Our Numberhood local data app has now hit a big 10,000 downloads, not quite in the Angry Birds league but still cause for a bit of celebration in the OCSI offices. So, let’s take a look at why we created the app, and how it makes open data useful and mobile.
A good evidence base is essential for neighbourhood and community planning, participatory budgeting, local voluntary groups bidding for funds/ delivering services and a whole host of other uses. And there’s a lot of local data out there that can help.
But from our projects like Rural Evidence (helping community and neighbourhood planning in rural areas) and DataBridge (supporting communities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises to use open data), we know that people haven’t always the time or skills to turn open data into the information they need. And government is also seeing this, with the promised “army of armchair auditors” showing no sign of getting stuck into the mountain of valuable open data now available.
So, we set out to make open data a bit more accessible to local communities – turning the raw data into information that helps highlight the critical issues in the local area.
“Great new app on neighbourhood statistics. Well done OCSI“, Neil McInroy, Chief Executive, Centre for Local Economic Strategies
“New app from OCSI puts local stats in your pocket. Well worth a look“, Toby Blume, Chief Executive, Urban Forum
We wanted the information to be mobile, easy-to-use and available at people’s fingertips. So we joined the growing number of developers working with open data, and produced the Numberhood iPhone / iPad app – “local statistics in your pocket”.
We gathered together datasets that we knew were useful indicators of local areas, pulling data from the Cabinet Office data.gov.uk and our own www.data4nr.net. We then categorised these into themes – the economy, unemployment, health, education & skills, housing, crime, deprivation & low income, the environment and the community.
After long and hard debate about what geographical level to use, in the end we decided on local authority areas. Going to finer-grained neighbourhoods would have meant an enormous amount of data to download (as we know from our Data Packs work), but we’ll be looking at this again in future – not least as part of our NESTA Destination Local bid.
Bringing together the data and geographies, Numberhood gives users the option of selecting any local authority area in England, and quickly visualising the data as graphs, quick statistics and descriptions. Text commentary and data visualisations compare the local area against national averages, and identify trends over time.
This simple tool for local area statistics provides a really quick and easy way of identifying how a local area is doing, saving users from delving through mountains of raw datasets:
“A great resource for checking info in meetings conferences and in a hurry… Numberhood really saves time and frustration on having to locate this sort of information“, Tor Seacombe, Housing Association
“Your friendly Numberhood – cool local stats app to assist evidence based policy“, Dan Jellinek, eGovernment Bulletin
“An excellent app making local data accessible and understandable. Will be really useful for helping people shape their areas through evidence-based neighbourhood planning, and for benchmarking performance. Great value“, Jo Ivens, Independent Policy Adviser
“A very handy little app for anyone interested in their local area or even the wider country to find out and interpret information & statistics in a wide range of areas themselves“, Appstore user
“I work in local government and this vital stuff is usually hidden away in reports that are difficult to find. Now they’re in my pocket. Brilliant!“, Appstore user
“A very handy app for coming up with that vital bit of information on the spot – and impressing your colleagues! A quick reference & useful supplement to JSNAs. Works well and looks good“, Appstore user
Numberhood is free to download for iPhone and iPad from the App Store, with Android and Blackberry versions following in future. The free app covers 11 headline indicators, with an in-app purchase (£1.49p) opening up 70 more indicators.
As always, we’d love to hear from you with any comments, suggestions for improvement, or queries about the data or functionality. Email/ call us on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 1273 810 270, or find more info at www.numberhood.net