How a data transfer wizard has helped Staffordshire Observatory meet growing demand for up-to-date data


Over the last few years, there has been a significant growth in the number of Local Information Systems and many are now incorporating data from Neighbourhood Statistics (NeSS) alongside other data. Staffordshire Observatory launched in October 2010 and following high demand on the website the team felt they should give users access to more data which was continually updated. One way to do this was to incorporate NeSS data and this coincided with the launch of a new data transfer wizard from InstantAtlas that links with the NeSS database allowing users to extract the data they require.

Getting started

We spoke to Duncan Smith, Senior Research and Information Officer at Staffordshire Observatory who explains that following the launch with some key data sets, the team quickly realised there was significant demand for more data. “It was clear people accessing the website were eager for more regularly updated data,” he says. “This presented us with a dilemma because we wanted to add data such as NeSS but didn’t really have the resources within the team to upload data more frequently.”

The team then discovered the InstantAtlas NeSS data transfer wizard. This tool can be used to import data straight away or can be scheduled to run at particular times using the IAS Data Synchronisation Service. “I’m a big fan of this sort of API because it saves a lot of time when it comes to uploading data,” he says.

Meeting the need

Duncan set up the data transfer to upload data for multi geography areas and for different time periods. “It was all done with a mouse click and has saved the team a lot of time. The cost of the tool was recouped within a couple of weeks so overall we will be making a significant saving,” he says

“We have uploaded around 120 indicators using the IA NeSS data transfer wizard and I would estimate this has created around £2000 of value/time per annum saved compared to doing it manually. The team at InstantAtlas has been really helpful in setting up the tool and we are very happy with the support we’ve had.”

Duncan says users are now able to access a lot more data which is being continually updated. These users range from commissioners (from the Local Authority and healthcare), decision makers within the council, service managers and the public. The web statistics speak for themselves with 900 unique users per month and around 2,000 visits every month.

Future developments

Duncan believes that the technology of APIs will be central to meeting the growing demand for access to relevant useful data. Now that tasks can be run overnight keeping data up to date has been made a great deal easier.

Key benefits

  • Staffordshire Observatory is now able to push more data out ‘on stream’
  • The team can spend more time on value added research rather than with ad hoc requests
  • Users can now access more data in an easy-to-use online format
  • Data quality is improved because the likelihood of human error in data transfer is reduced
  • Minimum time has been required from the council’s IT support function

Learn more about the NeSS Data Tool - Click here

Other InstantAtlas stories and reports

Staffordshire Data Observatory - Giving local strategic partners the data they need to make commissioning decisions in a customisable format

Coventry Partnership - Giving local strategic partners the data they need to make commissioning decisions in a customisable format

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