Performance reporting and mapping with InstantAtlas

Performance reporting in the public sector has traditionally been an internal process using static indicator reports to show current state of play against baselines and targets. This is accompanied by the compilation of reports and data for central government and auditing bodies. The content of these performance reports is driven by the specifications which come from central government. As a result, the content and style of reports reflects the needs of this audience but rarely those of others.

However, the situation is changing fast. There are increasing pressures on public sector organisations to demonstrate effective use of public resources and greater openness. We are seeing more examples of performance and results-based management with renewed emphasis on results-oriented business planning, accountability and performance reporting.

So how is this changing the way performance reports are delivered? Internal reporting is becoming more sophisticated with the use of hierarchical scorecards to present a balanced view of performance tailored to different stakeholders. 

These drivers present many challenges not least how to present intelligence to users in a way that is engaging, relevant, understandable and useful. In the UK central government is committed to public service reform and a key element of its strategy is the introduction of a new set of performance frameworks. Performance reporting is central to these frameworks both in terms of making high quality information more easily accessible and also using performance information to give local communities a bigger say in decision making.

Another change we are starting to see is that the organisational performance of public sector organisations is now starting to drive internal policy and practice rather than the other way around. This is coupled with a shift towards outcome measurement – the actual and perceived impact that an organisation is having on its local communities. This has a strong locality focus, sometimes referred to as ‘place shaping’.

Value of Location in Performance Management

Incorporating location into the way performance information is managed, analysed and delivered means it is possible to:

  • develop a comprehensive picture of the performance landscape by integrating a wide range of relevant information based on a common referencing system - location;
  • use growing volumes of relevant, geographically referenced statistics, for example geo-demographic classifications of neighborhoods, to improve analysis and reporting;
  • understand geographic levels of variation and inequality particularly where there are targets to 'narrow the gap';
  • rapidly benchmark areas of interest with its geographic and statistical neighbours;
  • identify 'problem hotspots' and target policy and practical interventions more effectively;
  • make performance reports more relevant and useful to area-based managers and elected officials by using localised, recognisable geographic areas; and
  • meet the rising expectations of local communities by making reports more personalised and useful to citizens.

Context of performance reporting in UK government

The place shaping agenda brings with it a growing awareness of the need to understand geographic variability. The requirement is for more localised performance monitoring to identify under-performing ‘hotspots’ and deliver more targeted solutions.

The geographic dimension of information acts as a common referencing system, the informational glue, by which performance reporting can be joined-up and presented coherently.

Externally, UK public bodies have a statutory duty to report their performance publicly. Yet, to date, the way this information has been reported has not made it easily accessible. In 2009 the reform of public services was described as being underpinned by 'an information revolution'. According to Working Together - Public Services on Your Side, UK Cabinet Office, (March 2009): “…government has been too slow to make use of the enormous democratising power of information. When we give people knowledge about their public services, we give them power to shape and even transform them.”

The Cabinet Office report suggests that technology offers a useful platform to support this revolution and that information should be delivered in a way that does not require citizens to be expert analysts: "Technology allows for innovative ways to do things. Information can be shared and good ideas can spread. People don't need to be experts to understand."

InstantAtlas is being used by a number of public sector organisations to meet these requirements and deliver performance reports in an easy to understand format. We have included a couple of examples below:

Cambridgeshire Atlas | District reports


The Cambridgeshire Atlas | District report is an interactive atlas displaying key socio-economic and demographic data at a district level. On screen notes in the information box explains each of the individual indicators.

Read the case study on Cambridgeshire

Kirklees Council | DCLG Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010: Combined Index


This report was puiblished by the Kirklees Observatory. The Kirklees Observatory is part of a joint venture with the other four districts of West Yorkshire. The primary observatory is called the West Yorkshire’s regional Data Observatory which has a large database of area based statistics which the user can ask to be served up as tables, maps and area profiles.

Read the case study on West Yorkshire’s regional Data Observatory

More local authority reports

Malvern District Council - Census 2011 results - Single Map with Population Pyramid

Cumbria Atlas - Area Profiler, electoral ward level

Leicestershire County Council - Place Survey example for Harborough District | Other Districts

Norfolk County Council | Demographic Overview - Census 2011

District Level Atlas by the Department of Health, England

This report uses the InstantAtlas Area Profile Template (Performance Analysis Configuration) and includes London Boroughs, Unitary Authorities and Metropolitan Council Districts. Click here

If you would like to create performance reports for yourself then why not trial InstantAtlas for 30 days - click here for details

Additonal information and resources

Area Profiling with InstantAtlas

InstantAtlas and Local Information Systems

How to use the InstantAtlas Area Profile Template - Flash Version | HTML Version

Report creation services from InstantAtlas