Keeping up to date with the latest data and statistics

UK National StatisticsBarely a day goes by without an article on the morning news bulletin announcing, “according to the latest figures…” or “statistics released today show that…”

There’s a wealth of data being collected, analysed and published and sometimes you’re left wondering, “how do I keep up with these data releases?”

One of the services I use to help stay on top of the latest available data from central government is the RSS feed from the UK Statistics Authority.

The UK Statistics Authority was set-up by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and its objective is to promote and safeguard the quality of official statistics that serve the public good. It is also required to safeguard the comprehensiveness of official statistics, and ensure good practice in relation to official statistics. It has three main functions, one of which is to monitor and report on all UK official statistics, wherever produced.

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Evaluation of business support services

Business Link logoBusiness support services such as Business Link, Manufacturing Advisory Service and Train to Gain are an important part of the assistance offered to business to help them start, grow and prosper.

The last three years have seen significant changes in the way this support has been organised and delivered and the time is now right to evaluate how things are working out and what changes might be beneficial.

The way in which these services are delivered varies from region to region, so each region is evaluating their services differently. Here in the West Midlands, the Observatory has been asked to manage the research and analysis part of the evaluation. The work is being done speedily and will complete by the end of November.

Observatory on BBC1 Politics Show

The Observatory’s State of the Region Report will feature on the regional section of the BBC’s Politics Show this Sunday (26th Oct 08). The programme starts at 12pm on BBC1. Hope you get chance to watch.

ADDED 28/10/08: The article can be viewed on the BBC’s iplayer. The Observatory features about 43 minutes in and will be available until next Sunday (02/11/08).

70 posts and onwards: WMRO’s social media journey

Students at Aston University with laptopThis Observations site was started at the end of July 2008. The main reason for the site, as the tagline at the top suggests, is to highlight, comment on and signpost to data and intelligence relating to the West Midlands.

After three months and 70 posts, it seems like a good time to quickly review what has happened and gather some ideas on going forward.

It”d be great to learn if the posts written so far on Observations are interesting to you? Are we writing about the right topics? Are there specific topics that we’re not covering that you think should be discussed? Please do add your comments.

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Briefings on current and forthcoming Observatory research

At our recent Annual Conference there were four printed briefing papers on the Observatory booth. These briefing papers introduce four key current and forthcoming research projects.

If you didn’t get a copy, the briefings are available to download below:

West Midlands plans “zero waste” region

The Environment Minister, Jane Kennedy, today announced plans for size ‘Zero Waste Places’ and amongst them was the West Midlands.

Under the new plans, the West Midlands will create a Zero Waste Region, focusing on businesses and organisations that produce a large quantity of waste, identifying region-wide waste infrastructure needs, improving cooperation and cutting business waste right across the region.

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Acknowledging the cross-sector importance of culture

Cover of State of the Region Report 2008October has been an important month for colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

Not only was the State of the Region Report 2008 launched, along with the Regional Integrated Economic Assessment, the Observatory held its annual conference, attracting a good cross-section of the region’s key thinkers and policy-makers. In all three cases, the importance of culture, particularly to the region’s economy, was highlighted.

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