Frequently Asked Questions

Below we have answered the questions that we’re regularly asked about Local Insight. Do of course get in touch with any other questions, or register for a demo if you’d like to have a play with the tool.

1. General FAQs
2. Fees
3. Data questions
4. Technical Questions

1. General FAQs

What is Local Insight?

Local Insight is a lightweight community focused Geographical Information System (GIS) system that provides vital information on the communities you work in.

Local Insight is based on the successful Community Insight platform, developed by OCSI and HACT for the social housing sector.

How does it work?

It’s simple to use – you simply upload your service data – postcodes or service reference numbers, and you can instantly generate in-depth maps and reports on the areas you work in. It doesn’t just overlay your stock on top of data maps, it allows you to define neighbourhoods (quite literally, by drawing on a map), report on them and compare them to your other neighbourhoods and communities.

Yes, but how does it actually work?

It is a web-based service that accesses Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion’s (OCSI) huge database of constantly updated public data. Its mapping base is Google’s well tested Google Maps technology.

How can it help me?

Local Insight reduces the burdens on data and analytical staff to provide community-focused information; providing instant access to key social data to all staff who need it, when they need it; and key strategic information for those making decisions around prioritisation of resources.

You can use it to:

  • Create in depth community profiles for each of your neighbourhoods
  • Export easy to use maps, charts and data to use in your own reports
  • Track and understand change over time
  • Identify “hotspots” where need is particularly acute
  • Access the information necessary to prioritise and target community investment
  • Generate information to inform bids and tenders, or community consultations and neighbourhood planning
  • Access new Census, welfare and other data on your communities as it is released
  • Provide real world data to feed into social impact measurement and assessment tools.

Who can use it?

Local Insight is designed for easy use by staff across local authorities and community organisations. Anyone with an interest in understanding the communities they work in better can make use of it. From community development workers to commissioners, there are practical applications across the whole organisation. Senior managers and boards will also welcome its strategic overview of the communities they work in.

Do staff require special training?

Using Local Insight requires no special training in GIS mapping or data analysis – anyone in the organisation can use the information and generate reports. It is designed so anyone can pick up, understand and use it within 90 seconds of logging in for the first time.

Where does the data come from?

It all comes from open data sources – drawn from the Census, live Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data, deprivation indices and other sources. It’s always up to date, because maintaining that data is one of OCSI’s core businesses.

Who are OCSI?

OCSI are Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, an applied research spin out from Oxford University who manage, maintain, analyse and provide access to public data. They provide data management and analysis services to significant parts of national and local public sectors.

Can I have a demo?

Yes – it’s easy to walk you through how the system works over the phone in about 30 minutes provided you’re by a PC or laptop running the right browser software. Please call us on 01273 810270 or email

Back to top

2. Fees FAQs

How much does it cost?

For a quote for Local Insight for your organisation, please get in touch and we would happy to talk through some options with you.

Local Insight, now with added digital credibility, is a registered service on G Cloud and can be viewed on Digital Marketplace. The G-Cloud framework is a completely new way for the public sector to buy commodity cloud services, streamlining the process of buying Local Insight.

Will the cost go up over time?

We have no plans to increase the subscription cost, which is pitched at a level which enables on-going investment product development during 2015.

Are there discounts for smaller users?

No, sorry. We have endeavoured to keep the price affordable for all users.

Back to top

3. Data questions

Where does the data come from?

It all comes from open data sources – drawn from the Census, live Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data, deprivation indices and other sources. It’s always up to date, because maintaining that data is one of OCSI’s core businesses.

Can it access locally held public data?

Not at present. The intention is that the tool should provide maximum possible access to the extensive national public data sets that are available.

What other data sets can it access?

At present Local Insight allows access to over 100 different data sets and indicators and provides reports on significantly more, including access to comparative and trend data.

You can also upload your organisation’s data into the system, using the intuitive ‘upload your data’ tool built into the Local Insight platform.

Can you overlay indicator sets?

Not at present, although it is straightforward to switch between maps. The map includes a range of composite indicators, including indices of deprivation, economic deprivation and child well-being, which bring together multiple data sets.

How up-to-date is the data?

