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How a think tank is using data presentation to turn a project on the needs of older people in London into a useful resource


IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research, is the UK’s leading progressive think tank, producing rigorous research and innovative policy ideas. IPPR publishes more than 50 reports each year and it uses its website as a hub for progressive thinking.

Getting started

One of its recent projects was supported by the City Bridge Trust – a charity that supports charitable activity benefitting Greater London. The project culminated in a report Older Londoners that highlighted the urgent need to tackle social isolation among the oldest members in society. It found that the number of people in London aged over-65 is expected to rise by a third in the next 20 years and those aged over 90, by 95 per cent.

Senior research fellow Kayte Lawton says: “It was a project looking at ageing and growing problems faced by the over-80s. This is a group of people who are often classed with the over-65s but we wanted to differentiate the needs of this older group. They often have greater social care and health needs.”

Kayte says the project was driven partly by the desire to pull information about this age group together and also by the need to develop services for this group living in London. “We often think of London as a place where young people live and services tend to be geared towards them. We wanted policymakers to be aware of the needs of this older age group,” she says.

Having pulled information together from a number of sources, IPPR wanted to make the data available to a range of users including London-focused charities and third sector organisations.

Meeting the need

“We wanted to give people access to information which they could use to hold local councils to account by assessing the way that services are being provided in relation to need”.

“We felt InstantAtlas would help us do this,” says Kayte. “We wanted to use data presentation to help bring different information together. By combining datasets we are able to give users access to insight covering a number of areas.” Presenting the insight in a format that is easy to access and interpret was also a reason for choosing InstantAtlas. “We realised there would be non-specialist users who would want to find this sort of data.”

IPPR is currently building the website, which will give users access to demographic information (including age and life-expectancy) alongside information about the services currently being provided to older people. This will include care services and user satisfaction. The site will also provide information on income and benefits.

Kayte says: “This is the first time IPPR has done something like this but we believe it will be very powerful because it will bring a number of dimensions together. We are going to make it clear that this is a resource for people to get what they want out of it.”

“We anticipate that it will raise our profile beyond the Westminster and Whitehall circles where a great deal of our output is found at the moment.”

population analysis mapping and reporting  

Future developments

Kayte says that future developments will depend on how the web resource is used but she says it could develop into a new area of activity for IPPR. Having invested in the software, IPPR is keen to identify further opportunities for using Instant Atlas to make its research accessible to a wider audience, and bring to life the evidence that supports its policy recommendations.

Key benefits

  • Charities and other third sector organisations will have access to a rich resource of information on the over-80s
  • The insight will be available in an easy-to-use format that does not require specialist knowledge to interrogate
  • IPPR is adding a new dimension to its traditional report and research-based activity
  • IPPR is using data presentation to reinforce its recommendations to government on policy for the over-80s

Other InstantAtlas stories and reports that will interest you

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Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) - Using data visualisation to highlight patterns of debt in the United Kingdom

Greater London Authority (GLA) - How data visualisation is helping the Greater London Authority meet its objectives

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