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Mapping a healthier Oxfordshire (Active Oxfordshire & GDI)

In 2021, the Good Data Institute established new frontiers on the other side of the globe with the launch of the UK branch, headed by Tom Taylor. Very quickly, a base of talented, socially-minded volunteers began to grow, enabling Tom to lead a team for the inaugural UK project with Active Oxfordshire. This month, that project came to an end, marking a milestone in GDI’s UK expansion and giving an exciting indication of projects to come.

Active Oxfordshire

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxfordshire is facing significant challenges. Activity levels have worsened and health inequalities have increased. These challenges are particularly pronounced in the young, the elderly, and the disabled. Studies from Age UK suggest that proportions of inactivity rise sharply between the age groups of 55-74 and 75+ with 32% of those aged 75 and over, doing no physical activity at all. Moreover, since COVID-19, one in three older people have less energy, and one in five older people feel less steady on their feet.

Active Oxfordshire is a local, independent charity funded by Sport England which is dedicated to fighting inactivity and challenging inequality. The team focuses its key interventions on increasing physical activity opportunities for children and young people, older people, people living with health conditions or disabilities, and people affected by mental health difficulties. This is achieved through adopting a place-based approach to these interventions and, with partners, focusing on the ten wards experiencing the highest levels of deprivation across Oxfordshire.

The Challenge

During the project, the GDI team helped to overcome a dual challenge: 1) locating the areas in Oxfordshire most in need of Active’s valuable opportunities and 2) quantifying this for the charity’s funders.

The county of Oxfordshire is divided into 407 Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) and, in the past, Active used public indices of deprivation to target the right areas. However, the locations that benefit the most are dependent on the purpose and type of service they provide. Comparing individual metrics for certain areas (such as the Child Wellbeing Index, income deprivation, access to green spaces, and mental health measures) does not objectively or unbiasedly make clear where the most deprived areas are on aggregate. Moreover, these metrics each have varying importance depending on the aid being offered (for example, the Child Wellbeing Index is of low priority when considering the promotion of activity in the elderly).

GDI’s Approach

To tackle these issues, the GDI team synthesised the most relevant public health data into a Tableau dashboard with sliders to orientate the weighting of each metric (pictured above). With this tool, Active Oxfordshire and their partners can dynamically view and rank the areas in Oxfordshire, using any combination of the deprivation measures. This ensures they are aiming to produce the maximum impact with data-driven justification that can be demonstrated to their funders.

Led by Tom, the team of five talented volunteers from across the globe (based in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand) included Aditya Ravuri, Brooke Wakefield, Eve Richardson, Keerthi Nagaraj, and Shiv Kathiravel.

Aditya, Brooke, Keerthi, and Shiv began by investigating the available data; specifically, Aditya explored the correlations between key deprivation metrics, noticing that highly related metrics may ‘double-count’ and mislead a user.

Keerthi and Shiv visualised the data in an interactive dashboard on Google Data Studio, facilitating idea-generation and showing the difficulty in aggregating ‘by-eye’.

Eve was a recent UK addition to the GDI community and assisted the team by applying her statistical knowledge in normalising and mapping the variables.

The Tableau Public dashboard was produced with advice from Lizzie Reid and Alick Bird whilst check-ins with Matt Roebuck and other colleagues at Active Oxfordshire ensured its completion.

The completion of the Active Oxfordshire project is a crucial step for the UK Branch of GDI. It has been an amazing learning curve for me personally as well as the wider branch. It is a first stepping stone in the UK towards growing the reputation to that of the branches in Australia and New Zealand. GDI is thrilled to have 2 further UK projects in the pipeline (stay tuned!) and is gathering momentum towards a critical mass of fellows and volunteers. A huge thank you goes out to the Oxford Hub for their support in our development.” – Tom Taylor, Head of the GDI UK Branch and Project Lead

Partner With Us

In 2022, we are excited to see more projects completed by the growing base of UK volunteers; if you are an NFP based in the UK and would like support from GDI, feel free to get in touch here:


About GDI

The Good Data Institute (established 2019) is a registered not-for-profit organisation (ABN: 6664087941) that aims to give not-for-profits access to data analytics (D&A) support & tools. Our mission is to be the bridge between the not-for-profit world and the world of data analytics practitioners wishing to do social good. Using D&A, we identify, share, and help implement the most effective means for growing NFP people, organisations, and their impact.

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