Open data empowers people to analyse data about the world around them. Without it, we’re forced to accept other people’s analysis’s of what’s going on. These other people could be biased or otherwise mistaken. Even if they’re not, specific data that is important to us may be hidden behind overly broad averages.
In issue 7 of Linux Voice, we used open data to answer a simple question: are house prices in the UK rising? The question, it seems, depends very much on what sort of house you’re talking about, and where in the UK it is. The results of this analysis are all in the graphs below. you can select a region to show how prices have changed over the past 20 years.
Of course, you have no way of knowing what our agenda is, so should you trust us? Why not grab the data for yourself. You can download an X-zipped SQL file of the database via bit torrent here or as a direct download here (to use this file you’ll need to be able to use an SQL database), or get the raw CSV files for spreadsheets from data.gov.uk. To learn to handle these files in Python, grab a copy of Linux Voice issue 7 when it goes on sale at newsagents in the UK on 28th August 2014.
We haven’t manipulated the data, so where counties have changed, the data will suddenly drop or start mid-way through the graph.
Select Region then press Get Data
90% of all houses sold in the region were cheaper than the 90% line, 70% were cheaper than the 70% line, etc. Dashed lines show the same but for the UK as a whole. This graph should tell you whether prices have been changing uniformly across the housing market, or if changes are disproportionately impacting the upper or lower end.
The prices for different types of house in the region compared to the UK average.
The total number of new and old houses sold in the region.
About The Author
Ben Everard is the co-author of Learning Python with the Raspberry Pi and hacks hardware projects held together with a big dollop of Linux and Free Software glue. He's @ben_everard on Twitter.