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September 23, 2015

Tableau tackles UK child poverty with data insights

Visualisation tool used to make data more accessible.

By James Nunns

The North East Child Poverty Commission is utilising Tableau to make a positive impact on child poverty.

The Durham based commission is using Tableau to create insights from public data sources such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Using the eight years’ worth of data proved to be time-consuming and difficult for the commission, so it enlisted the help of DataKind. The international NGO that brings together data science and social sector experts, which aim to move projects forward that relate to tough social challenges.

The commission and NGO worked together to prepare the data. Once it was prepared, volunteers from the NGO helped to give the data some life with Tableau.

The idea of visualising the data was to allow external audiences to both see problems and to enable them to resolve them.

North East Child Poverty Commission works by linking the government, which provides the data, to local authorities, charities, and the public.

Emma Prest, GM, DataKind UK, said: "Data is an important and largely untapped resource for charities, however they are often stretched to make use of it when it comes to resourcing and time.

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"By using data more efficiently, through visualisation, they are able to make a greater impact with less effort. There are a plethora of volunteers working in data who would like to help, and DataKind works to match them with good causes to support. This is a brilliant example of how we can harness the power of data science in the service of the greater good."

The commission is planning to expand on the Tableau-powered virtualisation. It will explore academic achievement, child health and local crime levels throughout the North East.

Dr Deborah Harrison, Coordinator of the North East Child Poverty Commission, said: "DataKind and Tableau have taken a complex piece of data and turned it into something more user-friendly and meaningful.

"The solution makes it easier to see child poverty ‘hotspots’, for example where child poverty levels are particularly high or where they have increased over time. Our goal is for local authorities to use this tool to enhance their existing knowledge of local child poverty levels, helping them to target their responses quickly and accurately."

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