Updated data and improved support

We have just gone live with the next release of Community Insight, with updated data and improved support for using the tool.

Data updates: DWP benefit datasets published just before Easter are live on the system, in the reports and interactive maps. The data on unemployment, low income, poor health and disability, and older people social care benefits is now available for August 2012 (the latest data available), with the monthly unemployment claimant count data for Feb 2013.

Support centre and knowledge base: The support centre brings together all the support resources for using Community Insight, including the user guide, frequently asked questions, video tutorials, and the knowledge base. Once you’re logged-in, you can also use the ‘Support’ link on the main menu-bar.

Support videos: We have added more video tutorials showing how to use and manage your Community Insight account. These are linked from the relevant pages, as well as from the support centre. The 2 latest videos added are:


We have an ambitious schedule of new features to be added over the next few months and we’ll be updating this blog with information on the new features, so check back to see what is new.

And as always, do get in touch with any comments or feedback.

Latest updates on Community Insight

We have just gone live with the next release of Community Insight (v1.3), part of our plans to continuously improve the tool for users. New features added recently include:

  • Report on any area, not just those areas in which you have stock – the most commonly requested feature! Users can now get detailed profiles of any area in the country within minutes, simply by drawing a line on the map, uploading postcodes or selecting standard areas. Critical information for those groups wanting to understand the communities and areas they are considering for investment and development.
  • User-guide updated to include the latest features and functionality. You can search or browse through articles here (this will open the Community Insight knowledge base in a new tab)
  • Want to know who is subscribing to Community Insight? The new client page now shows subscribed housing providers, and we’ll keep updated as providers sign-up to the service
  • Minor tweaks and tidies

Thanks again to all those who came to the user group meeting last week (there’s a summary of the event here). We have an ambitious schedule of new features to be added over the next few months, and the user group feedback has helped us plan and prioritise the next stages of development. We’ll be updating this blog with information on the new features, so check back to see what is new.

And as always, do get in touch with any comments or feedback.

New features on Community Insight

We have just gone live with a new release of Community Insight, part of our plans to continuously improve the tool for users. New features added recently include:

  • More mapped indicators, and an improvement to the indicator menu (more detailed indicators such as ethnic breakdowns and provider-owned and council-owned stock are now grouped under higher-level ‘super’ indicators)
  • The data tables popup now show associated indicators, to give context to the selected indicators
  • We have updated data with the latest from Census 2011. See here for more details
  • Various minor tweaks and tidies.

We have an ambitious schedule of new features to be added to the tool over the next few months, and will be prioritising with users. We’ll be posting about new features on this blog, so check back for news on updates.

Any comments or feedback? Come along to the Community Insight user group meeting next week and meet the team behind the tool. Book your space here or contact us directly.

What is new for Community Insight?

You may have noticed some changes to the Community Insight indicators and data.

We have updated Community Insight with the latest from Census 2011. This not only includes updating the existing indicators, but you will find a series of new Census 2011 indicators.

We have also introduced sub-indicators, enhancing how you navigate around datasets on the Community Insight Map. You are now able to look at underlying breakdowns within one main indicator.

You will find that 23 indicators on the website updated with the 2011 data:

  • White British ethnic group
  • Non-white ethnic group
  • White (Non British) ethnic group
  • People providing intensive unpaid care
  • People with no qualifications
  • People with degree level qualifications
  • Vacant Dwellings
  • Detached housing
  • Semi-detached housing
  • Terraced housing
  • Purpose build flats
  • Flats in a converted house
  • Households with no car
  • Owner occupied housing
  • Housing rented from council
  • Housing rented from a Housing Association
  • Private rented housing
  • Overcrowded housing
  • Houses lacking central heating
  • People with a limiting long-term illness (aged 16-64)
  • Households with multiple needs
  • Dwellings with two rooms or fewer
  • Dwellings with 9 or more rooms

In addition, the website now shows a further 23 new census 2011 indicators:

  • Economically active
  • Economically inactive
  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Self-employed people
  • Flats in a commercial building
  • Caravan or other temporary accommodation
  • Flat, maisonette or apartment
  • Whole house or bungalow
  • Social rented housing
  • Housing owned outright
  • Housing owned with a mortgage or a loan
  • Housing in shared ownership
  • People with a religious belief
  • Christian
  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Sikh
  • Other religion
  • People with no religious belief
  • Households with 4+ cars

We hope you are enjoying Community Insight’s great new features. If you have any questions regarding this update, or would like to give us any feedback, then do contact us.

Population Insight: Making sense of the 2011 Census migration data

John Perry, who has worked with HACT to develop the Population Insight tool, discusses how the software programme releases the potential of migration information available to housing providers in the data released in the recently available 2011 Census.

If housing providers aren’t already ensuring that their services meet the needs of more diverse communities, they’ve had a pointed reminder in the results of the 2011 Census now being released. Everyone knows that migration has affected the size and the composition of the population: in the last ten years, just under three-quarters of population growth has been due to immigration.  But the Census not only confirms the broad trends, it provides a one-off opportunity to look in detail at who lives in your housing stock or in the neighbourhoods where you operate, that won’t be available again for another decade.

