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Using a shared online resource to ensure Devon’s strategic partners make evidence-based decisions using the same data

Background

Devon County Council's Economy Service was set up to support and strengthen the Devon economy by developing the right conditions for economic growth. The Economy Service facilitates and delivers a variety of programmes and initiatives. It works alongside a range of partners from the business and community sectors and other public organisations to improve business performance and job opportunities.

One of the projects the Economy Service has successfully developed is the Devonomics website (http://www.devonomics.info). The website allows users to view data on key aspects of the Devon economy. It is split into three categories (People, Place and Prosperity) each with their own sub categories displaying a range of data.

Katie Grant, Assistant Economic Development Officer, Devon County Council, explains that the driving factor behind the website was the Local Economic Assessment. It was decided that a website would be the best way to display the data supporting the assessment in an easy-to-use format.

“We wanted to present the data is such a way that it could be accessed by a range of stakeholders across the eight district authorities. We were conscious that not all of our users would be comfortable working with tables and graphs,” says Katie.

Getting started

Katie and a colleague were given the go-ahead to start using InstantAtlas and having downloaded the tutorials, they both started work on creating dynamic maps for the website. Katie says that it did take some time to get the first reports up and running but once the templates were created, it was much more straightforward. “We use data visualisations where they are most appropriate,” she says. A good example is the presentation of Job Seekers Allowance claimants. At any given time there will be a certain proportion of the working age population who will be out of work. The Job Seekers Allowance claimant count provides a timely snapshot of the proportion of the resident working age population who are currently in receipt of this out of work benefit. The interactive map allows users to see at a glance how the eight districts compare over time.

Meeting the need

Katie says the council uses web analytics to determine how many users are visiting the site and what they are looking at. “We have meeting with colleagues across the council and it’s clear that Devonomics is being used,” says Katie. The main user groups are council colleagues, councillors and members of the public – students in particular.

Katie also points out that Devonomics is a shared evidence base it is being promoted as a way to ensure that all partners are using the same figures. “We produce a monthly job data analysis bulletins which is supported with InstantAtlas. This means people getting the bulletin get a link to the data and map. We have also just started doing a quarterly bulletin.”

Devon Employment Rates

Future developments

Katie says the Economy Service is working on an Inward Investment Project This will have an associated website and the idea is to display key sectors spatially using Instant Atlas. The idea is to gauge which business sectors are growing and dynamic data presentation will be used to explain the trends.

Key benefits

  • Presenting data in an easy-to-use format is a fundamental element of the Devonomics website
  • Dynamic data presentation helps non-specialist understand trends more quickly than if they were having to decipher at busy line diagrams
  • Data presentation helps a wider range of users to see where issues are at a glance and ensures evidence-based policy decisions

Other local authority stories and reports that will interest you

Coventry Partnership - Developing a centralised information hub that gives LSP partners the intelligence they need

Bristol City Council - Giving Bristol and its neighbourhoods access to local data in a visually compelling and easy-to-understand way




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News and Articles

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Arizona Department of Health Services | ‘Making data presentation meaningful when dealing with low rates of population density’

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The Institute for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of Texas | ‘Making data available to the community through easy-to-use data presentation tools’

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Public Health Organization – ”Using data presentation to aid the policy-making process”