North West blog

Big Data in Radio Astronomy

Our first event for 2020

Our first event for 2020 is at the Alan Turing Centre, University of Manchester, on Thursday 13 February at 14:00.

We are very pleased to welcome three excellent speakers from the Jodrel Bank Centre for Astrophysics. Our speakers are:

  • Professor Keith Grainge on Big data in radio astronomy
  • Dr Lina Levin Preston on Real-time searches for pulsars and fast transients with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)
  • Dr Alex Clark on Automated source classification for the next generation of imaging surveys


Next Event: Friday 24 April 2020

We have a talk and tour of the Novelis Aluminium Recycling Plant in Warrington. Watch this space...

Photo by Mike Peel (

Photo courtesy of Mike Peel (

Transport for the North

Jack Snape, Magda Smith, Chris Storey, Jonathen Gilsenan and Robert Farrar from Transport for the North gave an excellent presentation to NWORG on 16 October at Piccadilly Gate in Manchester. 

'A Polycentric Economy' was the title of the talk and they were able to demonstrate how this might be achieved through a better understanding of how people use transport for work and leisure within the Northern Geographic Region stretching from the Cheshire through to Northumberland. They gave us insights into the work they were doing and the types of data and analyses.

There was a very good turnout for this event. I had to apologise for being a few minutes late because of a delayed train journey, so there is definitely merit in this work from my sample of one.

At our next meeting 20 November 2019 in Manchester we welcome GCHQ to coincide with the opening of their new Manchester Office.


Looking forward to Hartree Visit

Posted 3 May 2019

We are just over one week away from our NWORG visit to Hartree Centre at Daresbury which has proved to be a very popular visit. On the day we can look forward to hearing about the work done at this unique facility. The visit takes place on 15th May starting at 2.30pm until 5pm. There is limited car parking available on site so if you want to attend and are travelling by car then email details through the Eventbrite link and we will request a space.

There is still time to book your place. The list of those registered has to be passed to Hartree Centre next week so if you are intending to go book your place here.

About Hartree Centre

Backed by over £170 million of government funding and significant strategic partnerships​ with organisations such as IBM and Atos​, the Hartree Centre is home to some of the most technically advanced high performance computing, data analytics, machine learning technologies and experts in the UK. Hartree is a centre within the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The Science and Technology Facilities Council is part of UK Research and Innovation​.

Looking forward to welcoming you to Hartree Centre!

Professor Tony Hines

Up Next!


20 November 2019 (18:00-20:00)

Manchester (MMU John Dalton Building)

GCHQ is opening a Manchester office in 2019 and we have asked them to come along and tell us about their work. Dr Bill Oxbury, Chief Data Scientist, GCHQ is our speaker.

Update on Amazon Visit

Posted 21 Feb 2019

We currently have an active waiting list for the Amazon visit. If you want to go on the Amazon visit but have been put off by the registration site showing sold out. You should continue to registration ticking the waiting list box and entering your details. As and when any additional places become available you will be contacted. A few people have already benefited from the waiting list and have received tickets as places became available.

For those of you already booked and holding tickets if you find you cannot go please remember to cancel your ticket so we can accommodate people on the waiting list who want to attend.

Thank you.


NWORG Amazon Visit

AMAZON Fulfillment Centre Visit (Altrincham -Nr. Manchester Airport)

Wednesday 6 March 2019 @ 14:00

SAT NAV Post Code M90 5AA

We will assemble in the visitor Car Park at 13:50 for a prompt start at 14:00. The tour takes a couple of hours and you are advised to wear comfortable flat shoes. If anyone booking has special accessibility requirements we can let Amazon know if you email me directly or you can provide details on the booking page in a message to the organiser.

Please note there is limited availability for the visit and a waiting list is in operation once all places have been booked. If you book and later find that you can no longer attend please cancel your place so it can be released to those on the waiting list.

This promises to be an informative afternoon giving insights into Amazon's customer fulfillment operations and the wider UK supply chain.

Please register for the event here:

Look forward to seeing you there.

Professor Tony Hines NWORG Chair

Upcoming Events 2019

Our last meeting held in Liverpool on 12 December 2018 organised jointy with University of Liverpool, HMRC and BAM had a number of speakers focusing their attentions on the 'Applications of Big Data and Analytics'. Claire Potter from HMRC demonstrated how HMRC was using predictive analytics to improve taxpayer behaviour. Dark Data and Social Media Analytics was the topic of interest for Dr Shaibal Roy from PA Consulting Group followed by an interesting look at how satellite data has been used in supply chain management by Dr Gopal Narayanamurthy from the University of Liverpool. Also from the University of Liverpool we were entertained as well as informed by Professor Ian McHale's research of how big data and analytics are used to predict the outcome of football matches using algorithms to evaluate the performance and contributions of individual players and their influence on the final result outcome. Stuart Whittle from Weighmans LLP gave some insights to how a legal practice is using analytics to plan workloads. The final presentation was given by Shakeel Khan and Qasim Sultan from HMRC talking about building data science capability in Pakistan. There was ample time for questions expertly chaired by Dr Fotios Misopoulis from the Management School at University of Liverpool. Thanks also to Eleni Vakouftsi from HMRC who worked hard to make the day a success. It was a good opportunity for networking and I am sure everyone who attended got something from the day.

6 March 2019 Amazon Visit Altrincham 14:00

We start 2019 with a visit to Amazon's Warehouse at Altrincham on Wednesday 6 March at 14:00 where we will be treated to an inside look behind the scenes at operations to deliver customer service. Full details of how to book your place for the visit will be coming soon. Watch this space!

15th May 2019 Visit to the Hartree Centre Daresbury 15:00

Hartree is a centre within the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation. They have agreed to host and present to a NWORG meeting at Daresbury in 2019. Backed by over £170 million of government funding and significant strategic partnerships? with organisations such as IBM and Atos, the Hartree Centre is home to some of the most technically advanced high performance computing, data analytics, machine learning technologies and experts in the UK.

Look forward to seeing you at NWORG in 2019.

Best wishes,

Professor Tony Hines NWORG Chair

Applications of Big Data and Analytics

Further to the announcement of this joint meeting at the NWORG AGM here are the details for the meeting on 'Applications of Big Data Analystics'. If you want to book a place follow the link below. The event is organised by the Agility Centre of University of Liverpool Management School in collaboration with the British Academy of Management, the HMRC Liverpool office, and the Operational Research Society.

Further details and booking:

Wed 12 December 2018


Current technological advances allow organisations to collect, store, and analyse data in a manner that enables cost and time reductions, development of new products and services, and in general, a smarter decision making. The applications emerging from this Big Data “revolution” cover a wide range of areas and industries. This conference aims at informing participants of the value and benefits that accrue from utilising Big Data and Analytics by demonstrating successful applications across a variety of industries.

Benefits of Attendance

  • Understanding the required technology for Big Data applications
  • An acquaintance of how Big Data Analytics can improve decision-making
  • Insights into successful applications of Big Data Analytics
  • Opportunity for networking


Claire Potter, HMRC – Influencing Outcomes – can we use predictive analytics to improve Taxpayer behaviour?

Dr Shaibal Roy, PA Consulting Group – Dark Data and social media analytics

Dr Gopal Narayanamurthy, University of Liverpool – Satellite Data for Supply Chain Management

Prof. Ian McHale, University of Liverpool – Big Data and Analytics in Sports

Stuart Whittle, Weightmans LLP – Ideas Around Using Data and Predictive Analytics in Real World Settings

Shakeel Khan and Qasim Sultan, HMRC – A Journey to Support Data Science Capability Building in Pakistan