The InstantAtlas blog is for information related to data presentation and visualization, local information systems, and the analysis of public health data and community indicators using InstantAtlas Software and Solutions
Local Area Research and Intelligence Association (LARIA) is currently holding its second Local Area Research Fortnight which runs until the 22nd April 2016 to raise the profile of local area research.
The fortnight aims to get not only LARIA members but a whole range of public and private sector organisations and bodies talking about the value of local area research. Participants are encouraged to organise events or publish materials that will help the public, politicians, employees and the media understand the impact of local area research.
Supporters will also be blogging and Tweeting during this week and LARIA will be posting regular updates and Tweets using #LARIA2016. Last year there were 1,138 #LARIA2015 tweets from 312 contributors with a combined reach of 3.1m raising awareness of local area research and its significance far and wide. It is hoped that 2016 will be bigger and better.
The two weeks of awareness-raising activities and events will culminate in the LARIA Annual Conference and the Research Impact Awards. The LARIA Research Impact Awards are the only awards specifically designed to showcase the work of those researching local areas and the real difference they make to the people they serve.
Cambridgeshire Insight http://www.instantatlas.com/Cambridgeshire-Insight-Open-Data.html, a data portal using visualisation analysis tools to provide local information, is just one example of research groups’ determination to present a wide range of data in an easy to understand format. To achieve this Cambridgeshire Insight created several interactive atlases combining local and national open data using InstantAtlas software, one of which was commended in the Best use of Community Safety or Policing Research category at the 2015 LARIA Awards. Cambridgeshire Insight received the honour for its Cambridgeshire Atlas: Victim and Offender Pyramids http://atlas.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/Crime/atlas.html.
The atlas is helping to ensure local service delivery is evidence-led by providing a breakdown of victim and offenders for each district, by age group and gender in Cambridgeshire. Comparisons can be made between different age groups between districts and within the County by adding comparator lines to the pyramid. Its open data approach allows users to see the profiles of victimisation and offending by district.
This year, both InstantAtlas and Cambridge Insight will be among 30 organisations supporting Local Area Research Fortnight to raise awareness of how research, presentation of data and its analysis can add value across a broad range of sectors including local government, health, police, fire and rescue services, housing and education.
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.
The Cambridgeshire Research Group at Cambridgeshire County Council is not only celebrating success at last year’s LARIA awards, it has been developing Cambridgeshire Insight to ensure it continues to provide good quality information that can help the community make better informed decisions at every level.
The team’s success at LARIA saw researcher Zonni Auburn named as New Researcher of the Year. This award is given to a researcher with under five years of experience in a research field who has made a significant impact. The Group also was commended in the Best use of community safety or policing research category (for the Cambridgeshire Atlas: Victim and Offender Pyramids) and shortlisted in the Most engaging presentation of local area research category.
The Cambridgeshire Atlas: Victim and Offender Pyramids is just one example of the Group’s determination to present a wide range of data in an easy to understand format. The atlas provides a breakdown of victim and offenders for each district, by age group and gender in Cambridgeshire. This allows users to see the profiles of victimisation and offending by district. Comparisons can be made between different age groups between districts and with the County by adding comparator lines to the pyramid.
In addition, the team posts regular blogs about its latest projects such as its open data in public transport initiative. The council has recognised that in order to deliver more jobs and economic growth the Greater Cambridge area has to grow whilst maintaining ease of movement. [See also the Economic Assessment Atlas] However this requires moving toward more intelligent mobility. At the heart of intelligent mobility is data, this data has been described as a ‘new form of oil’ for the transport system which will allow; greater understanding of the network, better mapping of demand, more accurate information for users and the implementation of ideas such as ‘Smart Parking’.
The Cambridgeshire Insight partnership has used Breakthrough Two funding to begin to unlock some of the most requested data sets as well as making some of the already available data more user friendly by developing streaming application program interfaces (APIs). This allows developers to gather real time information. Interest has already been shown by a company who would like to use a live stream of the Car Parking data and work on an API has begun. This data will then be used in a pilot Smart Parking platform. You can out more about the initiative here.
We have previously highlighted the interactive mapping tools for all local and regional authorities in Ireland developed by the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO). AIRO undertakes academic and applied mapping research and produces spatial datasets and specialist tools.
