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Bristol City Council

Giving Bristol and its neighbourhoods access to local data in a visually compelling and easy-to-understand way


The Bristol City Council Corporate GIS Support team is providing the council and the Bristol Partnership with an online resource to share intelligence, through maps, atlases, statistical reports and dynamic reports about life in Bristol and its neighbourhoods.

We spoke to Mark Newman, Senior GIS Analyst, Bristol City Council to find out more about the project. Mark explained that Bristol City Council initially saw the potential for InstantAtlas as a platform for geodata visualisation. The council has been a pioneer and strong advocate for digital technology and its benefits on the engagement between general public and Local Authority, and on the social, economic and cultural aspects of a connected City. Its Open Data portal has helped it to make the most of tools like InstantAtlas.

Getting started

The council identified a number of groups who were likely to be users of the service. Within the council this included analysts within the different business units, service managers as well as senior member of the council who would need to access data for strategic overview. In the wider Bristol Partnership and beyond this included charities, organisations needing evidence for funding, academics and the citizens of Bristol. To cope with the range of user skills the data visualisation had to work for people with GIS experience and those without.

Bristol Partnership is the Local Strategic Partnership

Meeting the need

Users are now able to access a wide range of data through the Bristol data profiles website ( This includes Bristol statistics and census information and much of this information is used by the council as evidence on which to base its plans and policies. Indicators of quality of life in Bristol are also available. The Quality of Life in your Neighbourhood survey began in 2001 and provides an annual snapshot of quality of life in Bristol. It gives residents an opportunity to voice their opinions about quality of life issues close to their hearts. Questions are asked covering a wide variety of topics ranging from perception of crime to access to services and satisfaction with various aspects of the neighbourhood. Residents are selected at random from the electoral register. Each year between 4000 and 6000 residents respond allowing analysis to be taken down to ward level and equalities group. Indicators of Quality of life measure helps the council and its partners understand whether Bristol is becoming a more sustainable city and a better or worse place to live.Results form part of the evidence to inform service planning.

Mark believes that for the council and its partners the data profiles website is putting relevant data at fingertips of those who need it and it has been particularly useful when it has come to joint projects such as the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

Mark says: “The Bristol data profiles website has been extremely useful. For example, we used to get a lot of questions about specific data sets from different users. We can now direct them to the site where they can either find what they want straight away, or they can work with existing datasets to create what they need.”

Further developments

The feedback from existing users has been very positive but Mark and the team are continually looking head. One of the challenges has been to ensure that data is presented in a format that is both comprehensible and engaging. Interaction with users and data owners will help in this respect. A number of new profiles and dynamic reports are being planned.

Key Benefits

  • Managing a wide variety of statistical data from sources across the strategic partnership can be managed from a central repository.
  • Users do not have to be GIS experts to understand local trends Projects like the JSNA are more easily-informed with geodata visualisation now at everyone’s fingertips
  • Less time is responding to data requests from individual partners

Learn more about Local Information Systems

Tell your Colleagues

Other InstantAtlas local authority stories and reports that will interest you

London Borough of Newham - How the London Borough of Newham is supporting evidence-based policy-making and decision-making through data presentation - Watch Newham's IAUC 2012 presentation

Cumbria Intelligence Observatory - Bringing consistency to statutory assessment through online data visualisation

Suffolk Data Observatory - Bringing partner organisations closer together through a shared intelligence platform

Trafford Council - Helping local communities in Trafford represent themselves and highlight their needs using an online interactive data hub - Watch Trafford's IAUC 2012 presentation

Brighton and Hove Local Information Service - Using a Local Information System to improve data sharing and needs assessment

Devon County Council - Using a shared online resource to ensure Devon’s strategic partners make evidence-based decisions using the same data

Havering Data Intelligence Hub - Ensuring strategic partners are able to access data and get a better understanding of local need

InstantAtlas User Conference 2012 (UK)

IAUC 2012

See also:

Government News Stories

Local Government examples of InstantAtlas dynamic reports


Video Tutorials (hosted on YouTube)

InstantAtlas Essentials Training Playlist

InstantAtlas Desktop Tools Playlist

InstantAtlas Dynamic Reports Playlist

InstantAtlas Server Playlist

News and Articles


Arizona Department of Health Services | ‘Making data presentation meaningful when dealing with low rates of population density’


The Institute for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of Texas | ‘Making data available to the community through easy-to-use data presentation tools’


Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) – ”How the Pan American Health Organization is using data presentation to aid the policy-making process”