Interactive maps – beyond election results

Media coverage of yesterday’s general elections has included many interactive online maps. Voters have been able to explore the election votes in different ways, seeing who won what where, and how close the contests were.

Here at the Observatory, we use InstantAtlas software to produce this kind of map. We’ve produced a map of yesterday’s election results as an example, but in fact we have many other maps available covering a wide range of topics. For example, Jobseeker’s Allowance claims by ward or the results of the place survey, which asked residents how they felt about their local government.

Looking at these kinds of data geographically can often be illuminating; maps can often reveal patterns that the raw data alone wouldn’t reveal. At the Observatory, the spatial dimension is something we’re always considering – maps aren’t just for election time!

Implications of 2009 research and development scoreboard for West Midlands

The 2009 R&D Scoreboard, produced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, examines the research and development spending of 1,000 UK companies. Dubbed the UK1000, these are the businesses which invested the largest amounts in R&D.

The Scoreboard does not measure total research and development spending, merely the biggest investors, so some substantial businesses (not to mention the wider business population) are not captured in the figures.

The Scoreboard also considers the top 1,000 companies globally (G1000), which includes only a subset of the UK1000, in order to make international comparisons.

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Electronic marketplaces: a way to tackle worklessness?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have just published a think-piece on electronic markets (pdf, 1.09mb) by Wingham Rowan, project director of Slivers-of-Time.

The underlying premise is simple: there are plenty of people who would like to work, but can’t commit to regular hours because of family commitments or recurring medical conditions.

There are also lots of businesses which could benefit from hiring people for an hour or two at a time at short notice, without all of the overheads associated with traditional recruitment agencies.

Slivers-of-Time working is designed to connect the two using online electronic marketplaces—a sort of ‘eBay for jobs’—in a way that could help ease workless people back into the workforce and supply businesses with a flexible pool of vouchsafed, accredited labour.

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Research on women’s enterprise in the West Midlands

Woman walking through offices at Pump House ShrewsburyIn December 2009, the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Expertise (WECOE) held a dissemination event marking the end of their project on women’s enterprise.

The event gave a platform to a large range of speakers, from ministers of parliament to academic researchers.

Rosie Winterton MP reviewed the progress of government policy in the sphere of women’s enterprise, and indicated future policy directions.

Professor Mark Hart spoke of his work (Women and entrepreneurial activity in the West Midlands: evidence from GEM 2002-08, pdf, 287kb) with data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor which indicates that the primary factor hampering the development of women’s enterprise in the West Midlands is their disproportionate fear of failure. This is an important finding which suggests a clear direction for policy makers to take.

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Regional innovation scoreboard imminent

Most of the time we compare the relative performance of the West Midlands to that of other English regions, but how do we compare with other regions in the wider EU?

INNO Metric’s 2006 Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS) made such comparisons, assessing data from over two hundred regions across twenty-five states of the EU to assess their relative performance in innovation. In a few weeks’ time, they will release an updated edition of the RIS using the latest available data to compare and contrast innovation performance across the EU.

Last Friday, we attended INNO Metric’s validation workshop in London to gain an understanding of the new RIS.

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Place Survey results 2008

Logo of Department for Communities and Local GovernmentThe results of the Place Survey 2008 have recently been released.

This is a national survey administered by local authorities. It aims to collect consistent national data on the way people feel about their local area and the way in which their local authority is run.

We can use the results of the place survey to compare the West Midlands region as a whole to other English regions, and to compare local authorities within the West Midlands to one another.

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Small and medium-sized enterprise 2007 statistics published

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has just published its 2007 Statistics on Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK and its regions, including a statistical press release and a suite of data tables.

This year’s release includes the bi-annual regional breakdown of the national figures, listing the numbers of enterprises of various sizes in the West Midlands and other regions. The figures suggest several changes since 2005: the total number of enterprises increased by more than 20 000 to over 375 000, and total turnover increased by 10% to more than £210 billion.

Contributions to turnover were not even. 0.1% of all West Midlands enterprises employed 37% of the region’s employees, and contributed to 42% of the turnover.

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