Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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Tools and applications for visualising data

Screenshot: visualisation of where does my money go by Jonathan Gray

There’s a huge resource of links to tools, applications and services for visualising data collected here at visualisation magazine.

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Making the invisible visible: matching West Midlands ICT SMEs with business opportunities

West Midlands ICT Cluster AWMistThis is a guest post written by Brian Prangle with contributions from Andrew Mackenzie.

West Midlands Regional Development Agency, Advantage West  Midlands (AWM) has unveiled its latest initiative to stimulate and develop the high technology sector.

AWMist (A Web Map-based Information Search Tool) is the first regional interface of its kind where collaboration, business opportunity building, and partnerships can be easily forged between the region’s ICT SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) and those who can support and assist them, such as funding agencies, universities and business support projects.

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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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Roundup from Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

Yesterday’s event at Millennium Point looked at the whys and hows of making public data more accessible.

There were also some practical discussions looking at using social media and online tools to improve sharing data and information.

Richard Wilson, from Sandwell PCT and Chair of the Population & Society Group, chaired the day. You can listen to his introduction:

This post rounds up all the main speakers and resources from the event.

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Follow ‘Sharing Information Digitally’ event live

You can keep up-to-date with comments and tweets about this event as it unfolds on 7th October using this CoverItLive page.

You can add comments through the CoverItLive page or by sending a tweet containing the hashtag #wmrosid.

All the content surrounding the event—photos, useful links, videos, blog posts, tweets, and so on—is aggregated on this Pagecast. Again, tag any content you want to share with wmrosid.

The event is on Wednesday, 7th October 2009. Attendees are arriving from 9:30am and we’ll get underway at 10am, which is when the CoverItLive page will open.

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.

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Web service API for Observatory’s search service

Screenshot of website sources included in web service API

A new search engine went live on the Observatory’s website last month. The aim is to provide you with better search results — ranked by relevancy — and more detailed controls over refinements to your search results.

Another feature is that the search service provides search results from other regional organisations’ websites; the search isn’t limited to the pages within wmro.org.

Also, the search service is open for use by other organisations. The search functions are exposed as a web service API, which developers can use to query our search index and display the results in their own websites or applications.

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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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Better ways to share information digitally

Green human figures connected by blue lines

The Observatory’s Population & Society Group is planning a seminar in the summer to investigate and discuss how research organisations in the West Midlands can get better at sharing information digitally. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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