Last week, as the second national lockdown ended, shoppers across the country flocked to high streets, shopping centers and retail parks, in the hope of capitalising on plentiful discounts and bargains, as retailers attempt to clear billions of pounds worth of stock in the run up to Christmas.
This surge in shoppers returning to high streets is best exemplified by recent data, which revealed retail footfall rose over 85% week-on-week in England after national lockdown restrictions were lifted. And with Christmas just around the corner, and shoppers ceaselessly searching for the perfect gift for loved ones, similar footfall is expected in the coming weeks.
Undoubtedly, these findings will provide real optimism for the retail sector in the run up to Christmas, but it’s important for consumers hitting the shops, restaurants and bars to remain vigilant. Despite infection rates decreasing, as well as the rollout of the vaccine beginning, clear and present threats still remain. People need to make informed choices when it comes to planning their movements over the festive period and beyond – having visibility over infection rates within communities is therefore going to be vital. To be able to do this effectively, people must make use of publicly available data – this is where tools such as the NHS Digital’s Neighbourhood View can make a real difference.
The NHS Digital’s Neighbourhood View, is a dashboard, built in partnership with TrueCue, Goldman Sachs and Aire Logic, which brings together coronavirus triage data, combined with coronavirus cases, to show the latest trends, numbers and rates of coronavirus across each Middle Super Output Area (MSOA) in England. The data available within the dashboard is based on public information and centralising this into a single platform means people now have instant access to vital resources.
The MSOA map also lets people see cases within incredibly small areas, as little as 7,000 people. The advantage of presenting the data in this manner means a person can freely access and search any postcode for information about a neighbourhood and understand the presence of the virus in that area.
Critically, what the dashboard also taps into is the wider knowledge and thirst from the public, for information. Throughout the crisis, the public’s exposure to data has increased dramatically. From the reporting of daily cases in the mainstream media to understanding the position of the “R” number, people have become much more data literate, sometimes without even realising it. The key here has been to ensure when data is presented, it’s done so in a manner that is digestible and accessible. If there is jargon or important details are not presented early on in quality documentation, the public will be less likely to understand key quality issues and might even misinterpret the data. As stated in The Government Data Quality Framework, users must be kept informed about data quality regularly and accessible information should be included with any data sets, reports or other data products.
Ultimately, we need to serve the public with instant, readily accessible information on the presence of the virus in particular areas, and tools like the NHS Digital’s Neighbourhood View dashboard do just that. Whether they are going out to bars and restaurants, undertaking leisure activities or visiting friends or family, the public must follow government guidelines whilst making sensible, informed choices through the use data. To put it simply, having visibility over infection rates within communities is going to be vital in the coming weeks.
The country is entering another crucial period. Restrictions ending, as well as the impending arrival of a vaccine are a cause for huge optimism, but it is important people are informed and vigilant at all times. We are still going to be living with the virus in the immediate future, with the majority of the country placed in either tier two or three areas. The public therefore need to be sensible, leveraging publicly available tools and data to stay informed and safe.
Salma believes the power of data is available at the palm of our hands, the opportunity to leverage insight from that data has never been more exiting. As a digital marketing executive, she enjoys building and showcasing her creative skills using software such as Adobe Photoshop and Infogram.