The “KnowFife Dataset” - Running on InstantAtlas


The KnowFife Dataset provides a one-stop online information resource for partners and the public in Fife, in support of both the strategic information needs of Fife’s Community Plan and the local information requirements of its citizens. Under the umbrella of Fife Partnership, InstantAtlas Server is used to publish data for Fife from a range of agencies. Users can access data through thematic profiles, and interactive maps, and can also create their own tables, maps and charts based on particular areas/data of interest.

The KnowFife Dataset is a new resource for Fife Partnership, which brings together Fife Council, NHS Fife, Fife Constabulary, Fife Fire and Rescue Service, Communities Scotland, and Scottish Enterprise Fife, to deliver Fife’s Community Plan, building on the common boundaries shared by the organisations.

It includes profile information on population, the economy, education skills and training, health and well-being, the environment, community safety and other community planning themes. It is published using InstantAtlas, a software reporting solution from GeoWise for the management and online dissemination of spatially distributed indicators and/or statistics. Content is sourced from national datasets, such as Census, and Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics, and local datasets held by public agencies in Fife.

Prototype learnings

Under the Scottish Executive’s Community Budgeting initiative, Fife piloted a number of approaches to better information for better local decision making and better community involvement. One approach involved the development of a new shared information resource for community planning partners in Fife known as the Social Justice Analysis System (SJAS).

SJAS brought together evidence on needs and outcomes, with activity, performance, spend and other resources, at small area level. A key breakthrough was the flexibility to choose appropriate local geographies, for example, Fife localities.

The system was made available as a Microsoft Access database on CD but this raised issues regarding the effective distribution and updating of data in the longer term.

A longer term solution was required which would:

  • Retain the profiling and custom analysis functionality of SJAS.
  • Use data zones (areas with a population of between 700 and 1000 households) as the basic building block for the system.
  • Enable other geographical areas to be built up from data zone level.
  • Enable information to be uploaded and accessed via the internet.
  • Offer a distributed content management system, where the service/agency who owns the information would update it.
  • Enable graphical presentation of data through maps and charts to allow easier and faster interpretation by users.

Identifying the solution

Looking for a software tool able to support such requirements the project team discovered that there was an off-the-shelf solution available which could deliver what was required with minimal customisation. The tool was InstantAtlas, and the KnowFife Dataset was officially launched on 19 February 2007.

InstantAtlas is a modular solution. In addition to the core management and administration module it offers areaprofiles, maps, interactive dashboards, advanced tables, analyses and data exploration functions. Documentation is also available to support people to use the system effectively.


Coryn Barclay is based in Corporate Research with Fife Council and is today responsible for the KnowFife Dataset. She explained what the team has learned from the process of gathering and publishing local data.

“Today, each member organisation of the Fife Partnership seeks information from KnowFife and each is responsible also for uploading information,” said Barclay. “Sharing data across partners and with the public, InstantAtlas has enabled us to break down information access barriers through creating a sharing culture based on a reciprocally beneficial relationship. It works well.”

Key benefits

“In KnowFife, agencies and citizens now have a central, consistent and trusted repository for Fife data,” said Barclay.“InstantAtlas is helping us deliver a highly valued and increasingly popular service supporting the information needs of decision makers involved in the Fife Community Plan and serving the needs of our citizen users. It also offers a valuable platform for meeting our responsibilities under the Freedom of Information legislation.”

Feedback suggests that users of the KnowFife Dataset are enthusiastic about the resource. The system is relatively easy to use, and users can view pre-defined profiles which include narrative to set the data in context. They can also create their own tables, maps and charts for their own use. Users value the flexibility to define their own neighbourhoods, which comes through the range of geographical areas available to them. They also value the range of data for Fife available in one place over the internet.

“InstantAtlas enables KnowFife Dataset users to explore multi-agency data sets online and locate for themselves the information they want, drill down into it and perform their own custom analyses. It is also good to know that everyone has the same access to the information,” said Barclay. “This self service, InstantAtlas-supported approach means far fewer ad-hoc data requests for each partner, is saving everybody time and resources and most importantly is making information on Fife so much more accessible to decision makers and our citizens.”

Learn more about InstantAtlas Server for local information systems

Learm more about Local Information Systems

Examples of other InstantAtlas clients

Perth and Kinross Council

Cumbria Data Observatory

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