Despite excellent work by the Guardian and others to make Census data accessible and digestible, getting your head round local-level data can be a daunting task, even if the rewards are potentially very worthwhile.  Fortunately, HACT has worked with Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) to provide a free tool that any housing provider in England can use, called Population Insight.  In a nutshell, what Population Insight does is to take highly detailed data on diverse communities and immigration and provide it to housing providers in a form that they can tailor to show the detail for their local authority, their neighbourhood or even particular streets.  In each case, they can compare their patch with the national data and, of course, they can also compare one patch with another or against other data such as their own tenant records.

In what ways can this be used by housing providers?  The enormous value of the Census is only partly due to the national picture it gives us, attractive though this might be to headline writers.  After all, new national data on household composition and migration are regularly available.  No, the real value of the Census lies in its fantastic detail and hence its accuracy.  No other survey in the next ten years (assuming, of course, that the Census continues) will give local authorities and housing providers such intricate and reliable data, unless they commission expensive surveys themselves.

This means that you really can use the Census to drill down and get local data for each neighbourhood you work in.  Even if you already follow the regulator’s advice to use tenant insight methods to gain better knowledge of your customer base, these have known weaknesses and you can use Census data both to check their accuracy and to see how your customers compare with the rest of the population in the areas where they live.

Let’s take a look at some possible uses.  One of the headline changes across Britain has been the growth in the foreign-born population from seven per cent in 2001 to 13 per cent in 2011.  But this only hints at a very varied picture, with some places hardly touched by immigration while others have been transformed.  For example, looking in more detail at country of birth, we can see that Boston in Lincolnshire was 98 per cent ‘white British’ in 2001 but now over ten per cent of the local population is Polish.  Housing providers based there like Boston Mayflower and Longhurst will need to know where those Polish people and other incomers actually live, and whether their representation in the housing stock is typical of the area or not.  If as a result they decide to do more work with Polish tenants or the Polish community at large, they’ll need to know how many households in a neighbourhood don’t have anyone who speaks English as their main language.

Another use of detailed data will be to see how mobile local populations are.  Mobility is a challenging issue for social landlords – while government wants tenants to be able to move more to get jobs, housing providers are aware of the unsettling effects of too much movement both within a neighbourhood and on services like schools.  Census data at local level enables you to check how much turnover there is (inflow and outflow) as well as how many people have changed address in the last 12 months.  You can check this against data for wider areas to see if population ‘churn’ is higher or lower. This will give you hard data to help you investigate why any excessive movement is occurring.

These are only two examples, but you can check out Population Insight here and see how it might work for you.  Census data is now fresh and it’s just arrived in the shops, take a close look at it before it passes its ‘sell by’ date!

HACT and OCSI launch free Population Insight tool for housing sector

The new data tool gives housing providers free access to Census 2011 data on changing demographics in their neighbourhoods.

Launched today by HACT and OCSI, and funded by MetropolitanPopulation Insight is a free online mapping tool that enables housing providers to access detailed information on changes in neighbourhood demographics using Census 2011 data released by ONS on 31 January.

Population Insight enables housing providers to generate instant community profiles on each of the neighbourhoods they manage, and map change across the areas they work in.  It also enables them to compare neighbourhoods with each other, or with a wider area.

Based on HACT and OCSI’s successful Community Insight mapping platform, it will provide housing providers with

  • free heat mapping of key demographic indicators;
  • full demographic profiling of their communities – including age, gender, country of origin, ethnicity, religion, migration status and primary language.

Housing providers using Population Insight and Community Insight will be amongst the first able to access the detailed neighbourhood level data from Census 2011 released at the end of January.

Housing providers already subscribing to Community Insight will gain access to a wider range of important new Census data at neighbourhood level, including household composition, employment profiles and household need. Both Population Insight and Community Insight will provide theinformation housing providers need to positively engage with localised population change, and the challenges this brings in relation to service design and provision, funding, changing needs, and neighbourhood integration and cohesion.

“The publication in late autumn 2012 of initial district level data from Census 2011 highlighted the extent to which populations have grown, turned over and changed in many of our communities over the last ten years.  These changes can be even more pronounced at a neighbourhood level, and impact on service provision, community relations and housing need” says Matt Leach, HACT’s CEO.

“You can really use the Census to drill down and get local data for each neighbourhood. Interestingly, we note that the main changes in the demographic profile of neighbourhoods occurred as a result of immigration.” says John Perry, CIH housing policy advisor who worked with HACT to develop the tool.

“There is a wealth of open data on demographics and population available, however it is overwhelming and difficult to interpret all these statistics, particularly at a neighbourhood level. Population Insight offers an easily understandable format of the statistics, which becomes an incredible valuable resource for housing providers.” concludes Matt Leach.

Census 2011 goes live

Neighbourhood data published last week from the census gives a detailed picture of local neighbourhoods and communities. The data is available down to the most detailed Output Area level geography (covering around 120 households), and covers ethnicity, skill levels, economic activity, general health, tenure, housing type, access to transport, household arrangements, what jobs people are doing, overcrowding, migration and country of birth.

