Draft new menu structure for wmro.org

West Midlands Regional Observatory logoIt’s just over 12 months since the re-launch of the Observatory’s website www.wmro.org. Since the re-launch last year, our range of research has widened and there is a new focus on particular themes.

To try and help visitors to our website more easily find the research and data they want, I’m considering how best to restructure the menu navigation.

To help in this, I’d really value your feedback on a proposed new menu structure for the website.

Continue reading

Launch of the first Place Survey results

Cobbled lane in HerefordshireResults of the first Place Survey were launched today providing information on people’s perceptions of their local area and the local services they receive.

The survey collects information on 18 national indicators for local government, used to measure local government performance for 152 county councils, metropolitan district councils, London boroughs and unitary authorities.

Communities Secretary John Denham said the results of the Place Survey—based on more than 500,000 people’s views and perceptions about where they live—demonstrates the importance of listening to local people and what they want for their local area.

Continue reading

Crowdsourcing policy, visualising debate and evolving consultation

LocalGovCamp an unconference for local governmentI attended a session on crowdsourcing public policy at the recent LocalGovCamp event, an unconference for local government held in Birmingham.

Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a task traditionally performed by employees or contractors and opening it out to a large group of people. It’s mass collaboration to collectively achieve a task or refine something that already exists into something better.

David Price led an interesting session on crowdsourcing policy, demonstrating how Debategraph—a global debate map—can be used to:

  • Set up a policy debate
  • Open the debate to enable others to collaborate
  • Graphically visualise the issues and inter-relationships within a debate
  • Share and re-use the debates both on and offline

Continue reading

Low carbon economy to face climate change

Earth viewed from spaceThe UK Climate Projections (UKCP09) were published last week. These projections deliver climate information forecasts for the UK and its regions. The purpose of the projections is to provide relevant evidence that can help society and the environment cope with climate change.

The key findings confirm that climate change is a real and challenging issue to face:

“All areas of the UK get warmer, and the warming is greater in summer than in winter. There is little change in the amount of precipitation (rain, hail, snow etc) that falls annually, but it is likely that more of it will fall in the winter, with drier summers, for much of the UK. Sea levels rise, and are greater in the south of the UK than the north.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will lead a programme of action to tackle climate change based on the following five fronts:

Continue reading

Britain’s got (hidden) talent

Open advantage computer room in BirminghamNew reseach has shown that two-thirds of UK workers with specialist skills are not using them in their professional careers.

The Western European Location Skills Audit undertaken by Oxford Intelligence covered eight ‘hard-to-find’ skill sets in ten countries.

The research showed that the UK ranks first in the Location Skills Index and either first or second in Technical IT, Engineering, Financial Services and Food Technologies.

Continue reading

UK Climate Projections 2009

UKCP09 report

UKCP09 report

Today saw the publication of the long awaited UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09).

UKCP09 is the fifth time such climate information has been produced for the UK.

Funded by Defra, and based on sound science and projections provided by the Met Office, UKCP09 aims to meet the needs of a wide range of users who want to assess potential impacts of the future climate and explore adaptation options to address those impacts. Continue reading

Unemployment rises again in the West Midlands

Office for National Statistics logoUnemployment in the West Midlands grew by a further 39,000 in the three months to April 2009 and has now reached its highest level since 1994.

Data released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there are now just under quarter of a million people (249,000) out of work in the region giving an unemployment rate of 9.3%.

This is the highest unemployment rate of all the English regions and two percentage points higher than the national rate of 7.3%. At 9.3%, the unemployment rate has increased by nearly three percentage points on the same period a year ago making the West Midlands the worst affected region.

Continue reading