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COVID & Demographics in Yorkshire

We've done a lot of work over the past year or so collating and visualising COVID-19 data, especially COVID-19 data at Local Authority level. As a result we were approached by Magpie - a creative behaviour change campaigns agency - who are our neighbours in Munro House.

Magpie had been commissioned by Public Health England to encourage people across Yorkshire and the Humber to get vaccinated and to promote COVID-safe behaviours. To be able to adapt to local needs, changing guidance, and new variants they needed to be able to see geographic trends in COVID rates and vaccination rates and to compare those to demographic data. Given that all the relevant data is spread across a variety of different websites they wanted a bespoke interactive map that they could use themselves but which they could also share with stakeholders.

Regularly visiting a selection of different websites to get the data, extract it, and bring it together is a time-consuming job. That stops you from actually getting on with the important work. We already had experience of compiling cases, deaths, and vaccination data so we already had a good start. For population demographics Magpie were using the excellent Local Health tool created by Public Health England. PHE make it easy to download the data under the Open Government Licence - that made it simple to reuse.

Innovation day

We had a mini innovation/hack day at the end of July where, after a brief from Magpie, we tried out ideas for visualisations.

Susanne and Giles found data about vaccination sites from NHS England and attempted to automate extraction of this dataset. It isn't clear how often it is updated or how complete it is - it had been updated a couple of days before but hasn't been updated in the month since.

Susanne created a PowerBI visualisation that let you slice and dice the vaccination data by age group/Local Authority and compare that to deprivation via the IMD score (2019).

Power BI visualisation
Power BI visualisation showing 1st vaccination percentage by age group and IMD score in Yorkshire and the Humber
Credit: Susanne Schmidt, ODI Leeds

Stuart created an MSOA (small area) hex cartogram "heatmap" of the region using the hex layout from the House of Commons Library (with some tweaks). This gives each small area the same visual size on the screen so doesn't hide inner city areas as a geographic map can sometimes do. We added a dropdown box so you could select which demographic data, cases data, or vaccination-related data you wanted to show.

At the end of the day, we came back together with Magpie to discuss what had been done. There was a suggestion to have two side-by-side hex maps so that people could compare things so we added that in the days afterwards. Recently we've added a "correlation plot" underneath the hex maps so that you can look for correlations between the two selected datasets.

Two hex cartographs of Yorkshire and the Humber showing IMD score (left) and the percentage of 18-24 year olds who have had their 1st vaccine dose (right). The correlation plot (bottom) shows that the more deprived an area the lower the vaccination rate amongst this age group.
Credit: ODI Leeds

As you can see our work is never over! We keep finding new ways to visualise great data even after a project is finished - and this time won't be different. There is still so much to be explored when it comes to COVID-19 data and how it relates to broader societal trends and demographics. So we'll keep digging and if you want to get your hands dirty and join us, or have an idea where to dig next contact us via