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.

It’s interesting to see how other public sector organisations approach visualising employment data, as in this case study on work by South Tyneside’s Employment Team.

The DataViz site is one of the outputs from a wider project commissioned by Communities and Local Government to:

“better understand the potential for visualisation solutions to analyse and communicate intelligence, and provide guidance for national and local analysts on making best use of visualisation.”

There’s also a research report accompanying the project.

This is an area I’m really interested in pursuing – and one which the Observatory is increasingly exploring to help communicate the research and data analysis taking place.

Screenshot of interactive map for Places Survey 2008 results analysisRecent visualisation examples by the Observatory include regional analysis of Place Survey Results 2008. The InstantAtlas Area Profile template was used to visualise results for the West Midlands in this interactive map.

The map is backed up by a series of visualisations in this presentation (PDF, 1.52mb). The visualisations were made using MapInfo.

Government Office West Midlands (GOWM) said that the Observatory’s analysis of the Place Survey is extremely useful and that they will promote this analysis to their contacts in Local Strategic Partnerships to help them in their local level planning.

Susana, Martin, Rosie Day and I have also been trying out some free web-based visualisation tools. Here are the results of some early experiments:

Hopefully, after more exploration and learning using the DataViz site, we can push the extent—and impact—of the Observatory’s research through increased visualisation.

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