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!

Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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Tools and applications for visualising data

Screenshot: visualisation of where does my money go by Jonathan Gray

There’s a huge resource of links to tools, applications and services for visualising data collected here at visualisation magazine.

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Interactive maps help monitor recession geospatially

We’ve produced a set of interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help us to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

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Improving data visualisation for the public sector

Screenshot of home page of improving-visualisation.org

A new resource to help public sector researchers improve the way they visualise data has recently been launched.

DataViz, at www.improving-visualisation.org, is a new website launched by OCSI containing a gallery of visualisation types (which you can browse by tag).

There are also useful case studies on what makes for good visualisation, practical steps for improving visualisation and a review of online visualisation tools.

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Interactive map of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants

We’ve produced an interactive map to show how Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant rates are changing across the region in response to the recession.

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is the main unemployment benefit for working age people who are out of work.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

Open the interactive map (requires Adobe Flash Player)
Download the dataset (XLS, 25kb)
Source: Office for National Statistics, claimant count (not seasonally adjusted)

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Data presentation techniques

On 18 July, several members of the Observatory attended a masterclass on data presentation hosted by the Association of Regional Observatories. Speakers at the event included Ed Swires-Hennessy (Local Government Data Unit, Wales), Alan Smith (Head of Data Visualisation, Office for National Statistics) and Robert Radburn (Research and Information Team, Leicestershire County Council).

It’s going to take some time to work through the wealth of information showcased at the event, but some of the techniques demonstrated there have already provided food for thought. Continue reading

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