The Search for Data

18 Mar 2021 by Anaeko 8 minute read

Finding, analysing data, and new open data sources.

With research done we had a plan, we had next steps and we hit our second hiccup, data. Our sponsors included in their support package data. The data that we received was unique, interesting and it had the potential to be really powerful but it was instead quite limited. This is a reflection on how difficult it is for government organisations to just release, that even with strict data sharing agreements, they're extremely cautious and rightly so about sharing data with partners. When we quizzed our sponsor on the data that they had, they admitted they had so much more but it took them months just to give us the data that they had given already and by the time they'd arranged to to give us more the complete data set that would really help us the SBRI would have been over.


It was time to look for our own data. I'd like to draw your attention to the hugely valuable data resources that are available through the open data initiatives right across the country. For Northern Ireland this means NISRA which is the Northern Ireland statistical research agency a sister organisation to the office for national statistics.  The Open Data NI platform and are open data platforms for the UK in general and have immense amounts of information on our public lives, population studies, geospatial poverty that includes education poverty, environmental poverty, and financial property. We have data about GP practices that includes information about the number of people suffering from respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, long-term health problems. We have a wealth of data on prescription spending all of this data is available but what did we do with it? 


What comes naturally to us, as a software company, we hoovered the data out and we created a consolidated database. Consolidated data hub built from 11 different sources of data that covers hundreds of millions of rows, dozens of different aspects of public life in Northern Ireland. We linked and aggregated all of these and created a geospatial model that allowed us to explore this data.  To provide this data out to other people and to take in new sources of data through data fields, we started looking at building on top of this. 


Exploring how the data is related how pollution and health and deprivation are connected we were trying to understand what the data was telling us we were looking for patterns. 


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Topics: Open Data, Healthcare, data discovery, Innovation, data sharing

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