Helping local communities in Trafford represent themselves and highlight their needs using an online interactive data hub
Trafford Council has been an advocate of open data since May 2010 when the council took the decision to create an open data page on its website to allow access to numerous data it collects. This includes: council tax, business rates, location data, such as for schools and leisure centres and election results.
However, it wanted to use the data more effectively to create an intelligence resource. With NESTA funding and support from a steering group which included other Greater Manchester local authorities it embarked on an initiative called DataGM – a platform that would allow data sharing across Greater Manchester.
Alongside its work with DataGM, Trafford also wanted to develop its own data sharing initiative and went out to tender for a solution that would enable it to develop what it saw as a data observatory for Trafford.
InstantAtlas was successful and started working with Trafford Council on developing InfoTrafford using IA Server. Executive Councillor for Transformation and Resources Alex Williams explains that at the core of the project was a desire to make non personal data and statistics based around the delivery of public services available to the public so they could engage with the outcomes of council decisions on services. That meant creating a user-friendly interface. Cllr Williams says: “We also wanted to make sure voluntary and community organisations could access rich data to support funding bids – by demonstrating need.”
As for the data, InfoTrafford is being seen as Trafford partnership initiative which means a number of organisations are involved in data sharing - from police and housing to health services. InfoTrafford also contracted to use OCSI data packs to ensure data is current and reliable. This has also prompted partners to think about the data they are sharing and how they can improve.
Meeting the need
Although the website has been up and running since July 2011, the public launch (January 2012) has just taken place. “We had 25,000 hits within four weeks in November 2011 so we expect that once we have promoted the website, we are likely to see many more users,” says Cllr Williams.
Feedback from initial users has been very positive. “People love that it is accessible, user friendly and engaging,” adds Cllr Williams.
In addition the team have carried out some work looking at the efficiency savings that could be made by saving time and resources by having data in one place, an estimated potential £850,000 saving per authority across Greater Manchester.
Cllr Williams says one of the future projects will be about increasing the presentation of time series analysis so managers at Trafford Council can see the impact of the services they oversee. The ultimate aim would be for different agencies to be able to see the impact of each of their interventions to encourage greater collaborative working between them. “Once you can see the impact of an intervention you can add in a cost analysis to match resource spending to outcomes which would be a powerful tool.”
Other InstantAtlas local authority stories and reports that will interest you
Suffolk Data Observatory - Bringing partner organisations closer together through a shared intelligence platform
Bristol City Council - Giving Bristol and its neighbourhoods access to local data in a visually compelling and easy-to-understand way
Staffordshire Data Observatory - Giving local strategic partners the data they need to make commissioning decisions in a customisable format
Devon County Council - Using a shared online resource to ensure Devon’s strategic partners make evidence-based decisions using the same data
Looking to develop a data observatory? - Find out more here