The last few years have seen huge amounts of government data opened up for use by individuals and organisations alike. Whilst major successes such as Garmin have originated from this, more widespread success has been limited by the poor state of data analysis skills and the somewhat unfriendly way in which the data is presented.
We are undertaking to rectify that, in our own small way, with the launch of the Data Playground. The resource allows users to create their own graphs and charts based upon survey data from over 30,000 people. The interface is designed to make analysis quick and simple to conduct.
“At the British Election Study we are keen to make our data as widely accessible as we can possibly make it, whether you’re an A-level student, a journalist, or a voter who wants to learn more about democracy”, Professor Jane Green (@ProfJaneGreen), BES Co-Director, is from The University of Manchester said.
“We’ve done the hard work for you already: all you have to do is click a few buttons to create graphs and tables from scratch. You’ll be able to edit and download your graphics and study politics by analysing people who participate in it – individual voters, and also people who choose not to vote.”
Making data more accessible
It’s hoped that the facility will make it easier for users to tap into the British public’s attitudes to policies, public spending, the EU, immigration and many of the other topical issues of the day.
Users will be able to compare attitudes with demographic information to drill down into the opinions of people by age, religion or even their favourite newspaper. Users are also able to explore each of the devolved regions seperately to gain a picture of how they differ.
Professor Green added: “The Data Playground, for the first time in the British Election Study’s history, allows anyone to examine large volumes of topical and recent data without the need for specialist expertise or software.
“We hope students and sixth formers will use it, as it is part of our mission to provide balanced and impartial information about electoral politics, away from the lens of the political parties.
“As academics, we feel it is important to make our research accessible and relevant to the wider community and our belief is that this is a powerful way to do that.”