Google Fusion Tables

obs-blog-fusiontables-postLearn how to create a choropleth map of your data and visualize it on Google Maps.

Fusion Tables is an experimental data visualization web application to gather, visualize, and  share larger data tables. The Guardian newspaper makes active use of this as part of their  pioneering data journalism work.

You can easily upload data sets from CSV, KML and spreadsheets, and visualize the data using a  variety of tools. Users can merge data from multiple tables and easily visualize large data sets  on Google Maps.

All you need is a Google Drive account to get started.

How to create thematic polygon data maps is an excellent step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of making your own maps.


This Population Density map pictured (click to open) used 2011 Census table (KS101EW) data on usual resident population which was merged with an LSOA boundary file.


KML boundary files for Bradford


Ten of the most important questions to ask about UK poverty

JRF-logoPoverty research must provide useful answers for policy and practice, says Chris Goulden.

To deal with entrenched problems of poverty in the UK, serious improvements need to be made to knowledge about the causes of poverty and the effectiveness of potential solutions.

As reported in the recent UBD full report (p.41):

One in four children in the District lives below the poverty line (households with less than 60% of average income) equating to 36,080 0-18 year olds. Bradford’s rate is more than the national average or West Yorkshire rate. A further third of the District’s children live in households that have low income plus material deprivation.

A two-day exercise led by a partnership between JRF and the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge identified the most important unanswered and researchable questions about poverty.

Ten of the most important questions were:

  • What values, frames and narratives are associated with greater support for tackling poverty, and why?
  • How do images of people in poverty influence policy debates in different countries?
  • What are the most effective methods of increasing involvement and support for the education of children among their parents or guardians?
  • What explains variation in wages as a share of GDP internationally?
  • What is the nature and extent of poverty among those who do not or cannot access the safety net when they need it?
  • How could targeting and incentivising payment of the Living Wage make it more effective at reducing household poverty?
  • What are the positive and negative impacts of digital technologies on poverty?
  • How do environmental and social regulations or obligations affect prices for those in poverty?
  • Who benefits from poverty, and how?
  • What evidence is there that economic growth reduces poverty overall, and under what circumstances?

The full paper 100 Questions: identifying research priorities for poverty prevention and reduction published in Journal of Poverty & Social Justice as an Open Access paper can be accessed here.

2013 Local Health Profiles

obs-logo-health-profileThe 2013 version of the local Health Profiles have been published this week and can be accessed at They give a snapshot overview of health for each local authority in England.

These profiles draw together information to present a picture of health in each local area in a user-friendly format. They are a valuable tool for local government, health services and partners in helping them to understand community needs, so that they can work to improve people’s health and reduce health inequalities.

2011 Census Output Area Classification

obs-blog-2011oacA new 2011 UK Output Area Classification (OAC) is being produced through a collaborative project between the Office for National Statistics and University College London.  ONS/UCL are currently seeking users’ views on this work via a short questionnaire available by clicking here.

In summary:

  • updates the previous 2001 OAC;
  • is freely available;
  • indicates the character of small areas;
  • contains a three-tiered hierarchical classification of 8 Supergroups, 24 Groups and 67 Subgroups;
  • can be used for area profiling, structuring data and targeting resources.

How does government policy contribute to loneliness?

JRF-logoWe need to address the epidemic of loneliness in our midst, says Tracey Robbins. Loneliness not only kills people; it kills communities too.


Has our society already died? The challenge for our society is that the policy and strategies put in place by government unwittingly hinder those on the ground trying to bring people, neighbourhoods and communities together.

Three years ago over forty people living in two neighbourhoods in York, two in Bradford, set off to find out what causes loneliness in the areas where they live.


video updated 04-11-2013

For the full JRF article please click here.

Focusing on extreme cases won’t help us bridge the rich/poor education attainment gap

JRF-logoSensationalist stories of neglectful parents make for good headlines but they have little to do with the reality of closing the education attainment gap, warns Helen Barnard.

By age 16 only 35% of children receiving free school meals gain 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, compared to  62% of children not on free school meals. This attainment gap appears long before school age. It has narrowed slightly in recent years but remains stubbornly large.

In 2010 the JRF published a major study showing that by the age of three there are already big  differences in cognitive, social and emotional development between children from richer and poorer  backgrounds. By five years old children in poverty are around eight months behind their peers.

Key points

  • The aspirations, attitudes and behaviour of parents and children potentially play an important part in  explaining why poor children typically do worse at school.
  • Children from poorer backgrounds are much less likely to experience a rich home learning environment  than children from better-off backgrounds. At age three, reading to the child and the wider home learning environment are very important for children’s educational development.
  • The gap between children from richer and poorer backgrounds widens especially quickly during primary  school. Some of the factors that appear to explain this are:
    – parental aspirations for higher education;
    – how far parents and children believe their own actions can affect their lives; and
    – children’s behavioural problems.
  • It becomes harder to reverse patterns of under-achievement by the teenage years, but disadvantage and  poor school results continue to be linked, including through:
    – teenagers’ and parents’ expectations for higher education;
    – material resources such as access to a computer and the internet at home;
    – engagement in anti-social behaviour; and
    – young people’s belief in their own ability at school.
  • The research found that cognitive skills are passed from parents to children across the generations.  This also helps explain why children from poorer backgrounds underperform in school.

Links to read :-

Full Blog post by the JRF and their 2010 report.

Understanding Bradford District

A new report published today provides Bradford Council and its partners, citizens and businesses with accurate and up-to-date information about the district. The report offers a descriptive analysis of the district and highlights issues and trends that need to be addressed to make Bradford a better place to live and work..  A shorter summary and ‘in your pocket’ guide are also available.

Key findings

  • With a population of 524,600, Bradford is the fourth largest district in England, after Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield.
  • Bradford’s economy is £8.3 billion, constituting a fifth of West Yorkshire’s economic output and businesses. Between 2008 and 2011, Bradford’s growth was more than twice the regional average and also higher than UK growth.
  • Educational attainment is improving year on year with the rate of improvement for achieving five or more good GCSEs at grades A*-C including Maths and English accelerating faster than the national average.
  • Qualification levels are still lower than the regional and national averages.
  • Social work interventions regarding children in need of care and protection has fallen, with 345 referrals per 10,000 population compared to the English average of 533 referrals per 10,000 population.
  • We have a low proportion of social housing compared to regionally and nationally, but 99.9% of the stock meets the Decent Homes standard.
  • We have maintained consistent levels of resident satisfaction; the Office of the Crime Commissioner found that over the last three years the percentage of people who said they were satisfied with their local area has been between 70% and 71%.
  • Regular volunteering and civic participation are above the national averages demonstrating high levels of active citizenship.
  • Overall crime levels continue to reduce, particularly burglaries and violent crime.

Links to download :-

Summary with chapter highlights; full report including links to supporting notes; and an ‘In your pocket’ guide with key statistics from the analysis.