Webwatch – Visualising data in social services

With the ever-increasing emphasis on the collection of data around social services, the sector has seen a need for greater data literacy in order to effectively provide insight into key sector information for all levels of staff, users of service and their carers and families.

What data visualisation does is transform large amounts of data into easy-to-interpret, well-designed displays of information, which can engage the reader and offer more of ‘at a glance’ insight into what might otherwise be difficult to comprehend information. David McCandless, the author of Information is beautiful, claims that in an age where we are all suffering from information overload, a simple solution may be to use our eyes more, to use visualisations to see the patterns and connections that matter, where the data tells a story and viewers can easily focus on the information that is important (The beauty of data visualization, McCandless, 2010).

The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) has launched [email protected], a free, online data visualisation tool to fulfil the need for greater data literacy. It has been developed with the help of, and for, Scottish social services.

The core principles underlying the creation of the tool is that it enables data to be visualised in a few easy steps and can be easily taught to others; improves decision making, analysis and communication; more effectively draws attention to key information for both internal and external audiences; strengthens the presentation of key information and the organisation’s overall communication; and enables the effective summary of key social services facts and figures to be used in education and training.

Access to the [email protected] visualisation modules requires a user login and password, which can be requested on the website. For further information, screenshots and images of visualisations, please contact: [email protected]

Visit the website: http://look.iriss.org.uk
Data visualisation blog: http://blogs.iriss.org.uk/datavis/