We’ve pleased to announce the alpha release of our Where Does My Money Go prototype. This is a web application that allows you to explore UK public spending – and you can take a look here:

Update: access underlying data here.

This an “alpha” release and its still a way from finished – we’re putting this out in the spirit of “release early, release often”. We’d greatly appreciate your feedback on specific bugs or problems – as well as your two cents on the prototype so far. Also we’d love your thoughts about issues that we’re aware of and currently working on:

  • There are some issues with resizing for different screens. We have noticed things don’t look quite right with 1024 resolution screens. E.g. text overlaps in places.
  • The national section is not yet functional.
  • We are using the terminology derived from the datasets we are using, but are concerned that that this is rather jargonny and inaccessible.

So – over to you! What do you think? What could we do better?

Alpha of "Where Does My Money Go?"

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.

19 thoughts on “Alpha Release of Where Does My Money Go? Prototype”

  1. Reposted from email conversation:

    This looks great, especially for a prototype.

    A couple of quick comments:
    * One immediately misses more data to be able to dig deeper and explore more
    * I’m not thrilled with the “pie charts on regions” map, and actually
    think that you’ll find such visualizations used as examples of bad
    infographic design in a lot of literature, even works of some of the
    new advisors :)
    * As a user, once I’ve found something of interest I’d like to be able
    to export the raw data somehow to use in Excel, SPSS, for importing
    into a database, etc.
    * There are a lot of opportunities to add tooltips with additional
    information (such as amounts, etc.) on mouse over.

    Hope this is of help, and that you don’t get me wrong – this is a great start!

  2. Congrats on this. It’s stunning. Hugely informative site. Users can understand at glance national priorities, comparisons between regions, long term funding trends. etc. I’d like to see a solid backgrounder on the stats, the methodology and data sources and a clear link to your API. Also, provide somee background on the project and the folks behind to show how solid it is. Obviously you’ll want to add some interactive features down the line (tho maybe sooner rather than later), allowing users to compare their district with others — or averages, perhaps a motion time line, some Gapminder type charts. Just a quick look tells me this has lot of potential.

  3. Looks pretty, but it’s very confusing to navigate. I’d rather the data in comparative tables than a huge flash infographic.

  4. Nice start. Lovely.

    I’d put lotsa effort into turning gov jargon into normal english. Much more important than progressing the visual design TBH.

  5. Not enough detail. Definitions confusing – what does “social protection” mean? Police? Social workers?

    What’s included in the broadcasting bit?

  6. Nice!

    Some comments here – mainly, I agree with the “needs cleaning up/clarifying” idea – a lot of it’s good data but isn’t very clear to the end user.

  7. @Tom, Nick: looks like de-jargonizing should definitely be a top priority. We’ve already got a glossary worksheet on our data summary spreadsheet if anyone wants to dig in.

    Also any ideas/suggestions on how to integrate the dejargonized information once we have it. Should there be a ‘button’ to switch between formal and ‘informal’ (de-jargonzied), or should ‘formal’ be default with ‘informal’ tool-tips, or …?

    @Nick: where is more detail needed? Perhaps everywhere but specific example(s) would be really useful.

    @Richard: completely agree that we need different interfaces to this data — though I think the “flash infographic” is a pretty good way in, especially for the less sophisticated users!

    Following up your earlier suggestions :) we’re already doing some work on a simple “search box” + tables interface to the data in parallel to the main visualization effort. However, given our limited resources at present I’m not sure whether it will be mature enough to be part of the prototype — if there’s anyone out there who’d like to help hack on this we’d love to hear from you …

  8. re/ more detail…

    There’s a few cases where a top-level heading is immediately followed by a second header almost as big, eg/ Defence (£37bn) – Military Defence (£30bn) or Health (£110bn) – Medical services (£107bn). These second headers could be broken up if possible – they’re certainly the places where the lack of detail is most obvious.

    (Another example – we have “Other police services” accounting for 90% of the cost of “Policing”, which is a bit weird)

  9. Very nice indeed. Really like the regional stuff – this could become an interesting campaigning tool, especially if the debate moves in the direction of regional differences. Is it possible to break down by constituency?

    The government jargon needs fleshing out – perhaps when you drill down to a single category there should be some concrete examples of what this category is (e.g. new library built in Hull; 500 new policemen trained).

    Very nice visually, though. Well done indeed!

  10. Looks great! Good work.

    My feelings on the UI are that the top drilldowns are the wrong thing to have at the top and therefore catch the eye in first place. ie. remove the uk wide/national/regional and sectional drillowns from showing at the start, and put them in a controls sidebar or something. That way the primary object of interest will be the data.

    Another thing is how do you know you can drilldown on the circles? A mouseover with the name of the sector and click to focus would be good. In the same area, the click to go back to the main section is not obvious.

  11. @Andrew: you’re quite right that in some cases the breakdown isn’t as useful as it might be. The figures we’re using come from the breakdown of ‘functional’ spending into subfunctional and departmental spending in PESA and we’re limited by how good (or bad) that is.

    We’re currently working to extract better sub-departmental breakdowns from what are known as the “supplementary budget estimates” (SBIs) but these need to be liberated from PDFs which is a bit tiresome! If you (or anyone else) would like to help out we’d be delighted — details of where we’re keeping all the data including the SBIs can be found on http://www.wheredoesmymoneygo.org/data/.

    @Ali: glad to hear this is useful. We’d really like to get more localized and subregional but we’re limited by the data available (in a coherent form). We’re working in a variety of directions to get more and better data and any suggestions or help in getting more data would be very welcome!

  12. The site is looking really good. I would agree with the comments of the pie charts on maps – not as easy to see what is going on there – but overall the various visualisation devices are put to good use.

    My comments from an email conversation with Jonathan Gray:
    1. The comment link is broken (from the UK wide long term trends)
    2. I’d like to have more granularity, i.e. to know what makes up each category, especially as some subcategories are included twice, e.g. personal social services. It’s not clear whether these overlap.
    3. In the trends, there is nothing to indicate the difference between “real” and “actual”.

    Keep it up!

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