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Scots tech provides answers to Covid challenges

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Fios team: Max Bylesjo, Sarah Lynagh and Martin-Ramsay

Scottish technology is behind two developments that have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Edinburgh BioQuarter bioinformatician Jack Sleight, of Fios Genomics, has built an app which translates daily data released by the Scottish Government into easy to read graphs, maps and charts.

Mr Sleight created The Covid Data Visualisation app to help people make sense of the daily facts and figures provided by Scottish Government and to help them gain a greater understanding about the spread of the pandemic across Scotland and its NHS regions.

“The aim was to summarise the public data through the use of neat, simple visuals and create something that is easy for people to use and get them more interested in how the pandemic is unfolding.

“The app can split the data into regional areas and the functional map also allows users to clearly see the national picture,” he said.

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Fios Genomics is a specialist company delivering bioinformatics data services for pharmaceutical, bio-tech organisations and academia world-wide.

CEO Dr Sarah Lynagh said: “Jack’s app demonstrates perfectly how applicable data analysis is in all our lives and we are currently recruiting new analysts like Jack to join our growing team during this exciting time for our business.”

Meanwhile, Covid-19 data will now be easily accessible to people with visual impairments thanks to the Scottish Tech Army, a group of volunteers finding tech solutions to a range of problems.

They have developed a project, which is the first of its kind in the world, and forms part of the new COVID-19 dashboard launched this month and using data sonification to convert data into notes of various pitches.

These notes create auditory graphs that will help convey current COVID-19 data to users with visual impairments.

The Scottish Tech Army (STA) was founded by entrepreneurs Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco in the early stages of lockdown. It connects Scotland’s deep pool of tech professionals with projects that need solutions.

Eirini Kominou, an STA voluntee helped integrate data sonification into the dashboard. She recently completed her PhD in machine learning and data at the University of Strathclyde and is visually impaired so she knows how valuable this tool will be for those with accessibility needs.

“Sonification has seen some early use in fields like astronomy and geoscience to present and analyse complex data sets. However, using it in the dashboard will bring the technique to the wider public for the first time,” she said.



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