How Public Health England is using interactive mapping software to present detailed public health data with the 2015 NHS Atlas of Variation

Public Health England and the NHS Atlas of Variation

Public Health England (PHE), established in April 2013, exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and delivery of specialist public health services.

InstantAtlas is widely used within PHE as it has a enterprise licence and was used for their Atlas of Variation in Healthcare, which has received widespread interest and coverage in the media.

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How web mapping software is helping Nestlé employees to understand global nutrition with the help of an easy-to-use Nutrition and Health Atlas


The Nestlé Research Center is at the heart of fundamental scientific research and innovation within Nestlé. Its role is to drive science and technology, from basic nutrition and health research, to applied research for product development and application. The NRC supports all of Nestlé’s product categories with scientific and technological expertise. We spoke to Dantong Wang in Public Health Nutrition at the Research Center about its new Nutrition and Health Atlas.

How did you find out about InstantAtlas?

I was introduced to the InstantAtlas web mapping application by a colleague who had used it before. We tried it out and realised that InstantAtlas Server could help us present large amounts of data that we had compiled for our project. However, we also needed support with the branding and customized design work which we discovered InstantAtlas Professional Services could also help with.

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International Diabetes Federation publish fifth edition global map with InstantAtlas


InstantAtlas has been used by the International Diabetes Federation to create the fifth edition of the Diabetes Atlas. The interactive online map presents a world view allowing users to make international comparisons by rolling over selected countries. Users can also select between a number of different data sets from mean Diabetes-related expenditure per person to the number of deaths attributable to the disease.

The atlas is based on new figures which indicate that the number of people living with diabetes is expected to rise from 366 million in 2011 to 552 million by 2030, unless urgent action is taken.

The IDF says this equates to approximately three new cases every ten seconds. In some of the poorest regions in the world such as Africa, where infectious diseases have traditionally been the focus of health care systems, diabetes cases are expected to increase by 90 per cent by 2030. At least 78 per cent of people in Africa are undiagnosed and do not know they are living with diabetes.

The release of these figures and the interactive online map follow the September meeting of 193 Heads of State and government at the UN High Level Meeting in New York to agree on a Political Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including diabetes.

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From the InstantAtlas archive

Diabetes UK deploys InstantAtlas to help it inform, promote and campaign

Diabetes UK deploys InstantAtlas to help it inform, promote and campaign

Using InstantAtlas, Diabetes UK presents information online such as local service provision and regional and national service performance made available from survey information. The ease with which users can analyse the statistics and the power of eye-catching graphics is helping the charity provide better support for people with diabetes and to campaign for improved local care and support services to meet with national service framework targets.

Diabetes UK is the largest organisation in the UK working for people with diabetes, funding research, campaigning and helping people live with the condition. There are an estimated 2.35 million people with diabetes in England. This is predicted to grow to more than 2.5 million by 2010 – 9% of which will be due to an increase in obesity.

The charity’s stated mission is “to improve the lives of people with diabetes and to work towards a future without diabetes.” Two central areas of its work supporting this mission are campaigning and information provision.

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How data presentation is helping the Mexico Data Observatory get local information into the hands of a wide range of individuals


Mexico’s Data Observatory works alongside the local government, organisations representing citizen’s interests and universities. One of its aims is to communicate data in such a way that it can be understood not only by experts but by the whole population. It had previously been using PDFs to present data but decided it needed to investigate other ways of doing this.

Salomon Gonzalez Arellano is Professor Investigator at the Observatory and faculty member of the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana says that one of the drivers for them was to make the data accessible by a wide range of individuals – even to teenagers needing insight for their homework.

“We felt that we didn’t need a typical map server because that would require a large investment and not everyone would be able to use it,” he says. “We decided to look for another way to communicate our work.”

Getting started

The Observatory first came across InstantAtlas in 2005 through a design agency that was interested in geographical information systems (GIS). However, it was several years before the Observatory was given funding.

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National Institute for Health and Welfare Finland


The National Institute for Health and Welfare Finland (THL) is a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

The National Institute for Health and Welfare Finland (THL) is a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. THL serves broader society, the scientific community and decision-makers in central government and municipalities. Its aim is to promote health and welfare inFinland. Within THL there is a Department of Health, Functional Capacity and Welfare. Its work focuses on the most important public health issues, their determinants and monitoring the health of the population and population subgroups.

The department conducts research and development work with a broad collaborative of partners to promote the health and functional capacity of Finnish people and to enhance health monitoring among population subgroups also at local area level.

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Florida Department of Health – ‘Improving access to vast amounts of data in a visually-compelling format’

Florida Department of Health

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Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) ‘Using interactive reports to show a nation’s progress in early childhood development’

Between 2004 and 2008, the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) Building Better Communities for Children pilot project was carried out across 60 Australian communities from all states and territories (excluding the Northern Territory). It involved more than 56,000 children and over 3,000 teachers and was a measure of how young children developed in different communities.

In 2009, the project became federally funded, and captured results for 261,203 children, which was 98 per cent of the estimated five year-old population in Australia. The AEDI is now a population census, and has created a snapshot of early childhood development in communities across Australia. It is conducted by the Centre for Community Child Health (within the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne in partnership with the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth.

We spoke to Megan Harper, GIS analyst at the AEDI National Support Centre, about the role that InstantAtlas has played in highlighting the results of the AEDI.

Starting point

The AEDI National Support Centre started using the InstantAtlas mapping software in mid-2008. It had explored other mapping solutions but felt that the software produced by GeoWise would be the best option in terms of displaying their data. InstantAtlas is already being used by the majority of Public Health Observatories in the United Kingdom. In addition, Megan had already seen the work that Melbourne University were doing with the Community Indicators Victoria website (, and John Glover’s work with the South Australian Public Health Unit Atlases (

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