We spoke to Tim Carpenter East Sussex in Figures (ESiF) Co-ordinator, Research and Information at the council about the latest developments.
East Sussex in Figures is a website providing the latest statistics on the social, economic and demographic character of East Sussex and its communities. The team at East Sussex County Council has been using InstantAtlas for several years and recently created a new atlas that allows users to call up areas of deprivation within the county and to interpret the data in a geo-spatial way. We spoke to Tim Carpenter East Sussex in Figures (ESiF) Co-ordinator, Research and Information at the council about the latest developments.
Why did you create the new atlas?
It started with a presentation that we did to the members of the chief executive’s department about Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMDs). The indices are used widely to analyse patterns of deprivation and to identify areas that would benefit from and are eligible for special initiatives or programmes. They are key to releasing funding for projects, from road schemes to new playground equipment and are useful for everyone from parish councils to county councils. In the past, bespoke reports and research on deprivation were carried out as and when required using ArcGIS. So we decided to create a new atlas to provide users with tools to carry out their own research without requiring specific GIS knowledge or skills.
What does the new atlas show?
It gives a much more realistic picture of deprivation and also gives a sense of geographical space for the users. The challenge we have in East Sussex is that it is mainly a rural county with a low population density away from the coast and so any visual analysis by Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) alone will not give a representative image of deprivation in the county.
The detail provided by the background mapping makes identifying neighbourhoods much more effective without removing the visual impact of the standard deprivation yellow to blue colour scheme. Users can map each domain and the filters allow user to look at specific geographical areas within the county (districts and parishes etc.) and create a custom deprivation profile for this area.
Who is using the atlas?
We get many queries on deprivation from councillors, colleagues, third sector organisations and residents asking us to tell them about levels of deprivation in the areas they live, or are responsible for. The addition of a Google interface allows them to search by postcodes or street names and so it really does give them the picture they can understand. In addition, users can filter according to their specific geographical areas or responsibility and create a bespoke deprivation profile. Beforehand this process would have taken around 30 minutes using ArcGIS and would have been a one off process each time a profile was required. It is a great example of a reusable, multi-functional easy to use geographical evidence base.