How the London Borough of Croydon is providing accurate and relevant demographic information for Croydon with the help of interactive mapping software

The London Borough of Croydon provides a large number of services for local people, businesses and visitors to the borough, including services for children and adults, and environmental, cultural, sports, housing, planning and benefits services. Anesa Kritah, Strategic Intelligence Manager, talks through the latest developments for the Croydon Observatory.

What is the Croydon Observatory?

The Observatory is a project that was taken on by the Strategic Intelligence Unit. The vision was to have a repository for all key data sets – accessible to all – with the primary purpose of providing an evidence base for commissioners and local decision makers; a “single version of the truth”. One of the key deliverables was to develop a website that would host key data sets enabling people to find data themselves and inform commissioning decisions. The existing observatory website held a substantial amount of useful data and information, but these were presented as a series of static web pages which didn’t allow the user to interrogate the data.

The new-look Observatory provides access to data and information about Croydon. Information is presented in nine areas which include crime and community safety, planning and transport, health and social care and housing. Users can also access information by population group (such as gender, race and ethnicity) and they can find information quickly thanks to the enhanced functionality of the new website.

How did you come across InstantAtlas?

We contacted a number of local authorities which had developed their own local information systems to identify areas of good practice. We then went out to procurement and InstantAtlas was chosen to fulfil the interactive mapping element of the website. The partnership between Geowise and OSCI was helpful since we also decided to use the OCSI data packs to help us build our database.

There are a number of benefits to using InstantAtlas as a preferred mapping software – for example, the fact that it can be accessed from different devices in different locations was important to us because it means partner organisations can access the Observatory quickly and easily. The aim is to provide partners with the information they need for funding bids or to decide spending priorities. This will help the council meet one of its strategic objectives of building capacity in the third sector. It also helps these organisations demonstrate that they have made decisions based on robust evidence.


What sort of feeback have you had?

The Observatory is currently being rolled out internally, but has been showcased to the voluntary sector and SMEs as part of our expert commissioning programme. The feedback received, especially from SMEs, was very positive with one organisation calling it “the best local information system (they) have ever seen”. They can see that it is something that will be useful to them.

How will you develop the Observatory in the future?

Our ambition is simple – we want to provide a one-stop service for intelligence and data for the whole area, removing duplication in research effort and improving the quality and focus of services. We want to make sure people can self-serve when it comes to data and we have reviewed our service requests and FOIs to ensure these data are included. There are a number of ways we would like to develop the Observatory in the future, there are three priority areas; building a profile for adult social care, building school population profiles which can be accessed interactively, and creating 16 place profiles which align to our regeneration agenda.

Benefits of using InstantAtlas:

  • InstantAtlas is helping the borough council meet its objective of presenting information that can be accessed in a self-serve way
  • By presenting information to the voluntary sector and SMEs, the council is helping them to make decisions based on evidence
  • Partner organisations can access a wide range of information easily from different devices and from any location
  • Large amounts of data can be presented, giving users a detailed insight into Croydon

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