It accesses one of the most up to date repositories of public data. Most indicators are updated on the day and at most within two days of release. All data will be reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure it is fully up to date. The age of the data will depend on source, for example, much DWP data is issued quarterly, educational attainment figures are released annually, whilst the census data is the most current data from 2011. Community Insight provides full and easily accessible information on the age of the data when it is presented.

What resolution is the data analysed to?

For the graphic mapping, to Lower Level Super Output Area (LSOA) where available, and to the lowest level available when higher than LSOA (about 1000-1500 homes). Detailed community profile reports draw on data down to Output Area (OA) level.

Can we share and reuse the data on Community Insight?

Yes, you are free to share and reuse the data. All data provided on Community Insight comes from ‘open data’ sources published using the Open Government Licence (OGL). Up-to-date data is collected daily by OCSI from more than 50 sources including the Census, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits data, deprivation indices and other sources.

What else does it do?

It doesn’t just produce pretty maps, it also generates, at the press of a button, detailed 50 page community profiles drawing on a much wider range of indicators, and including trend and historic data.

Can I export maps, charts and tables?

Yes, data can be exported in spreadsheet format. Maps and charts can be copy-pasted into documents.

4.The technical bit

What IT support does it need?

You will need an internet connection and a modern browser, such as Internet Explorer IE9 or above, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari, with JavaScript and cookies enabled.Older browsers (such as IE8), should work, however may show slower performance for some features. If you want to access the service you need to have access to this either on your PC or on a laptop. It also works on iPads and other tablets, as well as smartphones!

I don’t have the right browser installed, can I still use it?

Talk to your IT team. Some Housing Associations using the Community Insight product have installed Chrome as a secure and easy way to enable staff to use Local Insight. Because of the technology involved in building Local Insight, we will not be able to assure compatibility with IE8 or earlier.

Why don’t we support IE7 and IE8?

Newer versions of Internet Explorer (included IE9 and 10) correctly implement standards for javascript and other functionality requred to run Local Insight, with a number of organisations used to speed-up browsing. Although may Local Insight Users are successfully using IE 7 and 8, these older versions are IE versions are not fully standards compliant. As a result, when using Local Insight with IE7  or IE8, users may experience slow speed [for reference, Google stopped supporting IE7 in 2011, and IE8 in 2012. Other websites such as Facebook also no longer support IE7, while some even charge extra for IE7 users].

How secure is Local Insight?

The information on Local Insight is held on OCSI’s web servers, hosted in Nottingham, UK. Access to the logged-in sections of the site (including the service upload and display sections) is via secure HTTPS pages to prevent ‘man-in-the-middle’ and other redirect attacks.

Importantly however, Local Insight does not store sensitive personal data.

The only information provided by your organisation is non-sensitive service data including postcodes. If you have concerns over data security, please contact your own data compliance advisors.  OCSI will not use the data for anything other than the Local Insight family of products. Your data will never be used without your explicit consent or passed on to other organisations.

How many people can use it in my organisation?

One subscription covers an entire organisation for the year. As many users as you want can make use of it.

Do we need to install any software to run Local Insight?

No. Local Insight is a web-based tool that runs on all standard modern browsers, including mobile devices (phones and tablets). Supported browsers include IE9, IE10, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. You will need Javascript and cookies enabled. The tool will work on older browsers such as IE8, but may show slower performance for some features.

Does Local Insight need to be integrated with our IT systems?

No. As a web-based tool, Local Insight is a standalone service, and does not need to be integrated with any of your systems (whether these are in-house or externally hosted). Local Insight also runs fine on virtual desktop environments such as Citrix- although you may notice lower resolution images and maps as some virtual environments compress images to reduce bandwidth.

In order to load your service data into Local Insight, you will need to be able to export this data in standard (eg. Excel, CSV,, XML) format from your systems. This can then be loaded into Local Insight from a secure web-page.

Do we need to maintain Local Insight?

OCSI are continually improving Local Insight, rolling in data updates and new features on a regular basis. You don’t need to maintain anything specific, however you may want to refresh your service data from time-to-time to ensure Local Insight is based on your current service data – for example to reflect new developments.

Do staff require special training?

Using LocalInsight requires no special training in GIS mapping or data analysis- anyone in the organisation can use the information and generate reports. It is designed so anyone can pick up, understand and use it within 90 seconds of logging in for the first time.