Place based evidence is essential, both to plan and deliver services and to understand how places are changing over time. This is being brought into stronger focus in recent work to better understand well-being at a community level. However, painting a picture of a place and being able to distinguish its characteristics from those of other places brings its challenges. Firstly, how best to define our places in a consistent way, while providing information on a geographical basis which service providers (and citizens) will recognise as towns, communities, etc. Secondly, the challenge of limited robust quantitative data being available at a sub-local authority level.
We’re always up for a challenge and have spent the last 18 months looking at what might be possible. With support from the Cardiff Capital Region we have developed a successful pilot tool as a ‘proof of concept’. In terms of defining a ‘place’, we have used the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Built-up Areas (BUA) geography. Given that ONS recommends caution when using statistics for BUAs with a population of less than 1,500 people, we settled on BUAs with a population of 1,500 or more. This gave us 80 ‘places’ in the Cardiff Capital Region. We were able to source an initial set of data for these places.
So, where are we now? Feedback from demonstrations of the pilot tool over the Spring and Summer of 2018 was very positive. So much so, we’ve pressed ahead with the development of a fully bilingual tool covering ‘places’ across Wales. Profilingplaces.Wales will launch in the coming weeks as a beta version. While aimed at supporting local government and its partners, we hope it will be useful to a wider audience.
We have an exciting route map planned for the tool, with a long-term focus on its potential to support understanding of the data coming out the 2021 Census. In the meantime, we’ll be looking for input from users as we seek to add further data and extend its functionality.
To keep in touch with the launch of the new tool please follow us on Twitter. If you’d like to discuss this work further, or have a demonstration of the new tool, please drop me an email.
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