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.

Open data in Warwickshire

Warwickshire County CouncilGuest blog post by Jim Morton, Applications Architect at Warwickshire County Council

Last week we launched the Warwickshire Open Data site at http://opendata.warwickshire.gov.uk, joining other authorities such as London, Lincoln, Lichfield and Kent who have already started opening up their data to the public.

We hope that it will provide a greater level of transparency about the work of the council, as well as stimulating the development of websites and applications that can make use of our data, to provide new benefits to our citizens and visitors to the area.

It is going to take a while to build the site up as the focal point for all of our public facing information but we have taken some positive steps to build the foundations of how we should work with data from now on.

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Feedback on Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

We hosted an event on Sharing Information Digitally on 7th October 2009 at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

We tried a new structure for this event—part traditional presentations, part practical sessions—and thought we’d share some feedback on the event (from attendees and ourselves).

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Observatory hosting event on sharing information digitally

Cutout figures connected by green light

The Observatory’s Population & Society Group is hosting an event exploring the whys and hows of making public data more accessible. We’ll also look at using social media to improve sharing data and information.

This full-day event will be held in Birmingham on 7th October. With speakers from the Guardian’s Free Our Data campaign, Lichfield District Council, Digital Birmingham and We Share Stuff, this will be an informative and practical day for anyone involved in data and information sharing in the West Midlands.

(Updated 5th Oct: the event is now fully booked).

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New report on making the most of information to improve services

Is there something I should know? report coverThe Audit Commission has published the report Is there something I should know? (PDF, 1.28mb) looking at the way local councils use information to make decisions.

The report’s purpose is to encourage senior members of local councils to be more demanding about the information they seek, and use, during the decision making process.

The report highlighted that:

  • 9 out of 10 councils believe good quality information is a top priority
  • However, less than 5% of councils have excellent quality data
  • 65% of councils face problems sharing data externally
  • 80% of councils say a lack of in-depth analysis is a major problem
  • Two thirds of councils say members struggle to understand information, but half of all councils provide no formal training in the area and almost a quarter provide no support at all

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Place matters

UK mapA recent discussion between a panel of experts assembled by the Government Computing magazine and ESRI highlighted that the UK needs to make the most of  its location or geographical data.

Participants, including Brian Higgs from the Observatory’s Geographical Information group, believe that organisations need to encourage the sharing of location specific data in order to improve decision making processes.

Location information is perceived as a critical element of  the contingency planning  system and can be used to understand what or who is physically at risk, and to assess social and economic value.

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Seminars at Herefordshire Information and Research Network

Herefordshire PartnershipThe Herefordshire Information and Research Network are hosting a series of seminars over 2009–2010.

Each seminar includes a presentation on a specific topic, updates by participants on their own research activities and opportunities for networking.

Seminars planned for later this year include the State of Herefordshire Report 2009 and results of the Herefordshire quality of life survey.

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