Earlier this year AIRO launched a free-to-use, online monitoring toolthat maps housing data for the Dublin region. The interactive mapping tool allows users to examine and interrogate the geography of Dublin’s housing. It includes over 700 maps revealing changes in the spatial patterns of all private and social housing tenures, including information relating to household composition and state housing supports to private renters.
Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh says mapping housing data is extremely useful for the future planning and distribution of housing in Dublin and to support the decision making of central government and the local authorities to meet the scale of housing need. This in turn will ensure good quality, accessible and affordable public housing in the Dublin region.
The development of the monitoring tool is based on the housing data available from the 2011 Census at Electoral District and Small Area levels and selected census datasets from 2006, 2002 and 1991. It is accompanied by rent supplement recipient datasets from Department of Social Protection. Future modules currently under development will include additional local authority housing related data for the Dublin region, for example in relation to housing standards and local authority mortgages.
The AIRO website has grown to become an excellent resource for planning and policy making. Justin Gleeson, Director of AIRO, Maynooth University is delighted to get this toolkit up and running and is looking forward to a continuing relationship with Dublin City Council. “This is the first step on a very exciting project and it is an initiative that is easily transferable to the rest of the country,” he says.
How Health Maps Wales is helping to uncover patterns, trends and variation in health outcomes through the visual analysis of data
The NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) collects and manages data held in a wide range of national datasets on behalf of NHS Wales and the Welsh government. This includes hospital admissions data, the National Community Child Health Database (NCCHD), outpatient attendances as well as birth and death registrations.
NWIS wanted to develop a ‘one-stop shop’ to improve access to this data and also provide a more complete picture of health for public health professionals and commissioners in small regions. It felt that low-level geographic maps using Census output areas would give them a better understanding of their local health needs and inform spending plans.
NWIS developed an interactive tool called Health Maps Wales in collaboration with the Welsh government to map a range of health indicators within broad categories.
‘Not Denise and not the tablet in question either’
Travelling by train recently I was confronted by an advert for the new ‘paper white’ tablet. It’s a smart piece of work that carries a quote from someone called Denise who is apparently a book lover, but is so bowled over by the new device she feels compelled to tell everyone about it. “It felt like reading a book,” is what the marketing department has come up with. The accompanying picture is rather cheesy and features a model who definitely isn’t called Denise (this picture is the nearest to it we could find).
I’ve worked in publishing and marketing for many years and the temptation to promote by pulling a quote out of thin air and attribute it to Dave for Dagenham is overwhelming. In the past this sort of thing was commonplace, but the days when punters are fooled into thinking that Denise might really exist are long gone.
We have ways of leaving immediate feedback on the services and products we buy, we don’t mind if other people see what we write. We are encouraged to do so. We are connected by social media to other people who share their innermost secrets with us. So why in such a world would a marketing team decide that a quote from Denise would help them sell more tablets.
Campaigns that work well feature real people. Take the cruise company that asked travellers to send in pictures of themselves having a great time on board its liners. The result is simple – it doesn’t feel like they are being asked to say nice words about their experience but the two are neatly aligned.
Our noses are becoming more sensitive and better tuned to sniffing out planted reviews and over-eager testimonials. Getting real customers to become part of your promotion is the only way to go.
However, proceed with caution. Twitter marketeers discovered recently you can go too far when it comes to getting real people say the things you want them to say via social media. A safer alternative is to ask your customers take part in webinars or live webcasts so prospective customers can hear they are genuine and even ask the questions they might feel a sales person would try to ignore.
I hope I’m wrong about Denise and that she really does live in a semi in Derby and every weekday morning she tries to snatch a quick read of the latest book by her favourite author on her way to work.
Katherine Martin, from the Strategic Needs Analysis Team at Gloucestershire County Council explains how it is using interactive mapping software to help encourage self-service and meet its transparency agenda.
What is your project?
Over the last few years we have been focusing on making data available within the organisation, as well as to our partners and the public, in an easy to use and accessible way that is less resource intensive.
This has taken many forms including a publicly available website Inform Gloucestershire, the JSNA (a strategic planning tool which brings together the latest information on health and wellbeing) and MAIDeN (a multi-agency database where users will find interactive profiles for the different neighbourhoods in the county).
InstantAtlas has been part of the process of making information available in ways that are easy to use, understand and update. It has allowed us to visualise data in a new format that has enhanced our existing offer.