Creating dynamic online reports for needs assessment at Warwickshire County Council
Warwickshire Observatory is the home for information and intelligence about Warwickshire and its people. Its aim is to be a centre of excellence in research, data collection and analysis to support evidence-based policy-making across the public sector in Warwickshire.
The observatory undertakes work for, and in partnership with, a wide range of customers across the county council and other partner organisations. Paul Larcombe is Corporate GIS Manager and he explains that although the observatory has used GIS software in the past, it has only recently developed a local information system (LIS).
“We found that we were getting more queries from the public and it was taking time to find answers so we decided that an LIS would help people find the answers themselves,” he says.
The team looked at a range of suppliers but decided to go with interactive map building software from InstantAtas which was bought in tandem with Coventry City Council. A successful funding bid meant the team was able to start building the LIS and this also covered the purchase of OCSI data packs.
“The LIS is a still a work in progress but the focus to date has been on desktop dynamic reports and we have a range of live content supporting the JSNA (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment),” says Paul.
Meeting the need
The observatory has used dynamic reports to present some of the annual Quality of Life survey results, and the latest version of this report has just received a LARIA Research Impact Award for the Best Use of Public Data 2013. The survey uses a wide range of economic, social and environmental indicators to identify issues and assess changes affecting the quality of life of Warwickshire’s residents. The reports gives users an accessible reference tool for how quality of life in Warwickshire and its five districts is changing and how Warwickshire compares with elsewhere in the UK.
“The feedback has been very good and we have pushed the dynamic reports out to a number of different partner organisations including presentations to Clinical Commissioning Groups. They like the fact that they can download data and maps and include in their own reports.”
Paul says that everyone who has used the reports has liked them and that for a relatively small observatory it is popular with a core group of users. “Our intention is to get people using the InstantAtlas Desktop reports and get them interested enough to want to have greater input,” says Paul.
The observatory has been developing a test server alongside the live server to bring the content in line with the county council’s ten strategic aims. This has meant creating new profiles and a move to InstantAtlas Server which will help the team update data automatically. “Once we have made the test server live, we will look again at the breadth and depth of the information that is available. One of the projects that will be high on our list is working with the waste management teams to publish more data in the public domain,” says Paul.
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