There’s a staggering amount of open data available out there, but finding it and making use of it is still a complicated business. People just aren’t aware it exists.

The Open Health Data Platform is a site which promotes the use of new technologies to dive into online ‘big’ datasets – to make discoveries, guide innovation and inform research relating to health.

To give an example of the kind of insights possible, after using statistical techniques to visualise in which areas GPs were prescribing expensive brand-name statin drugs, it was easy to come up with a strategy of change which could save the NHS £200 million pounds a year. Pretty amazing really.

We’ve got large brains, but for this project we worked with some truly giant ones at big data startup Mastodon C – who can do amazing things with terrabytes of data. As well as building the site, Error’s role was to demonstrate how to visualise this data beautifully – we created a series of ‘How-tos’ which explain how to go about this technically, how to make sure your data conveys its meaning clearly, and how to make it look super-fine.

We created examples using HTML, CSS, a JavaScript data visualisation library called D3.js and Leaflet.js, a Javascript library for creating interactive maps. All this code is open-source too, available on Github.