A site about how community groups and charities can make the most of data and open data to do something useful. Focused on Birmingham, relevant everywhere.

How can community groups use open data for Big Local and Our Place


This is a practical run through of  something we picked up through a  question Becky Picklin asked us.  She works as the small groups officers for Dudley CVS and wondered if open data might help their support for Big Local in East Coseley

We first had a look at possibilities in the surgery at Stourbridge on 23rd February where Becky said we helped her

to find sources of data: doodad, LG inform. We had a hands on go at forming a natural neighbourhood (within the parameters of super output areas!) and hopefully that will provide useful data for that neigbourhood and community groups which work with people in that neighbourhood. The more you drill down, the more you get asked about what kinds of data you’ve got, so it;s important to stay focused and keep it simple.

We met again a few week later to do more than tinker. We set up a ‘natural neighbourhood to cover East Coseley.  A  natural neighbourhood is one tool where you can define your own neighbourhood on a map using super output area” and then colelct government data about that neighbourhood.

This is a quick video- scroll down this blog post for how we created the natural neighbourhood.  You can do the same for yours.


Natural neighbourhoods is part of a suite of open data tools being pulled together by the Local Government Association called LGInform plus.  It is quite focussed on local government but useful to all sorts of people.

Becky created this map – the dark green area is the neighbourhood she’s interested in and the data relates to just those areas) which presented her with these statistical report(s) for the neighbourhood she’s working in.  Basic facts about East Coseley (DRAFT) Big Local (DRAFT) and  Mapping health and healthcare provision in Dudley, with a focus on East Coseley (DRAFT) Big Local (DRAFT)  with data from



East Coseley Big Local in natural Neighbourhoods

East Coseley Big Local in natural Neighbourhoods

If these are useful for you here’s how to do it for where you live/work

First create got to  http://neighbourhoods.esd.org.uk/  and account on LgInformplus – you probably don’t want to become a subscriber (that cost money and has extra advantages, is aimed at local authorities)  but you do need to create a login. It only take a few minutes.



You’ll find a page with a drop down menu on the left – choose the local authority area you live – or rather want to make the map of (we found that you can’t work across local authority boundaries with this tool –  tell us in the comments please if we’re wrong, because it would be fab to be able to do that).  If you don’t know what local authority area you’re in use this postcode tool

Becky chose Dudley


and created a type of map – in this case she chose to call it Big Local.  ( we weren’t clear why you need to create a type of map – but you do (it can help group things)


You get a friendly congratulations….


Next you need to create you neighbourhood –

this is why you’re using the tool.  You click on “super output areas”  (these are the smallest area of your  community that the government keeps a range of statistics for, usually just a few streets) to create a neighbourhood that’s as close to the one you care about as possible.

Here Becky is trying to match the the map that exists on the Local trust website.

It only take a few minutes… building up the map but rember to save as you go along.


and you’ll have to compromise ….


Once you’ve established the neighbourhood and saved it you need to Publish It…  On the right hand side near the bottom is the publish this button.Natural_neighbourhoods_13

So where’s my data !

It won’t appear immediately – come back in24 hours and you should get reports that show


What will I get – here are the reports from East Coseley….

click here to download this one.

Have a go and let us know if it works for you.

Open Government License. Basic facts about Dudley

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>