GIST (Government Interrogating Spending Tool) is - or rather was, until the government took it down recently after 3 years in beta - the UK government’s attempt to provide an “accessible breakdown of government expenditure for use by the public”. The site fell very short of its billing as an ‘interrogation tool’, because its hierarchical structure made it hard to actually do any interrogating, as pointed out by one of the government’s own civil servants, here. We created TIGS to show how the rainbow can make the interrogation of complex data quick and easy. When it was up, the GIST site looked like this:
We took the site’s colours, and its data (which the government generously make available here) and ‘rainbow-ised’ it. Now, it’s easy to make comparisons of any part of the data with any other part, you can zoom levels from Department to item, you can see trends - loads of things are possible that weren’t with the government’s site. Our app (for Windows) looks like this:
This example shows two government departments being compared with each other across different quarters - something not possible with the government’s GIST site. It shows something unusual; normally Work and Pensions is the highest spending department but we can see an enormous expense against Energy and Climate Change for quarter 4 of year 2015-2016. The rainbow makes it very easy first to pick up the anomaly and then to drill down into that expense to see what it’s made up of:
The government want data transparency - our rainbow achieves it.
The Rainbow Interface is protected by UK patent 2394874 and by US patent 7334185
The government’s GIST website was driven by its OSCAR data (Online System for Central Accounting and Reporting). This takes the form of Excel spreadsheets - a separate one for each quarter, and each one contains around 20,000 rows. To get the above information from these would be a long and difficult exercise needing specialist Excel skills such as pivot tables. GISTRainbow makes it very easy with just a few clicks, and the data is shown very simply and clearly - like a bar chart you can play with.