Mott MacDonald Group | How data presentation is helping local authorities in Merseyside
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The Mott MacDonald Group is a diverse management, engineering and development consultancy delivering solutions for public and private organisations. It is currently running Merseyside’s Local Authority Information Service (MIS). This service was originally established in 1986 to avoid the need for each district to invest in its own information service.
The principal remit of the Local Authority Information Service is to provide an information and intelligence service to the Greater Merseyside Local Authorities, district councils and partner organisations including Merseytravel and Merseyside Police. It provides a broad range of mapping and GIS services, developing new tailored solutions where required, including accessibility modelling, web-based solutions and GIS training and advice. However, it also runs ad hoc projects for Primary Care Trusts and many private sector businesses such as Jaguar Cars and Unilever Research and Development.
We spoke to Dr. David Booth at MIS about its work. Dr Booth started working for the service in 1992 and installed a desktop GIS solution with dedicated BT lines. However as the PC revolution gathered pace the service no longer used a wide area network and this began to present some issues in terms of the GIS work they were doing.
For example, they were unable to share resources. There was a gap between the end of the wide area network (WAN) and the beginning of effective email, then intra/internet communications which meant data had to be sent out on disk, then CD.
In 2009 a colleague attending the LARIA conference met the team from InstantAtlas and realised that the desktop data presentation tool could be the answer. The team carried out some comparisons and decided that InstantAtlas was the best option for MIS.
Meeting the need
MIS has access to a great deal of socioeconomic data and employs InstantAtlas to present data on unemployment. For example it has compiled reports on those individuals who are not in education, employment, training (NEETs).
It has also carried out work using a housing sustainability index which combines a number of data sets (deprivations, arrears notices and housing supply). In addition it has helped the Fire Service with data presentation on incidents.
Dr. Booth explains that its access to data sets through each Local Authority means that data presentation tools are likely to become a useful way to help local communities better understand patterns of need and demand. This means less emphasis on monitoring and measuring, which was the norm under the last government.
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