The world as we know it has been transformed by the use of maps and the deployment of satellites and GPS systems combined with exponential growth in smart phone usage has made the map a vital part of daily living. Being able to see information represented on a map through tools such as Geographical Information Systems (or GIS) have become a important tool in Birmingham helping us to make smarter, more informed decisions to improve services for people we serve.
By using our GIS tools It is giving us the enhanced capability to question and visualise data in new ways and spot patterns and trends to improve services and create real value for residents of Birmingham. The newly launched MyBrumMap, is providing citizens and businesses with deeper insights into geospatial data so that they find out more about the provision of public services and local amenities in their area and work with us to improve the delivery of services. For example, users can search demographic data (from Census 2011), planning data such as ‘locally listed buildings’ to find historic buildings or ‘planning applications’ to search the number of applications made within a time period and within a search area. As a new service we are looking at adding more data layers over the forthcoming months and are welcoming suggestions about enhancements to the tool (email us at: BrumGISmaps@birmingham.gov.uk).
It is just one of the ways in which we are using the digital tools at our disposal to provide greater accountability, visibility and transparency of what we do and to drive real value from our data by turning it into intelligence led decision making. Putting information into the fingertips of our communities using maps will open up new conversations to work with us to target resources and funding where it is needed most.
What’s next in the pipeline?
In the New Year we will be working with citizens, Councillors, community groups and other stakeholders to co-design a ‘Civic Dashboard’ prototype that will take live data feed from the Council’s call centre and show trends on an online map allowing the council and citizens to identify hotspot areas where there are common or recurring issues, reported to the council, such as flytipping, potholes and missed waste collections and give an on-the-ground perspective on particular issues.
Written by Dr Peter Bishop, Director for Digital & Customer Services, Birmingham City Council