was a host of information they needed to put coastal defence and erosion into perspective; Maps were, at best, supplemental to this user-goal. In the end the site was about informing and educating the public about their local area, which is fundamentally different to a site all about erosion maps.

In response to Sean Key's reference to 'a disaster' that phrase, and some less flattering, were used by the professionals. I believe they were commenting on the public's initial fears and their, subsequent, adverse reaction to the launch. I know that settled down, but the professionals were keen on avoiding a possibility that erosion maps could invoke the public's, sometimes irrational, ire,. The NCCC and front-line local authority were especially aware of this possibility. Rest assured, this wasn't my opinion.

Thanks again for the opportunity to tell my story.

Tom Hume

Thanks Simon, but all I did was write down what you said, when you said it. The clarity of your talk might be shining through here...

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