Instant Atlas

Using open data to under­stand our city

A huge amount of data exists across the city, locked away in dif­fer­ent organ­isa­tions and depart­ments, and being used in dif­fer­ent ways. Under­stand­ing data is not easy, and know­ing how to ask the ‘right’ ques­tions is a skill that takes time to learn. Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil recog­nises that data has the power to really open up our city, help­ing to see and under­stand what is work­ing well and, when required, provide the right type of inter­ven­tion and sup­port in the right place at the right time.



A pilot pro­ject is under­way, focus­ing on the needs of the The Health and Well­being Board and the The Safer Peter­bor­ough Part­ner­ship:
An easy to use visu­al­isa­tion tool which allows the per­form­ance and inform­at­ics teams’ cus­tom­ers to identi­fy loc­al pat­terns, trends and cor­rel­a­tions rel­ev­ant to their area of busi­ness.
Cre­ation of an on-demand self-serve evid­ence base, allow­ing instant access to key data for man­agers and staff.
Allow­ing ‘bet­ter’ ques­tions to be asked, facil­it­at­ing deep dives aligned to the sub­ject mat­ter from expert obser­va­tions.
A scal­able solu­tion which by design pro­motes a stand­ard­ised approach to geo-spa­tial data.
This “soft­ware as a ser­vice” solu­tion aligns with the Council’s digit­al strategy as well as the aspir­a­tions of facil­it­at­ing a self-ser­vice cul­ture.



The Urb­an Obser­vat­ory is an inter­act­ive web-based soft­ware plat­form that allows users to com­pare and con­trast city-ori­ented maps. It has been developed as an ini­ti­at­ive between ESRI, Richard Saul Wur­man, and Rad­ic­alMe­dia. Its main aim is to make the world’s (city) data both under­stand­able and use­ful. The Urb­an Observatory’s main func­tions are to com­pare maps on sim­il­ar themes from mul­tiple cit­ies and to com­pare dif­fer­ently themed maps with­in one city (ESRI et al, 2014).
Work­ing in part­ner­ship with aca­dem­ic col­leagues from Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, an Urb­an Obser­vat­ory pro­file for Peter­bor­ough has been suc­cess­fully cre­ated draw­ing on mul­tiple col­lec­ted and ana­lysed data­sets, one of the most import­ant points was to use open data.

Using open data to understand our city — what’s working well and what support is needed?