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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Where did the Suffolk Observatory come from? 

The Suffolk Observatory has existed since 2002 as a site offering data for the people of Suffolk but this most recent version is a special collaboration between public sector organisations in Suffolk. Suffolk County Council, Babergh DC, Forest Heath DC, Ipswich BC, Mid-Suffolk DC, St-Edmundsbury BC, Suffolk Coastal DC, Suffolk Police and Public Health Suffolk jointly fund the new version of the site which went live in early 2010. The joint funding arrangement means funding contributions of each partner are kept low and resources are pooled to get the best results for all agencies and cut down on duplication of effort. Now all of our partners access data from this one resource at the click of a mouse and are able to promote use amongst communities and local businesses. 

Who is the target audience? 

The Suffolk Observatory is open for everyone; analysts and researchers from the funding partner organisations, councillors, community groups, school children or just local people interested in their areas. We’re keen to encourage people to use data as evidence when writing funding bids or reports on the area and to track the impact of service delivery decisions or major events such as the recession, by monitoring data trends. Our completely free and open policy is designed to get as many people visiting the site and finding something useful on it as possible. 

Where does the data come from? 

A lot of the data is sourced from national data sources such as the Office of National Statistics, Government Departments or the Health Service. We bring the local data, at the lowest geographies possible, together from this huge range of sources so it’s easy for you to access, when you need it, all in one place. We also supplement this data with a selection of local data from the partner agencies involved such as data from the Connexions service or District Councils. 

Is the data up-to-date? 

Yes – we always upload the most up-to-date data as soon as we possibly can after it becomes available (our target is 7 days from release). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will find every dataset displaying the most recent month’s data. The nature of the way data is collected and prepared nationally means that in some cases there can be a time lag, for example, mid year population estimates from the Office of National Statistics are released in the summer and relate to the preceding year e.g. August 2011 release related to 2010 data. 

Is there any charge to use the data? 

No, all the data, reports and analysis, profiles and charts are completely free to use. We do, however, ask that you clearly reference the site when reproducing this material in other documents. The observatory is paid for by the Partners who set the direction for the site, its content and capabilities  

If you are interested in becoming a partner or just finding out more then click here.

Do I have to pay to register? 

No, the site is completely free to use and registration is not chargeable or mandatory to gain access to the data.  We would, however, encourage you to register as it help us manage the site more effectively.

What do the geographical terms mean e.g. LSOA? 

The Suffolk Observatory includes data at a wide range of geographical areas including standard geographies such as super output areas, wards and districts and customised geographies such as Children’s Cluster Areas.  These areas are defined in the Glossary

Can I get further help with using the site? 

Yes, there are a range of YouTube videos available on our YouTube channel to help users make the most of the site. They provide a brief step-by-step guide to using many of the key features of the site. If you need further assistance, you can also use the ‘Contact Us’ feature on the site where your query will be send to the appropriate person to deal with your query.

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