Tag Archives: Emerging Technologies

Homeworking and improving poor home WiFi

Like many of you, when COVID hit I was expected to work from home for much of my working week. I quickly put dibs on the dining room table. I borrowed a work laptop that had recently been upgraded to Windows 10, which meant that I could easily connect to my computer files and Trust’s intranet. I purchased a computer chair after a week or so of enduring what I once thought were comfortable dining chairs and an ergonomic mouse that stopped me from getting RSI. All sorted.

But there was one huge elephant in the room.

Poor wifi connection – lots of coverage blackspots and our devices regularly fell off the wifi connection. We live in a weirdly shaped bungalow – it’s very long, with rooms going off at strange angles and lots of thick walls in the way. The router was located at the very back of the house in an extension the previous owners had built, and it was on a separate electrical network. This is an important point for trying to sort out connectivity issues.

Ever since moving in, we’ve been trying to sort out this problem. I’ve spoken to our wifi providers – we’re on the fastest coverage possible for our area. I’ve spent a couple of evenings on the phone to them trying to tweak our set-up to get maximum oomph out of our connection, which included switching between different frequency channels depending on which ones were less well used at that particular point, and making sure there was nothing near it that could be stopping the signal etc. That didn’t make any difference.

We investigated and purchased a wi-fi extender. The first one we tried was a powerline adaptor – these devices use existing electrical wiring to transmit data between them and extend the reach of the wifi. This is when we discovered that our router is on a different electrical circuit to the rest of the house, so that didn’t work. We next tried a general wireless extender, which acts as a relay to re-broadcast the signal onwards to other parts of the house. This made a small improvement, but we still had blackspots and devices dropping off wifi and needed a separate password.

I investigated getting Virgin cable connected to our house. Note to self – never, ever purchase a house on a private road which can only be accessed via another private road. The Virgin technician very cheerfully told me I was a hiding to nothing there as I needed written permission from every home owner to say that they could tunnel under the roads, and did I have any inkling of the costs involved.

A colleague mentioned to me that they had purchased a more expensive router which had sorted out their issues. Upon further investigation (I really recommend the free articles on the Which website), I came across the idea of mesh routers. These are a network of hubs or satellites – one of them plugs into your existing modem (these days your router is often a combined router/modem) and the others are placed strategically around your house (we have our second hub in the loft). They are a more expensive solution but they have worked brilliantly for us. No more blackspots, no more dropping off wifi. I can get connectivity from any corner of the house. Most importantly, we can now watch television over the internet with zero buffering!

Before purchasing anything as expensive as mesh routers, do your research. Check that the one you are planning on purchasing will be powerful enough for your size of house. Check that it really will eliminate all blackspots if this is your issue and how many devices it supports. I recommend Techradar as a good place to start; they also cover Black Friday deals if you fancy a bargain.

Catherine Micklethwaite
South Devon Healthcare Library Service
catherine.micklethwaite@nhs.net

CILIP Technology Review

CILIP has announced a new project to prepare the library, information and knowledge workforce for the opportunities afforded by new technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics and Process Automation. These are the technologies which are collectively shaping the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’.

The aim is to undertake a landmark piece of research and deliver recommendations that will facilitate the transformation of the library and information profession into a ‘future-ready’ workforce over the next 5 years through CILIP’s Workforce Strategy.

CILIP would like answers to the following question: How are machine learning, AI, robotics and process automation likely to change the roles and functions of the library, information and knowledge workforce across sectors over the next decade? Our aim is to create a report that may help answer questions like these with recommendations and issues to consider to help guide CILIP and the information and knowledge workforce.

CILIP are seeking case studies to inform their research. It would be great for the Health LIS sector to be involved and represented in this endeavour.

Are you, or any services you know of, currently using or working towards implementing any ‘new; and emerging technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics and Process Automation – then please share your case study using the form linked below:

https://fs3.formsite.com/cilip/jj46obwtwy/index.html?1598524618359

The final report will be overseen by an Editorial Group, chaired by CILIP CEO Nick Poole, and will be published in the Spring of 2021. The overall project is being Chaired by Sue Lacey Bryant, National Lead for NHS Knowledge and Library Services at Health Education England (HEE).

AI For Healthcare: Equipping the Workforce for Digital Transformation

AI For Healthcare was a course created by Health Education England and the University of Manchester, to provide a general overview of AI and how it can and is being used in the health sector. Anyone could access this course for a limited amount of time, although it was designed for healthcare workers in mind.

As someone who’s really interested in AI and machine learning (and a big fan of the Topol Review), I took the plunge and had a go. The course was incredibly useful, providing a great introduction to AI. It showed working examples of how it could be utilised, and the pros and cons of implementing new technologies.

Discussion was actively encouraged, and I chatted with wide variety of people working within the healthcare sector. There was the occasional quiz, but mostly people benefited from the rich conversations taking place in the comments sections.

The course was split into five weeks:

  • Week 1: Motivating AI in Healthcare
  • Week 2: What is Artificial Intelligence
  • Week 3: Data in Healthcare
  • Week 4: Making it Work
  • Week 5: Supporting and Skilling the Workforce

The first week was a brief introduction to the course, and looked at the opportunities and challenges of working within the health sector; using technologies to assist with healthcare in an increasingly demanding setting.  It was also an opportunity to introduce ourselves within the discussion, and how we believe our roles could utilise AI in the future. I mentioned monitoring library usage (seeing what resources/topics are popular) and targeted promotion, making resources more accessible and findable for users, more relevant current awareness updates and taking the edge out of literature searching.

We focused on ethical and social aspects of AI and machine learning, generating interesting discussion around if we would be comfortable with being provided personal information and news regarding our health by AI, and whether AI should be used by healthcare professionals to inform decision making. There was also debate on whether AI could essentially ‘replace’ certain services, such as GPs. The general consensus was that as the technology is designed to support, rather than replace services, that it is not capable or desirable for technology to replace human roles.

Further down the line, we looked at cases of AI in action with regards to identifying cancer in breast images. This was particularly topical as it had been recently reported in the news.

There was also an introduction to ‘team science’ theory, creating interdisciplinary teams to work together on projects. Experts from all kinds of different fields and backgrounds will be required for the development of AI in healthcare. Having a diverse range of professionals with different backgrounds, expertise and insights would be highly beneficial, both to reduce bias in software and to create something which can be used by a wide variety of people. I was keen to point out that LKS workers have great skills around Knowledge Management, accessibility and user-centred design, and that having LKS staff embedded into multidisciplinary teams would be an excellent use of our expertise.

We also looked at the challenges of AI; its implementation, management, and the need to educate and train staff on how to use it effectively. I believe this in particular is a golden opportunity for LKS staff; to educate, train, and advocate for the user, enabling them access to quality technology and providing them a safe space to learn and develop new skills.

All in all, the course was an excellent introduction. Being able to network with healthcare professionals was also very useful, as I was able to gage their thoughts and feelings about AI. The course tutors and mentors were fantastic, contributing to discussion and encouraging people to think outside the box. It was heartening also to see the support and interest from others in the roles of LKS staff, and how AI can be a useful tool in our libraries.

Below is a list of some resources which were recommended by the course:

 

Hannah Wood
Librarian
Weston Area Health Library
hannah.wood8@nhs.net