As well as providing the detail of how local areas have changed over the 10 years since the last Census in 2001, this is the first time that such detailed data on many of these topics has been available at neighbourhood level.

With more than one billion bits of data (yes really!) being released, we’ve been hard at work crunching the numbers into Community Insight and Population Insight. The Population Insight data went live today, with users able to map and report the data on their local areas. Community Insight reports also now include Census 2011 data, with the maps being updated over the weekend.

Census 2011 coming soon

The second release of Census 2011 key and quick statistics for output areas was published today for all neighbourhoods across England and Wales. We are hard at work in the OCSI offices crunching the numbers as we load the data into the maps and reports on Community Insight, ready to go live next week.

The data has been published down to the most detailed Output Area level geography (covering around 120 households). The data covers ethnicity, skill levels, economic activity, general health, tenure, housing type, access to transport, household arrangements, what jobs people are doing, overcrowding, migration and country of birth.

As well as providing the detail of how local areas have changed over the 10 years since the last Census in 2001, this is the first time that such detailed data on many of these topics has been available at neighbourhood level. In addition to this, a range of new data has been published at Local Authority level for the first time. Find out more about the datasets from the ONS Census 2011 site, including detailed information on the data as well as videos explaining what the statistics mean.

Once we’ve loaded the new data into Community Insight and Population Insight, all subscribers will have access to the latest data on their areas through their maps and reports.

Updating Community Insight to the latest data

Community Insight now includes datasets released at neighbourhood level from Census 2011, in addition to the latest labour market indicators.

Census 2011 population data 

Three of the population indicators have been updated with Census 2011 data, replacing the older mid-year estimates:

  • Population aged 0-15
  • Population aged 65+
  • Population of working age

In addition, vulnerable group and deprivation indicators have been updated to use the Census 2011 data as the population denominators:

  • Workless through sickness benefit- shows % of all working age adults receiving Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance
  • Disability benefit-shows % of all people receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Older people social care benefit-shows % of all aged 65+ receiving Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Pensioners in poverty- shows % of Pension Credit Claimants as a % of all pensioners
  • People with mental health issues- shows % of people receiving Incapacity Benefits for mental health of all working age adults
  • Working age welfare benefit claimants- shows % of all working age adults receiving DWP benefits

Labour Market Indicators

Two vulnerable group and labour market indicators have been updated with the latest data (bringing the time series up to November 2012):

  • Unemployment benefit- shows % of all working age adults receiving Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Unemployment to available jobs ratio- shows Unemployment (JSA) to job vacancies indicating the level of competition for local jobs

Coming soon

Data updates coming soon to Community Insight will include local area statistics from Census 2011 due to be published January 30th, as well as labour market indicators published by the Office for National Statistics.

We are continuously reviewing Community Insight to keep the tool up-to-date with the latest data. As well as posting on this blog, we will email details of updates out in the monthly Community Insight newsletter. Sign up here if you want to receive updates straight to your inbox.

And as usual, if you have seen something on this site you’re not sure about, or found some data you think we should add, do contact us!

Community Insight Beta launched

We have just updated the status of the Community Insight tool to “Beta”. This basically means that the majority of core functionality is live (with a funky new logo), but with some features to add and issues to iron out before launch. The development and design team are now hard at work sprinting to the launch date of November 27th, check this blog for updates.

So what has been added over the last few weeks? Quite a bit…

  • The biggest changes have been under the bonnet, and Community Insight now behaves itself in Internet Explorer 8 (with successful tests in organisations still using IE7), as well as modern browsers including IE9, Firefox, Chrome, plus smartphone and tablet browsers. We have more speed improvements lined up to go live before launch, so users should see good performance using all these browsers.
  • “Hotspots” functionality to show you the areas and neighbourhoods in which you have stock, which have the highest/ lowest values on particular indicators – with links to view these areas on the map.
  • Stock properties are now identified using Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs), so you can easily reference our data against your property management system. We are also exploring with system vendors how to integrate with their property management systems, so we can receive property data directly (meaning the property data in Community Insight is always up-to-date) as well as showing Community Insight results in their dashboards.
  • As well as by drawing on the map, neighbourhoods (known as ‘stock groups’ ) can now be defined using Excel uploads (or simply copy & pasting). Based on feedback from the pilots, users can also define neighbourhoods that do not contain stock, for example allowing you to explore areas for possible developments or stock swaps.
  • Plus lots of minor additions and design tidies, such as adding in the twitter feed and this news blog.

We will update this blog when new features go live over the next 2 weeks, including:

  • Datasets and reports for each of your defined neighbourhoods – and available within 1 hour of defining a new neighbourhood
  • First Census 2011 data results will be published by the Office for National Statistics on Nov 23rd, and we will load into Community Insight the next working day
  • Help tutorials and videos available on each page
  • Downloads for the raw data on your areas and defined neighbourhoods, for more detailed analysis using Excel or other packages. Eg, we know that some users want to integrate the Community Insight data into their organisation GIS software – we’re working on it!
  • Defining neighbourhoods from any standard areas (such as wards, Super Output Areas) – for those like me who can find it tricky to draw areas accurately on the map!
  • Speed improvements for IE8 and other browsers.