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Leeds City Council

Access to local population data is enabling better partnership working and informing service design across Leeds.


The neighbourhoods of Leeds are extremely diverse, spanning some of the most deprived in the country to the least deprived, rural and urban areas, and encompassing many different ethnicities. In partnership with public, private and third sector organisations, Leeds City Council (LCC) is focused on tackling poverty and inequalities, and ensuring that all its communities benefit from economic growth. The insights that demographic data can provide will be essential in meeting the council’s outcomes. At the start of this year, LCC launched the Leeds Observatory website, a broad intelligence base of local population data open to everyone. The site is powered by InstantAtlas and data sets are automatically updated. We spoke with Ruth Addison, senior intelligence officer at LCC, to find out the difference the new site has made to the council and other local organisations.


Who will be the main users of Leeds Observatory?

It is publicly available, but we expect the main users to be commissioners, ward members, and anyone planning services or submitting funding bids. The third sector organisations we work with are often small and they appreciate data when planning interventions and services – we hope the Observatory will be a great help to them.


How is InstantAtlas helping the council and other local organisations?

The Observatory is a very useful tool for multi-agency working. We have had some great feedback from users. One of them was Georgia Young, project leader with Health Partnerships who told us how the Observatory helped her with a multi-partner workshop - and enabled her to quickly access a broad range of information about a specific LSOA area. She was able to retrieve tables of data, graphs, other diagrams and maps and insert them into slides for a multi-partner presentation. As someone unfamiliar with the area and the data Georgia found the explanations in the site helpful and has told us the site was easy to navigate due to the use of themes and embedded links.

The Observatory is also helping us to support third sector organisations working in local areas as they can quickly access a broad range of information on specific areas, and build custom areas using LSOAs. Isabel Swift runs a social enterprise called Lemon Balm that promotes health and wellbeing through gardening and says with access to Leeds Observatory she will now be better equipped to plan services and able to access funding more easily.


Is the website meeting expectations?

Yes, it is. The InstantAtlas service means the data is kept up to date for us, so it’s great that we don’t have to worry about that. We can add in our own data too, which is important. The data quality is much better and more reliable than before. Having the Observatory means that multiple agencies all have access to the same data sets, which makes things easier. 

LCC colleagues have reported that they find the site easy to navigate. We also like the flexibility it offers – we can easily add reports and needs assessments, and even change the structure of the site if needed.