This work is partly in response to the 2010 Social Work Inspectorate Agency’s report, Improving Social Work in Scotland, which recommended that data visualisation could help social service practitioners make better decisions through providing clarity and insight into trends (SWIA, 2010). As well as developing a web-based tool to demonstrate the value of visualising statistical data , we ran a series of workshops to encourage practitioners to use freely available data visualisation tools to create attractive, engaging and informative visualisations.
These activities are designed to help stakeholders to interrogate data, improve their understanding and, crucially, develop confidence to use and question data. This is not only innovative, but has been shown to lead to innovation. For instance, the use of data visualisation prompts people to think differently, to ask intelligent questions and make changes accordingly – educating and empowering both people who are supported by services and their supporters to aid their decision-making. The tool is available to use free of charge to anyone working in social services, and as it is built on open access software, incurs very little cost in its design.