An explanation of the shared data unit and what they do
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The BBC Shared Data Unit: Who are we

An innovative team of journalists investigating datasets to tell stories of public interest that matter to local audiences. We passionately believe that in a world where the amount of digital information has increased exponentially, public bodies will only be held to account if journalists have the tech skills and time to interrogate these sources. We will work with partners in the local media industry to widen the reporting of public data across the UK.

We believe in making our journalism accessible to as many people as possible. We believe data journalism opens up the potential for new storytelling techniques.

What we do

  • Monitor and interrogate officially published datasets to investigate issues of public interest
  • Use Freedom of Information laws to gather data not publically available
  • Extract structured content from web pages
  • Analyse datasets for local angles we can share with media partners
  • Present our findings in easy-to-understand guides
  • Work alongside secondees from the industry to help them bring ideas from conception to journalism that can be used on BBC platforms
  • Foster and develop a network of trained data journalists
  • Encourage best practice in working with and reporting on data, and increase the capability of data journalism at a local level.
  • Make packaged content for BBC English Regions audiences
  • We will be open and transparent with our methodologies, and encourage a conversation between our network of reporters.

Our stories

UK house-building 'below pre-crash levels'

In August 2018 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported house-building across half of England was slower than it had been before the financial crash.

Millions miss out on seven-day GP access

In July 2018 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported there were more than five million people across England who were unable to book an appointment with a GP outside of working hours, when all patients were due to have full extended access by 1 October 2018.

Premier League and EFL football matches 'over-policed'

In July 2018 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported some of the most heavily policed football matches in the UK had one officer present for every 50 fans, prompting calls for a review.

Poverty link to early death 'scandalous'

In July 2018 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported people living in the poorest parts of the UK were more likely to die prematurely.

UK prisons 'awash' with smuggled phones and SIM cards

In May 2018 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported one smuggled mobile phone or SIM card had been seized for every six inmates in English and Welsh jails in 2017.

Thousands of miles of UK roads in poor condition

In March 2018 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported some 10% of the road network maintained by local authorities in Great Britain is in poor condition, or had been flagged for further inspection.

Britain's bus coverage hits 28-year low

In February 2018, the Shared Data Unit revealed Britain's bus network had shrunk to levels last seen in the late 1980s.

Neighbourhood police: One in seven officers axed were beat bobbies

In February 2018, the Shared Data Unit reported out of around 11,000 police officers lost from 2012-17 across forces in England and Wales, 1,500 worked in neighbourhoods - around one in seven.

Cost legacy of decades-old NHS blunders begins to rise

In January 2018 the Shared Data Unit reported the compensation bill for NHS mistakes that took place before 1995 - mainly maternity failings - had begun to rise for the first time in five years.

Empty homes spike in London commuter belt

In November 2017 the BBC Shared Data Unit reported London's commuter belt had seen a spike in the number of homes left long-term empty despite a downward trend across the UK since 2010.

Share of European Union staff leaving NHS rises following Brexit

In October 2017 the Shared Data Hub reported that the proportion of EU nationals leaving jobs in the NHS is rising, while the share of those joining is shrinking.

Teacher vacancy rate double in poor areas

In September 2017 the BBC England Shared Data Unit published a story showing that teacher vacancy rates are at their highest in primary schools in the most deprived parts of England. This was the first story to come out of the data arm of the BBC Local News partnership and was picked up by a range of partners and other news outlets.

Repositories for all our stories can be found tagged 'shareddataunit'.