For Open Data to be truly open, it needs to be accessible to everyone. That means that the success of open data should be measured not just by the volume of data released, but by how easy it is to access and explore that data.
The UK's Department for Transport publishes an annual release of road safety data that describes the circumstances of personal injury road accidents on public roads in Great Britain, including the types of vehicles involved and details of casualties. In total, the dataset covers almost 8 million road traffic accidents, dating back 35 years.
The source data is released as a series of CSV format text files. Currently, anyone wanting to begin looking at the full dataset would need to download almost half a gigabyte of data. Once downloaded, the files are too big to open in a tool like Microsoft Excel, so users will need specialist software to start analysing the data. And even if you can open the files, there is still more work to be done: you need to match up the codes in the raw data records with their descriptions in another.
In short: while this data is available, it's really only available to expert statisticians, with specialist knowledge and tools.
We developed SuperWEB2 because we think there's a better way to share your data. It enables organisations to disseminate large volumes of data that anyone can use: a browser-based solution where anyone can start answering their own questions just by dragging and dropping the relevant variables onto a table.
To see the difference, we took the department's data and loaded it into the SuperSTAR platform. Below are just five insights we noticed from spending a few minutes with the data in SuperWEB2...
You can check out the data for yourself in our online open data demo.
1. British Roads are Getting Safer, at a Remarkable Rate
Whatever the reason, be it safer cars, better roads, or successful anti-drink driving campaigns, British roads today are safer than they have ever been. There's been a dramatic drop in the total number of accidents, particularly since the turn of the century:
Road deaths show a similar trend, down from over 6,300 in 1979, to 1,732 in 2015:
2. Speed Kills
The vast majority of accidents occur on roads with 30mph speed limits:
But more deaths happen at 60mph:
3. Most Fatalities Happen in Good Conditions
Despite what you might expect, most road deaths happen on dry roads in good weather conditions:
4. The Overwhelming Majority of Road Deaths affect Young Males
Pedestrians killed on the roads are predominately men and women over the age of 75:
However, drivers, passengers and riders who die on the roads are disproportionately young and male:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that last statistic, drivers of vehicles involved in fatal accidents are overwhelmingly young and male too:
5. Friday Night is the Most Dangerous Time of the Week
Looking at road deaths by day of week, Fridays and Saturdays stand out:
And you might want to stay off the roads on Friday night, as it’s by far the most dangerous time of the week: