Keeping up with the… Open Data Team!

When people ask me “Rebecca, what would you like to write a blog about?” I always tell them that I want to write a blog about the Kardashians. Apparently, this isn’t an acceptable use of my time, so I’m here to talk about Open Data instead.

It’s been a busy few months and the need for data is greater than ever as we work to make sure our communities are safe and protected. In the Open Data team we’ve been building and publishing a variety of tools that provide useful, transparent data to the public and Essex County Council. Three of the tools that have had high engagement in the last few months are linked below.

First is the COVID-19 risk and vulnerability mapping dashboard. This dashboard draws together data from a range of sources to help public and community sector partners understand levels of vulnerability in neighborhoods across Essex. It has been prepared to help support and inform the partnership response to the current Coronavirus crisis. With around 1,500 views since the start of April 2020 this has been a key resource throughout the crisis.

With around 1,600 views since the end of May, the Local COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by district tool shows COVID-19 cases and deaths in Essex and its districts. It is updated daily automatically from ONS and Public Health England.

The Foodbanks/Universal Credit Claimants Thematic Mapping tool is an interactive map that highlights the number and location of foodbanks in areas of Essex, compared to the number of  Universal Credit claimants in that area, who may be struggling financially, especially at this time. It is part of a piece of work aiming to evaluate the current provision of foodbanks in Essex for those who are financially vulnerable.

These products showcase just some of the work that has been going on to help us inform colleagues and partners, and to protect our citizens during this time. More work is in progress to improve our abilities to get information to the people that need it most, and we’re excited to share our new projects and products with you as we progress.

Looking to the future

The ways we can communicate information are always expanding, through the publishing of dashboards, mapping of data or the ever-reliable spreadsheet.

Recently Louis, Sorin and Ed have been developing a new platform that can be used on open data. “Shiny” is a package in the software “R”, which can build interactive web apps and dashboards. It can also do other things that other tools can’t, such as recording movements of data on screen.

An example of a product using Shiny is the Excess Deaths in Essex tool, which visualises the monthly number of deaths in each district compared to the five year average. This platform means we can now host our own data products, collect data and create our own datasets, expanding the capability of the open data site for the future.

If you have access to data that could be uploaded to the open data platform and like the look of our interactive tools/dashboards then be sure to contact the team at 

And for anyone hoping that this was a blog post about the Kardashians (one day?!) here is who I would associate with each member of the Open Data team!

Joe: Kim Kardashian - Made the family famous

Jevon: Khloe Kardashian - The comic of the family

Ed: Kourtney Kardashian- Honest and gives good advice

Tom: Kris Jenner- Keeps an eye on what the kids are doing

Rebecca: Kendall Jenner- Cool, calm and collected (if i do say so myself!)

Louis: Kylie Jenner- Will be a billionaire one day

Sorin: Kanye West – Passionate preacher

Ollie: Rob Kardashian- Don’t see much of him but an important family member

Jack: Scott Disick– The Lord (of strategy)


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