One month in: Building a stronger technical backbone

The project is long overdue an update. We’ve wrapped up its first full month and a lot has happened in that time.

On the surface, it might not appear that way. The beacons having been serving alerts and the user experience is unchanged. The early theft issue is fortunately a thing of the past too. However, this hides some technical difficulties we've been patching up in the background, caused by a bad batch of beacons and unpredictable software upgrades.

All of the problems have been fixable but it's taken time to identify the root of the issue. As the technology is still relatively untested there’s no instruction manual to rely on so it's been a case of rapid trial and error to get us through.

Time for a better way...

More independence and automation.

The only way to we can guarantee a more reliable service is to take greater control of the engineering process. We will achieve this by running the service via our own APIs.

This is still in development, however, doing so will bring the following benefits:

  • Managing fleets of beacons at scale, replacing what is currently quite a manual process
  • Greater customisation of alert content, including URLs and favicons
  • Detecting and assigning the nearest beacon to a story based on geo-tagged content
  • Pulling in news feeds from a curated selection of trusted sources, reducing demands on an Editor
  • Offering *some* personalisation for the reader e.g. offering content in the language set on their handset
  • Providing more reliable analytics, able to track an unlimited number of links

Spreading the news.

I’ll be talking at the following events this month:

  • Hack/Hackers North @ Federation House - a journalist and developer meetup
  • Arcadis Deep Orange @ Enterprise City UK - a design thinking conference about the built environment
  • Google News Initiative @ Press Association - a meetup of Google-funded news innovations

Hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, feel free to drop me an email with any questions via the link below or catch me on Twitter.


Stuart Goulden

Lead Consultant