AIRO adds a mapping tool for housing data in the Dublin region to its series of interactive mapping tools for all local and regional authorities in Ireland.

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 tool that 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.

Ensuring local information systems give strategic planners high-level insight and at the same time avoid information overload.

local information systems with instantatlas

The text included in this article is a transcript from our recent TalkLIS webcast interview with Tim Healey of Coventry City Council and Jamie Whyte of Trafford Council with Julian Tyndale Biscoe of InstantAtlas. You can also hear this interview by selecting the soundcloud player below.


Hello, and welcome to the fifth in our series of talk LIS interviews. My name is Julian Tyndale-Biscoe. Today I’m joined by Jamie Whyte, data innovation specialist at Trafford Council and Tim Healey, corporate research officer in the Coventry Insight Team at Coventry City Council.

I wondered if I could ask, Tim, you first actually, if you could tell me a little bit about the project that you’ve been working on, your LIS project and what the challenges you faced when you developed the system?


Read the full transcript
or listen to the interview below

‘Putting data into action at Vermont Department of Health’


The text included in this article is a transcript from our recent webcast interview with Rich McCoy of Vermont Department of Health and Julian Tyndale Biscoe of InstantAtlas. You can also hear this interview by selecting the sound cloud box option below.


Hello, my name is Julian Tyndale-Biscoe and I’d like to welcome you to the third in our US public health webinar series. Today we are joined by Rich McCoy, Director, Center for Health Statistics at Vermont Department of Health. He is going to tell us about the project he has been working on. We wondered first off Rich if you could tell us why you think it is important to bring data into one place so it can be used as a central resource?


So until very recently our approach, our organizational model, was to leave it up to the staff to maintain their data sets individually and choose which tools they would use, which software packages they would use, for both the analysis and the reporting of these data…

Read the full transcript
or listen to the interview below

How Health Maps Wales is helping to uncover patterns, trends and variation in health outcomes through the visual analysis of data

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.

Getting started

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.

Read the full article

Calling Denise from Derby

‘Not Denise and not a Kindle either’

‘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.

How InstantAtlas is helping Gloucestershire County Council meet its transparency agenda through interactive mapping

InstantAtlas in action

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.

Read the full article

Using online maps to address unwarranted variation in health

Writing in the Health Service Journal this week (subscription needed) paediatric registrar Dr Ronny Cheung highlights the NHS Atlas of Variation in Healthcare and in particular the Child Health Atlas as a useful tool in helping NHS commissioners reduce unwarranted variation in healthcare.

Unwarranted variation is a term associated with the work of professor Jack Wennberg who spent four decades documenting the geographic variation in the healthcare that patients receive in the United States. His assertion is that the variation occurs because healthcare is complex and there are many influencing factors. These include socioeconomic factors, differences in population age or gender and also innovation in healthcare delivery – which may lead to improvements in the quality of healthcare services delivered in one area.

Wennberg also believes that some variation is unwarranted. In other words, it should not be happening and can occur because healthcare professionals are not practising according to evidence-based clinical standards, or there is variation in clinical performance. It has also been shown that where there are high levels of healthcare provision, there are higher admission rates and more outpatient appointments.

The Child Health Atlas was devised as a way of illustrating the variation in healthcare children receive across 27 indicators of child health. It was compiled by the Child and Maternal Health Observatory and for the first time provides a visual online demonstration of variations across the breadth of child health services provided in England. You can read how ChiMat worked with InstantAtlas here. The Child Health Atlas allows users to view any of the 27 indicators at upper tier Local Authority or PCT level. The extent of the variation is considerable. For example, perinatal mortality varies twofold among PCTs in England and breastfeeding rates threefold

The intention is that clinicians, commissioners and service users will be able to identify priority areas for improving outcome, quality and productivity. The question is, now that we have the tools to reduce unwarranted variation in the shape of the Child Health Atlas, whether we will see a coordinated effort. Commissioners, local authorities (now responsible for public health) and provider organisations will have to work together to reduce variation. However, there are some who believe this in increasingly unlikely and that health and social care delivery is likely to be fragmented as a result of the Health and Social Care Act. As with so many things in healthcare delivery, it is going to be a case of having to wait and see.