Updated resource guide for Local Economic Assessments

Understanding local factors in a local area’s economic development, how these have developed, how they’re predicted to develop, and which factors are (or have potential to be) particularly significant — will be essential in informing developing Local Enterpise Partnerships (LEPs) and economic strategies. Equally, the functional relationships between local areas is likely to become more important in policy-making.

With regions no longer the focus of evidence-gathering and policy-making, and an increased emphasis on local decision-making, Local Economic Assessments are an opportunity to focus the collection of evidence to understand the impact of new national policies and to develop local economic ‘stories of place.’

The intelligence in a Local Economic Assessment can also highlight where resources can most productively be targeted to improve local economic development.

To help Local Authorities prepare their Assessments, we’ve created a new web-based resource guide, building on an earlier version circulated in May. This addition to the Observatory’s resource catalogue signposts resources relevant to Local Economic Assessments produced by a range of organisations, as well as the Observatory’s own research.

The resources are grouped into six areas, based on the themes set out in LEA guidance published in March 2010. While that guidance is no longer statutory, it’s still a useful framework to draw on.

The themes you can search by are:

Within each theme, you can search for:

  • Data sources: datasets and primary research
  • Analysis: interpretation of data and other evidence in the West Midlands and local authorities
  • Guidance documents: examples and methodologies for you to follow if you wish
  • Other resources: examples of research from outside the West Midlands, and useful links to other websites and research networks

We hope you find this resource guide useful. You can be notified when new resources are added via this RSS feed or email alert. If you have resources you think others would find useful, please submit them to our Resource Catalogue (requires login) or contact stephen.howarth@wmro.org.

Summary of data, mashups and APIs event

Birmigham Social Media CafeLast Wednesday, I went to an event at Fazeley Studios in Birmingham to explore innovative, useful and important applications of data.

The event — titled Data, Mashups and APIs — was organised by Birmingham Social Media Cafe and sponsored by The Guardian, Barefoot Wine and Screen WM.

I won’t try and summarise the whole event. A huge amount of material was covered and Chris Unitt has already posted this very detailed round up pulling together all of the talks and links.

However, I thought I’d pull out a couple of highlights.

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Give us a Twirl!

twirlThe Observatory’s resource catalogue continues to grow, giving policy and decision makers across the West Midlands improved access to data and research to support evidence-based decision making.

The development and growth of the catalogue has been achieved by working in partnership with West Midlands and sub-regional organisations to help share and publicise data and research about the West Midlands. Organisations such as Coventry City Council, Centro and Advantage West Midlands have all worked with us to share their intelligence through the catalogue.

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Substance misuse in the West Midlands

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse has today published its report, Getting to grips with substance misuse among young people (pdf, 54kb), which indicates that increasing numbers of teenagers in the West Midlands are receiving help for drug and alcohol problems through increased access to services in the region.

The report shows that the vast majority of the 2,447 young people helped with drug and alcohol problems in the West Midlands last year received specialist treatment such as counselling-based services to overcome harms caused by cannabis or alcohol use and reduce further risks to their health and wellbeing.

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Making information more accessible

InstantAtlas maps

InstantAtlas maps

How to make complex information available to a wider audience and how to make it more easily understand? Those were questions being considered in Coventry this week.

On Tuesday 20th January, Coventry City Council hosted a meeting designed to share ideas on how regional partners were using software to make their information more readily available.

The main focus of the event was Geowise’s InstantAtlas tool, which is used by many public sector organisations to provide a nice clear visual interpretation of the data they hold.

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Got something useful you’d like to share?

As part of our strategic objectives, we aim to provide effective access to intelligence to encourage higher standards of evidence-​based decision-​making. One of the ways in which we do this is by providing a resource catalogue of research, data and intelligence about the West Midlands and its sub-regions.

The catalogue is built through contributions from Observatory staff and others around the region who want to share research that they’ve produced or found useful themselves. However, we recognise that sometimes people don’t have the time to complete a full submission to the catalogue, so we’ve introduced a new quick recommend a resource form.

All you need to enter on the recommend a resource form is the title of the resource and URL where it is located, along with your email address in case we need to contact you with any queries about it.

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Sharing intelligence from Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire

Yesterday, I attended the Coventry, Solihull and Wawickshire Researchers’ Forum to demonstrate the Observatory’s Resource Catalogue and show how the data and intelligence in the catalogue might support the work that they’re engaged in, and also to encourage further contributions to the catalogue from members of the forum to help share their data and intelligence across the region and sub-region.

The Resource Catalogue is available through the Observatory’s website and collects research, data and policy documents from across the West Midlands to create a fully searchable database for policy makers, decision makers, researchers and anyone else to access. There are contributions from organisations across the public, private and third sectors and what is particularly useful is that almost all are free and available immediately via a web-link.

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