A group of academics and students from Goldsmiths, University of London have created a unique installation to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS.
The Long Run is a seven metre marble run combining physical computing, graphics and interactive mechanisms, and is designed to illustrate how the NHS supports people throughout their lives.
It was commissioned by the British Medical Association (BMA) and British Medical Journal (BMJ) and was unveiled at their headquarters in Tavistock Place, London on Thursday 5 July.
The project has been led by Dr Theo Papatheodorou (Senior Lecturer in Computing), Jesse Wolpert (creative technologist and Computing Summer Programme Leader) and Tom Chambers (creative technologist and Goldsmiths alumnus). Seven students from the MFA/MA Computational Arts also worked as professionals on the project.
It is an attempt to create a physical data visualisation or data materialisation, using NHS data that demonstrates how much each patient costs on average during a specific year of their lives.
It features seven marble runs, roughly corresponding to a decade in a person’s life. Visitors are encouraged to drop a marble from the top and count the time it takes in seconds for the marble, before multiplying the number of seconds by £200 to work out the total cost of NHS care for that person over a decade.
Dr Papatheodorou said: “We wanted to create something that demonstrated the value of the NHS and showed the real cost of the care we take for granted. It has been great to include such a range of Goldsmiths staff and students in this project and we’re delighted with the outcome. I am very grateful to the BMA and BMJ for the opportunity to help create this work, and to the Goldsmiths Department of Computing for its support of the project through providing resource and space.”