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Section 1 What is BHLIS? How does it meet VCS needs?

1.1 Introduction
1 1111 Each of the DataBridge interviews has highlighted the need for a place to find, and share, local information on Brighton and Hove. However, while three groups interviewed were aware that a local service already exists with this explicit role – BHLIS – they did not make use of the service for a range of reasons. 1 1111 This note briefly reviews the Brighton and Hove Local Information Service (BHLIS), including the system content and functionality, and highlights some of the ways that the system could be strengthened for VCS (and other) users. Note that these are our impressions based on a half-day use of the site: we have not carried out a full review of the system.

1.2

Content and functionality

1 1111 BHLIS (www.bhlis.org/) aims to provide local partners with national and local statistics and indicators, and also provide a central location for local reports and analysis. The attached Excel ‘BHLIScontents.xlsx’ shows the datasets and resources held on BHLIS, with clickable links to the actual content. Datasets and Data Views 1 1111 The ‘Data Explorer’ (www.bhlis.org/dataviews/) and ‘Advanced Data Explorer’ (www.bhlis.org/advanceddataviews/) provide a searchable list of the datasets, grouped by theme and/or geography. 1 1111 BHLIS holds 73 datasets (see the attached Excel for details), with each containing one or more indicators at the relevant geographies. Datasets can be viewed on-screen, downloaded in Excel (or CSV) format, or visualized using InstantAtlas dynamic reports such as shown below.

Section 1

What is BHLIS? How does it meet VCS needs?

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Reports 1 1111 The ‘City Wide Needs and Reports’ link (www.bhlis.org/profiles/) provides a searchable list of the profile reports, grouped by theme and/or geography. 1 1111 BHLIS provides profile reports for the ‘State of the City’ and ‘Joint Strategic Needs Assessment’ reports, which are web versions of the PDF reports available elsewhere on the site. Interactive reports using the live data held on BHLIS (ie, so these are updated when newer data is added) include the Ward Profiler (http://www.bhlis.org/profiles/profile? profileId=18&geoTypeId=), and demographic, deprivation and childhood obesity Data Profiles. See below for screenshot of the Ward Profiler.

Resources 1 1111 The ‘Resources’ link (www.bhlis.org/explorer/resources/) provides a searchable list of the resources, grouped by theme and/or geography. BHLIS holds 340 uploaded resources, including local and national reports (such as the Brighton & Hove Joint Strategic Needs Assessment), and links to other online content (such as health profiles for LAs). 1 1111 It is not clear that document (or dataset) resources have been provided by local VCS groups, although the websites for some groups such as Amaze are linked.
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1.3

How could BHLIS be strengthened for a VCS audience?

1 11111 BHLIS could provide a very useful first port of call for users needing information on the local area. However it currently feels a little neglected, with only 3 data updates in the past 12 months (although many more reports have been uploaded). We appreciate that resources (for BHLIS and other corporate support) are under severe pressure, however BHLIS as it stands does not quite ‘work’ for VCS groups looking for up-to-date local information. 111111 Initial suggestions for how BHLIS could be strengthened for the VCS audience include: Meeting audience needs • Help for specific user groups: There is not much support for different user groups, or help in understanding what’s on BHLIS or how it can be used. For example, Nottingham Insight (which uses the same underlying software) provides lots of material aimed at VCS and other groups, and how-to-use videos. http://www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk/insight/partnerships/voluntary/ho me.aspx and http://www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk/insight/help/videos.aspx The key audience needs clarification. Linked to the above point, it could be made clearer who the site is for. The look and feel suggests data/research users? Is it aimed at VCS groups – if so, should it say so? Content and functionality needs for specific groups. As well as support for specific user groups (as above), the content and functionality could be strengthened for specific groups. Eg, VCS would find help useful on how to use the data in funding bids. There is low understanding of the potential usefulness of BHLIS as a resource, with usability being a major barrier. Promotion to specific groups: A successful local information system can be the first port of call for a wide variety of users – be they service providers, partnership research teams, councillors, senior management teams, VCS needing funding bid support. There is low awareness of BHLIS amongst the VCS users we interviewed for DataBridge – suggesting that promotional work could usefully be carried out. Case studies of what information is available, and how it is used to influence strategy or service delivery.

Content • Key datasets on the system are not included in profile reports. Eg, the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 was loaded onto the site on 25th March 2011, but the Deprivation profile report is still based on the older IMD 2007. More regular and timely data updates. New datasets are highlighted in the news items page (www.bhlis.org/news/), however only 3 new data items have been posted in the previous 12 months (for IMD 2010, Child Benefit data, and population estimates). Time series data such as Jobseekers Allowance (shown to Sept 2009) and
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Incapacity Benefit (shown to 2007) do not show the latest data published by national sources. The key reports on the system are static, i.e. copied and pasted in from documents, and not updated with the latest data – eg http://www.bhlis.org/profiles/profile?profileId=139&geoTypeId= and http://www.bhlis.org/profiles/profile?profileId=23&geoTypeId= There is little metadata explaining the datasets. Eg, the Data Views give little information (beyond the title) on the dataset definition, source, dates, geographies – until you actually view the individual indicators. This makes it harder for users to understand what information is available, and more work to reuse the data in reports or funding bids. For example, only when you open the actual data in “DWP datasets” does it become apparent that this contains Incapacity Benefit data only, not Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Disability living Allowance, Attendance Allowance etc. Better signposting to resources. There are an enormous amount of resources on the system, including key reports such as the JSNA and State of the City. However, these are rather tucked away on the site, with no indication that there are more than 300 reports on the system. Identify what extra material is available for registered users. There is information on how to register on the Home page, but no indication on what extra material this would unlock.

Website brand and usability • Look and feel could do with a refresh. Branding is default InstantAtlas (the underlying software), feels rather dated, and doesn’t reflect the city branding. Layouts on some of the pages are unclear, for example the news page (www.bhlis.org/news/) shows all items with date and headings in white text on white background – I only noticed these when I highlighted an item. Navigation could be improved: The logic of the top nav menus not clear (some jump you to national data sites, others to general partner sites). There is no way of going straight to reports (profiles) or data (explorer) or other functions without going back to the Home page. The team that runs BHLIS should be highlighted. Currently this team is invisible, with no trace on the website of who is responsible. The contact page is empty (www.bhlis.org/contactus), and the feedback page simply shows a web-form. This makes it less likely that users will see BHLIS as the ‘go-to’ place for info – who would they contact if they need more help on using the system or understanding/ interpreting the data? This is especially relevant as there are key data analysis staff at BHCC with a remit to support the VCS as part of their role.

111111 Many of these suggestions could be achieved relatively quickly and cost-effectively, and would help BHLIS fulfil the role of providing effective local information support for VCS and other users across the city.
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OCSI, 12th August 2011.

Section 1

What is BHLIS? How does it meet VCS needs?

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Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI)