Public COVID-19 dashboards allows people to check local infection rates

NHS Digital provides a range of interactive data dashboards which help people to understand and interpret complex information about coronavirus (COVID-19). NHS Digital provides public facing data visualisation on our dashboard hub as well as secure controlled data visualisation for sensitive data. To date products have been developed that have helped to identify cohorts for clinical trials and provided the public and policy makers with insights on groups and individuals that are shielding and clinically extremely vulnerable as well as providing insights on vaccines to key teams.

An example of a public facing dashboard is the the Coronavirus In your area dashboard which went live in November 2020. It was designed to show members of the public the number of reported COVID-19 cases where they live and the number of people who have had their symptoms assessed over the phone by NHS 111. Information on neighbouring areas can be accessed as well. This information has helped people to understand their personal risk and make more informed decisions to protect themselves and others.

Within the space of 2 months, from November to December 2020, the dashboard had received over a million hits and in mid-February 2021, it had received over 2.5 million views. It now receives over 200,000 hits even on a quiet week with peaks in excess of that and is now transitioning to Test and Trace.

Alistair Bullward, Product Owner for Open Data and Dashboards at NHS Digital

“During the pandemic, decision makers have needed accurate, robust and timely data in an accessible format. NHS Digital has produced a range of dashboards to support different uses by a range of professionals; from public health directors to researchers and analysts. We think it is really important to empower the public with information too. It helps people to feel more in control and to make decisions that are best for them and their communities.

“The aim of the Coronavirus in your area dashboard is to give local people access to information about COVID-19 numbers and transmission rates in their locality including neighbouring communities. It’s presented in a clear and concise way which is easy to understand at a glance. The aim is to inform the public debate by giving people local data that is tangible and relevant to them, so that it can actually inform people’s behaviour.

The underlying data is also being used by policy makers, allowing them to make informed decisions. There’s a whole ecosystem of users putting this data to work and I am very proud and excited to be part of both our growing analytical capability and inciting fresh public interest in accessing and acting upon health and care information.

Ruth Day, local pharmacy worker

“I regularly use the dashboard as I think it has more relevant information compared to other COVID-19 websites. It allows me to see how many cases there are within 3 miles of the surrounding villages. It helps us at the pharmacy understand the level of risk, so we can take relevant precautions at work.

“On a more personal level because my dad is in a high risk category, I check the dash board regularly keeping an eye on particularly high levels of cases. I can then decide to work fewer shifts to protect my family. Being able to see the level of cases in our locality, we’re also able to reassure some of our more elderly customers. I think it’s a great tool to use”.

Jane Rollings, shielding patient

“As I’m on the shielding patient list I wanted to understand more about infection rates in and around my area, rather than numbers across the whole of the Leeds and Yorkshire region. It’s helped me understand more about the level of risk to me and my family. I wish we'd had this information earlier and in this format during the first wave and lockdown last summer. It would have helped me feel a bit more confident about going out, more so than I did when the incidences of COVID-19 were lower. I also like statistics and maps. The geek in me wanted to look at the postcodes for different places, like some of the places we go on holiday as well as where our friends live. I have found the information in this dashboard extremely useful and I use it regularly, I find it really helpful and informative. It's reassuring to have this information at my fingertips”.