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Open data: Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab

The Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab is using open data in a variety of innovative ways to analyse and visualise what is happening in the local area.

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The Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab ( is using open data in a variety of innovative ways to analyse and visualise what is happening in the local area. This case study highlights how this data is being used to inform, assist and engage with the voluntary and community sector and inform decision and policy makers in the council. Specifically the case study explains how Trafford uses data to:

  • develop locality profiles to identify need,
  • collaborate and engage with voluntary and community groups so as to target council resources to relevant areas and groups.

In the beginning

The council held a wide range of data about Trafford in different parts of the authority and were keen to bring this together centrally providing a single point of contact for all data needs. This approach was readily supported at the senior level by the chief executive, the leader and other elected members, all of whom were engaged from the outset and keen to provide something that local people would find useful. In addition, developing an open platform/environment would have other benefits as it would:

  • allow service managers in the council to better understand their services and the demand for them
  • additionally provide data to the community and voluntary groups so that they could use the range of information available to support and augment their own work and projects.

As context, it is worth noting that the council staff working in the Innovation Lab all came from the corporate performance team which meant that they already had a real understanding of the business need and knew where the most suitable data was held.


The Lab is bringing together open data about Trafford and its communities, and includes interactive features designed to encourage people and organisations to explore and use the data. This can be done through a series of pre-set reports and area profiles. Data can also be transferred onto colour coded maps, showing topics at a glance that include amongst others, child poverty, crime, childhood obesity or benefit claims. Open data: Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab benefting the community: Using the data held on the Lab Portal has benefited the community and local organisations in a variety of ways and supporting individuals lies at the heart of the project. There are a number of ways in which this is happening but these can be grouped under three generic service areas of health, housing and leisure.


One innovative use of data came from a need to improve the low rates of cervical cancer screening in Trafford. A map tool was created by the Lab team using individual screening rates data from GP’s which was overlaid with small area demographic information allowing a project group of consultants, and representatives from PH England, and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to visualise a range of data using different layers on a map. As a result the group developed a strategy to tackle the low screening issue, and critically, agreed where they would focus their efforts most effectively. Having identified at a street level those areas where least women were being screened, information leaflets were produced in a series of relevant languages and health workers delivered these and spoke to women in these communities, gathering information about their concerns around screening and discussing these with them. As a result of the project which targeted groups identified through open data, screening rates in Trafford have increased by 10%.

Trafford is planning to launch a care co-ordination centre which tracks the journey of individuals through the health service in order to provide a co-ordinated view of how people move through the health system. Following the success of the screening project, the Info Trafford team are currently working with the CCG to see how the data from this can come through the lab to allow effective visualisation of information that is gathered. This will give a clear picture of how many people are going where to GPs and using specific local health services and will provide the ability to compare usage levels in different parts of the local council area and relate this to demographic and socio economic profiles of the areas.


Trafford Lab data is being used by the Trafford Housing Trust, the largest social landlord in the area. Members of the Lab are working to show how open data can inform the business of the Trust and be used to market their properties, for instance fully understanding the areas where the trust are building properties in order to target their marketing effectively. Open data is also being used to determine what type of properties to build in new developments – e.g. 1-bedroom flats, or 3- bedroom houses. Data is also being used to support the trust in finding the most effective ways of filling empty properties, for example by looking at schools data, local amenities and facilities and promoting these. Open data is supplied alongside the properties on Trafford’s Homesearch site – where prospective tenants can find out more about the area that the property is situated in so that they can make a more informed choice about whether to bid for a property. Leisure: To promote the range of leisure and sport facilities that are available to local residents and to develop linkage with local businesses, the Innovation Lab initialised a website scrape using the local leisure trust website that listed all leisure centres in the area and the facilities and the activities available at these. Using these lists a more appealing visualisation was created which a local leisure trust was able to post on its website.

Engaging with the community

Trafford Council has moved to locality working and created four new locality partnerships. The Lab’s data and intelligence is being used to develop locality profiles and identify areas of need and develop local priorities.

Each locality has a board consisting of elected members, strategic partners, voluntary organisations and community champions who all come together to make decisions about the area and agree priorities for tackling the issues that are of key importance to that area. Members of the Innovation Lab team have delivered a presentation to each locality group using local data to illustrate the needs of each area. Maps and charts were used to show what the data said about each area allowing the group to make evidence based decisions. A community asset mapping exercise was also run so that the assets already available in each area (a mixture of physical places, land, properties, community groups and social clubs) could be aligned with the needs identified.

Having seen the enthusiasm for information and data at these workshops, the Innovation Lab team progressed to running regular open data surgeries. Pitched primarily at local voluntary and charity groups the surgeries allow people to discuss the data held on the Lab Portal, the things that can be done with it and their project ideas. Data from the Innovation Lab has been used to make funding bids more compelling and evidence based and has contributed to funding being awarded to various schemes and also to evidence and quantify the success of existing projects to funders.

Taking stock

Opening access to a range of data and providing guidance about the variety of effective ways it can be used, has created an awareness of data in Trafford and has shown how this can best support individuals and groups. The outcome is that local projects using the data are likely to be more targeted, more appropriate and ultimately more beneficial as the services provided are likely to be more fit for purpose. In addition, voluntary groups in Trafford have expressed, via social media, positive views on what the Lab has achieved and how it is already supporting residents and others. 

Useful advice

When considering the development of a similar approach to that used in Trafford, it is worth remembering that:

  • Showing openness and a willingness to articulate and share knowledge and information creates interest
  • Community engagement and speaking to local groups about what they are doing, what they need and what they want is key
  • Senior level buy-in is helpful to create a pro-open data approach through the organisation

For more information, visit:

1. The Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab:

For more information about the Trafford open data project contact: [email protected]