Latest POSTnotes from the Parl’y Office of Science and Technology


The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has recently published the following POSTnotes:

Social Media and Big Data

Analysing large quantities of readily available data from social media has created new opportunities to understand and influence how people think and act. This POSTnote examines the application of ‘big data’ approaches to social media in three key areas: elections and polling, commercial applications and security. It also covers the regulation of social media data and public concerns around privacy.

Transparency of Clinical Trials Data

Results from many clinical trials are not published or made available. Recently there have been calls for clinical trials data to be made more accessible. This briefing examines ways of achieving greater transparency and the issues that they raise.

Surveillance of Infectious Disease

Microbes such as bacteria and viruses cause a wide range of infectious diseases. They can be highly adaptable and evolve rapidly to changing environments. This can change their ability to spread and their susceptibility to antimicrobial drugs. Surveillance is key for detecting and responding to novel and re-emerging microbes. This briefing describes current surveillance efforts and examines new technological developments and their likely impacts on UK and international public health.

HIV Prevention in the UK

Preventing HIV is a priority for research and public health. Research developments and the trends in the nature of the epidemic mean that policy is continually revised in order to educate the public, reduce transmission of the virus and treat those affected. This note describes patterns of infection and policies to increase HIV testing. It also summarises evidence for using antiretrovirals as a preventive measure.

Intermittent Electricity Generation

Sources of electricity that exhibit uncontrolled increases or decreases in output are often referred to as intermittent. This POSTnote examines the effect of wind, solar, wave and tidal intermittency on electricity prices, carbon dioxide emissions and the provision of electricity to meet demand. The note also describes measures to manage intermittency.

See the POST website here.

If you would like any further information on these briefings, please contact or call 020 7219 8377.