Skip to Content

Suffolk County Council

How InstantAtlas is helping to meet Suffolk County aspirations to constantly improve its Observatory.


The Suffolk Observatory provides users with data, analysis, profiles, maps, and reports about Suffolk. Themes include: community safety, economy and jobs, education and skills, environment, health and wellbeing, housing and population, and transport. When the site was first launched, the team behind it was using InstantAtlas Server, but following a relaunch in September 2017 the Observatory is now using InstantAtlas cloud services including automatic uploads of national datasets alongside a full content management system to allow teams to change and add content. We spoke to Natacha Bines, Head of Population Insight, Health, Wellbeing and Children’s Services at the Council about the Observatory.


Who uses Suffolk Observatory and what are they using it for?

We carry out surveys of our users which tell us they are a mix of analysts at the local borough level as well as at Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs). In addition, the voluntary sector, county councillors, parish councillors and the public including university students also use the site.

In terms of mapping functionality, users can quickly generate bespoke maps for the local area. Previously the website was rather static and missing an interactive element allowing users to tailor reports. Now they can do this using data and information that is up to date. This helps both internal and external users, and aids us in completing our statutory Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, by providing up to date and high quality data.  


Is the website meeting expectations?

We carry out a six-month and yearly review and the feedback has been positive. From the council’s perspective the business risk is reduced because we do not have to get involved with hosting, so yes we are happy with the site. There is always room to improve, and we work collaboratively with the InstantAtlas team to suggest improvements in both the data that is on the site, and the functionality. 


Is the data service actually saving people time?

From a business as usual perspective, the site is saving time because we don’t have to upload datasets and it is easy to find top level information. This shift from manual updating to automatic has been great. InstantAtlas cloud services have also been able to save us time when it comes to ward boundary changes which come through automatically. Previously this would have been time consuming.


Is the data being delivered on a timely and consistent basis?

Yes, the updates are timely and consistent – initially we were expecting to have the data as soon as it was live on the ONS website, but it has to go through a cleaning process so we don’t see it immediately.


Are the InstantAtlas team considered to be responsive and pro-active?

Yes, definitely. We are constantly developing the site and the team are very responsive. We want to make the website as useful as possible and this requires a lot of support. The team is very open to ideas about redesign and different ways we can present the data.