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A new ‘What’s New’

A group of us have been working on revamping the ‘What’s New’ report for the Presentation and Dissemination Committee (PDC).

This hidden gem is a report published quarterly on the PDC pages of this website detailing some of the exciting statistical, presentational or data science work being done in each department. We think that these reports could be useful to inspire and join up people working on similar things in different departments.

Previously the reports were not presented in the best format, especially given they are about great work in presentation. Each quarter’s report was a static word document that contained no visuals, was very text heavy and generally inaccessible for users. Hence the need for our work to revamp them.

We identified three areas we needed to improve to create a better ‘What’s New’ report:

  • the data collection
  • the report presentation
  • how the reports are advertised

Data Collection

The data for the ‘What’s New’ reports is collected by statisticians in each department and submitted as a quarterly update to a google sheet.

Through some user research we realised that people wanted to be able to easily see which departments were working on similar things, so you could identify departments you may want to collaborate with. To do this we came up with a set of themes each new update could be tagged with, allowing updates of the same theme to be grouped together.

David Jephson, Allison Merrett and Martin Griffiths set about redesigning the google sheet where each return is collated. This included adding a new column, with a drop-down menu, for the new themes.

Presentation

One ambition we had was to make the ‘What’s New’ reports interactive, allowing people to easily navigate and filter the reports to find the information they want. We decided to use the Power BI software to produce a new interactive dashboard that could replace the static ‘What’s New’ reports.

David Trieu had lots of experience working with Power BI to produce interactive dashboards for the Office of Rail and Road popular statistics publications. Using this experience, and taking the Health and Care Landscape tool as a template, David came up with our initial beta site, which we shared at PDC and received really positive feedback.

After some further development work we published the dashboard to the GSS website. We hope to improve this dashboard going forward so we would really appreciate any feedback you can give us by filling out a short questionnaire.

Advertising

The ‘What’s New’ reports are hidden away in a corner of the GSS website and are little known by government statisticians. We have both been statisticians in the government for a few years before starting this project and had never even heard of the reports before then. For a report, one of whose roles is to facilitate inter departmental collaboration, this lack of profile is clearly an issue.

To increase the profile of the report we decided to try and start a quarterly blog on the GSS site. These blogs will describe one of the best bits of statistics or presentation in the last quarter and link to the interactive ‘What’s New’ dashboard.

Edward Beake and Adam Pearce
Edward and Adam are statisticians from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Work and Pensions respectively and co-chairs of the ‘What’s New’ working group.