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Flow data

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Origin-destination data (also known as flow data) will include the travel-to-work and migration patterns of individuals, cross-tabulated by variables of interest (for example occupation). New products for the 2011 Census will also provide the migration patterns of those living at a student  address one year ago and provide information on individuals with second residences.

A large amount of the origin-destination data will be at UK level, providing flows for usual residents of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Any statistics that cannot easily be harmonised across the UK due to differences in the data collected will be provided for usual residents of England and Wales only. These statistics will still provide geographical detail of any flows between the other countries of the UK.

The travel-to-work data for England and Wales will use the new workplace zone geography to show flows between output areas of usual residence to workplace zones.

Disclosure control

All population estimates, including small estimates, will be permitted in principle. However, ONS has an obligation to protect the attributes of identified individuals and may revise table designs if they are deemed disclosive on completion.

The UK Statistical Disclosure Control policy states that the protection of the most detailed origin-destination tables will come from the licensing/access conditions. This is a change from the 2001 Census, where the protection for similar outputs came from the post-tabular small cell adjustment which still allowed wide and easy access, but also adversely affected the utility of the outputs.

For more information on the statistical disclosure control policy for origin-destination tables, please read section 8 of the Statistical disclosure control for 2011 Census.

Publication and access conditions

Release dates for the origin-destination data will be published on this page when available.

There will be a small number of tables that are available publicly, however, the majority will only be available as secure files under certain access conditions.

The more detailed tables and those at lower levels of geography will only be available as secure data within ONS’s secure environment, the Virtual Microdata Laboratory (VML).

The VML is only available for research purposes conducted by an Approved Researcher. Read about how to be accepted as an Approved Researcher.

ONS cannot yet accept requests for access to origin-destination data. We will provide more information on how to do this closer to the time of release.

For those who do not wish or need to visit the VML but still have an interest in the origin-destination data, some of the less detailed tables will be treated as safeguarded files and consideration is being given to how these can be made available to researchers to hold outside of ONS under strict terms and conditions.

The origin-destination products will be published in phases. Table specifications are now available; see Flow data table layouts. These specifications provide confirmation of the geographies that will apply to each table, as well as a provisional indication of whether each table will be public, safeguarded or secure. However, this is only a provisional indication and each dataset will have to be assessed for disclosure before a final decision on the access channel is made. It is possible that some of the tables indicated as being secure may be able to be made available via the safeguarded channel. 

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