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ONS opens up geographic data behind UK statistics

Released: 24 May 2013 Download PDF

ONS opens up geographic data behind UK statistics

A new online portal that gives people open access to the wealth of geographic information behind official statistics has been launched by ONS.

The Open Geography portal unlocks a world of digital geographic data, from postcodes and boundaries to area codes, mapping, and aerial imagery.

Customers can use the data to produce and present statistics that are geographically accurate, consistent and comparable. For instance, the portal can help users create statistical maps for their regions or neighbourhoods.

Developed by the Office for National Statistics in partnership with Landmark Solutions, the portal uses open source software. Datasets are provided free of charge, mostly under Open Government Licence terms and conditions

Glen Watson, Director General of ONS, said: ‘The portal provides an important and innovative solution to opening up access to ONS geographical data - boundaries, maps and locations. We wanted to make it easier for people to incorporate ONS standard geographical products into their own systems and analyses. The portal looks great if, like me, you're interested in the mapping and boundaries behind our neighbourhood level statistics".

Chris Brackley, Managing Director of Landmark Solutions, said: “This new cutting edge service not only provides geographic data to ONS stakeholders and the public, but also allows ONS to manage their entire spatial library distribution using cloud web services.  Landmark is delighted to have had the opportunity to partner with ONS on this project and is proud of our joint achievements to date.”

The portal allows ONS to comply with the EU's INSPIRE Directive that harmonises how geographic datasets are supplied across Europe. The tool also meets government aims for delivering "digital by default" services, and for delivering "5 star" data, directly and through APIs*. It also helps ONS reduce the cost of managing and disseminating geographic data.

The portal complements other ONS initiatives which unlock valuable information for users. Maps and graphs at help make statistics memorable and help people understand ONS outputs.

Notes to Editors

INSPIRE is an EU initiative to establish an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe that will help to make spatial or geographical information more accessible and interoperable for a wide range of purposes supporting sustainable development.

ONS is the UK’s National Statistical Institute and the largest producer of official statistics in the UK. ONS statistics are crucial for effective decision making in government, industry, academia or by private individuals.

High quality geographic information is essential for the collection, referencing, analysis and presentation of statistics that are geographically accurate, consistent and comparable

* An Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of programming instructions that allows other software developers to build their own services using a standard set of data or processes. Building a system that uses an Open Geography API ensures it always uses the definitive geographic referencing framework.


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Background notes

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