Rick Seymour

Council spending data with Google Refine

Google Refine is a desktop database/spreadsheet application that allows filtering and merging of large datasets.

Using this application with local council spending information reduces inconstancies and allows more accurate filtering and assessment of data.

For example, Lancaster City Council began releasing its £500 spending data in November 2010 and to date there are 2783 entries.

Prior to refining with Google Refine there were:-

  • 225 “types” of spend
  • 790 organisations

After refining

  • 220 “types” of spend
  • 777 organisations

You may think “so what?”

Let me give you an example of how these inconsistencies impact on the totals of type of spend.

Postage 6773
Postages 87596

So the inconstancies surrounding that simple “s”, means that the total is £6773 less than it should be when compiling reports.

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