At the end of the year data.gov.uk references over 5400 data sets, not at all bad in a year since the formal launch on 21st January. With the “Show us a better way” (..to use the data) campaign rewarding applications for local recycling, cycle paths, school catchment areas and postbox locations. So lots about using the data, and loads of super apps built in quick time. The really strong emphasis to emerge has been around the data visualisation.
This is all great progress, but not of course and end in itself. The real point is to create better understanding from which better decisions can be made, whether for personal benefit, for the public purse, for probity or national policy. In the age of austerity decisions are tougher, but can be made easier and made more confidently with the insight that comes with the right analysis and interpretation of that data.
So for me perhaps the most significant step on the on the mainstream evolution on our civilisation’s relationship with its data is the publication by the UK Statistics Authority in July on “The value of statistical commentary”. In short – actually only a two page statement – it places clear emphasis on the messages that come from the analysis of the data, and that statistical commentary are equally important enough to be public property, just like the data. So for me that’s one step closer to the messages which is the real treasure in any analysis of any data.
So the real insight and understanding comes from a blending of the analysis and visualisation. There's been a great data and visualisation effort, with more to come on the analysis and insight activities. So here's my "effort index" on how I see the relative effort to date.
So if 2010 saw the full Dawn of the Data Designer, then 2011 may well start the Age of the Analyst.