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The best free tools for data viz and data for good

26 July 2021 | 4 min read

As part of my job as a Data Analytics Lead I am helping my company to upskill around all things data. So a few months ago, I started sharing #ThursdayTools with my team each week and I thought these might be useful for others too. So here is a list of open source, non-code toools that I use for data viz, data for good, charity data, maps, infographics and more.

1.     Find That Postcode

Mapping geographic data often means working with postcodes. Luckily David Kane has built Find That Postcode, a tool that lets you upload a list of postcodes and select what geo data to match, including longitude/latitue, Local Authority, MSOA, and much more. It’s such a timesaver and super easy to use.

2.     Community Lens

Community Lens was developed by the Data Collective – a community for people using data in the social sector. It is another great tool to explore local needs. Upload a list of postcodes, e.g. from beneficiaries, and get an output map with your pins as well as heatmaps based on measures of deprivation you select.

3.     Covid Vulnerability Index

The British Red Cross Covid Vulnerability Index is a fantastic resource to explore local needs. It was created similar to the Index of Multiple Deprivation but includes different dimensions (clinical, health, economic, social, socio-economic). You can download data on Ward, MSOA and Local Authority level or use the interactive map.

4.     Centre for Cities data tool

If you are interested in socio-economic data on cities in the UK, the Centre for Cities has built an interactive tool that lets you select from a range of indicators (eg business, population, housing, employment) for 63 cities. You can look at a point in time or a time series. Download data or as image.

5.     Parli-N-Grams

Parli-N-Grams built by Guiseppe Puntofisso displays the frequency of words in UK parliament debates. You can search for words or phrases in the House of Commons or House of Lords and get a timeseries starting at 1919. Also lets you compare different terms against each other. Super interesting to look at trends over time.

6.     360 Giving

360 Giving is a charity setup to help grant makers in the UK publish their data in a standardised way and make it accessible to everyone. You can use grantnav or 360Insights to explore and download grantmaking data from over 197 funders.

7.     Find That Charity

If you are interested in data on charities in the UK, head to Find That Charity built by David Kane. You can search for charities by using their name or charity number, upload a list of charity numbers and match data against it, get links to other official registers, etc.

8.     CharityBase

Another great tool to explore charities in England and Wales is CharityBase created by Dan Kwiatkowski. You can search for charities or directly access the API. Much more user friendly than the Charity Commission register itself.

9.     Data

DataBasic is a suite of easy-to-use web tools that introduce concepts of working with data. The tools let you upload data and explore data in a fun and interesting way. You can use it to count words in a text, find out what’s going on in your csv file, compare differences between two texts or run a network analysis.

10.     Plot Parade

Turning your data into a stunning data visualisation doesn’t have to be time consuming. Krisztina Szűcs has developed Plot Parade – an amazing data art project providing a number of layouts ready to use, just pop your numbers in and export as an image.

11.     Map in Seconds

If you got geographic data to map and need something quick and easy, Dark Horse Analytics have have built Map in Seconds which is literally that. Select a region and copy/paste your data, map done. Export map as pptx or png file. Unfortunately, because it is so easy to use, the number of regions are fairly limited/high level.

Obviously, there are many other amazing data tools out there. Let me know what I’ve missed and I can add them to my list. Thanks to everyone who is building these tools for the community!