‘Harrow Informed, a local information system that is helping more people access intelligence about health, crime and economic activity’
Harrow Informed is a local information system (LIS) that was commissioned by the Harrow Chief Executives Group and implemented as a partnership project by the Joint Analytical Group (which includes Harrow Council, Harrow Police and public health analysts). The aim was to develop an information hub that could be used to inform the development of strategy across the council and its partners.
The Corporate Performance team at Harrow Council was responsible for developing the LIS. It decided that information would be best presented in a visual format and having seen other Local Authorities using InstantAtlas decided to follow suit. Several workshops and information sessions were held for data analysts, managers and councillors to help the team understand what the LIS should look like and identify which data should be used. Downloading the data from different websites and formatting was an initial concern and the team opted to use OCSI data packs, which took a familiar approach to data collection and reduced officer data time and resource.
A beta LIS was developed and further workshops identified that users were being presented with too much information. Solakha Lal, Management Information Development Officer, says: “It was very useful to hear what people thought and as a result we renamed some of the data views and made a concerted effort to ensure the system didn’t overload users with data.”
The next challenge was to ensure that the LIS could be integrated into Harrow Council’s main website. “It took some time for us to synch it securely with the Harrow website, but this was important for us as the Harrow.gov.uk website is a main signpost into the system,” says Solakha.
Meeting the need
As soon as Harrow Informed went live on the front page of the council’s website it was given marketing support with a press release to local media. At the time Councillor Graham Henson said: “The beauty of the site is that all the information is together in one place. We use this data to help us shape our decisions about services, so it’s important that residents can see it too.”
A number of feedback channels were used to gauge reaction and Solakha says councillors and staff were all pleased with what they had seen. “It’s all about the user experience and making sure that people with different levels of knowledge and interest get what they want,” she says.
Watch Solakha's presentation at the InstantAtlas 2012 User Conference in London
The team has been working to ensure that keyword searches bring up the relevant page within the site and Solakha says users like Harrow Informed because it presents data at ward and borough level including all London boroughs. “One example of the way it has helped us is to show is although the perceived level of crime is relatively high the actual crime rates in the area are lower than all our neighbouring boroughs.”
The team’s primary focus is on the user experience so it continues to take account of user statistics and feedback. This means keeping pace with user statistics (i.e. what is being used, what is popular and not). It will also be working with schools in the borough to help them understand how the information can be used and support a greater understanding of individual communities.
Solakha’s top technical tip
When designing your Profiles try to place useful external weblinks and links to other Profiles in your system to enrich and inform the user experience.
Harrow Informed Local Information System was developed with InstantAtlas Server
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