visualize | communicate | ENGAGE
The National Assembly for Wales is a democratically elected body which represents the interests of Wales and its people. As well as making laws it also holds the Welsh Government to account. One of its most important roles is to examine what the government does, asking detailed questions about its actions and policies.
The Research Service provides expert and impartial research and information to support Assembly Members and committees in their work. To help them do this effectively, the Research Service wanted to provide a self-service programme which would enable Members and their support staff to access statistics about their particular area by constituency. We spoke to Sam Jones from the Assembly Research Service about the importance of the programme and how InstantAtlas software was used.
When did you first find out about Instant Atlas?
We heard about it through the Northern Ireland Assembly, which is our equivalent in Northern Ireland. A member of staff at the Assembly was seconded to show us InstantAtlas and how to use it.
What was the project you were working on?
As the democratically elected body representing the interests of Wales and its citizens, the National Assembly for Wales (NAW) wanted to ensure its Members could get a detailed understanding of each local area. We were looking to find a simple and easy way to present and publish statistical data by constituency, improving both the accessibility and the availability of such data.
It was important to make sure that the data was easy to access. This would also help to reduce the number of requests made to the Assembly Research Service for data which was already in the public domain.
Three types of atlas were produced: claimant count unemployment data by parliamentary constituency, interactive constituency profiles from 2011 Census data and a youth engagement atlas which would provide information about levels of engagement with young people in schools, further education and community facilities.
How did you use interactive mapping software?
Claimant county unemployment data: We created four separate atlases for each year dating back to 2012. Each atlas allows the user to see a snapshot for each month, enabling a comparison with other constituencies. It also shows a change over time for each constituency.
Interactive Constituency Profiles from 2011 Census data: Key statistics were plotted by constituency, allowing comparisons not just locally but between the Electoral Regions of the NAW and national data for Wales and England. This allows the user to see how each constituency is performing compared to the national average. The feature card comes into its own here as it allows the user to see all the statistics for a constituency at one time, whereas maps and charts allow comparisons between constituencies.
Youth engagement programme: This allows Members to measure communication with young people in various different settings, such as primary and secondary education. By logging any outreach meetings that were made in a particular setting, the data was then displayed as an InstantAtlas report allowing the Assembly to see where they had been and arrange visits for constituencies that needed more engagement.
How does the programme benefit users?
The atlases are easy to use and is accessible to a wide range of people whether they are experts or not. The atlases gives users the chance to access information as and when they need it. The majority of atlases are now available to the general public and some have been incorporated into the induction sessions for new staff working for Assembly Members. We needed a web tool to provide an easy way of engaging with lots of people. Some options required expert knowledge or the ability to set up and host web-based data base, but InstantAtlas simplified it all.
Benefits of using Instant Atlas:
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