Welcome to the Geodemographics Knowledge Base, a comprehensive directory of hand-selected websites for people interested in the application of geodemographics, geo-spatial analysis and Big Data. The site has been produced by the Census and Geodemographics Group of MRS, the world's largest association representing providers and users of market, social, and opinion research, and business intelligence.

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What's New?

ADAN Innovation Symposium – Focus on Conjoint Analysis

ADAN - the Advanced Analytics Network - aims to help identify, develop and disseminate research industry best practice in the general area of advanced analytics. 

On Thursday 10th November 2016 ADAN will be holding its third symposium, (a 2 hour evening mini-conference to be held in London), which will build on the success of the previous two events.


Scotland's Census 2021 – Topic Consultation Report

The Registrar General for Scotland has published Scotland's Census 2021 – Topic Consultation Report on 15 August 2016 and it is available from the Scotland's Census website. The success of the 2021 census relies on a comprehensive understanding of user needs and concerns, as well as the support and participation of the general public. 

UK Data Service upcoming events

The UK Data Service is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to meet the data needs of researchers, students and teachers from all sectors, including academia, central and local government, charities and foundations, independent research centres, think tanks, and business consultants and the commercial sector. They produced a series of upcoming events and webinars including: 


UK Statistics Authority report on Population estimates and projections

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 . The Act gives the Statistics Authority power to re-assess whether the Code of Practice for Official Statistics continues to be complied with in relation to official statistics already designated as National Statistics. The report covers the following population estimates and projections (population) statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the UK and its constituent countries


 UK Statistics Authority Standard for quality assuring administrative data  

The UK Statistics Authority’s Regulatory have developed a standard for the quality assurance of administrative data that is used to produce official statistics. This helps to raise standards in this area.


UK Statistics Authority Code of Practice for Official Statistics

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics  promotes the production and dissemination of official statistics that inform decision making, and supports the continuous improvement of those statistics. It is a concise and specific statement that requires sound judgement and interpretation.


Licensing the use of the Postcode Address File for Market Research

The Royal Mail has recently issued new guidelines on licensing the use of the Postcode Address file (PAF) for market research. Under these guidelines, multiple users within an end-user of PAF for market research purposes will be considered as only one User, and will only be charged for a single user licence. For full details, see:



DataShine COWZ-EW

DataShine COWZ-EW created by Chris Gale and Oliver O’Brien allows users to explore COWZ-EW data visuallly on a map.


COWZ-EW: a Classification of Workplace Zones for England and Wales

COWZ-EW is a geodemographic classification of Workplace Zones (WZs) for England and Wales. It is based on the characteristics of workers and their workplaces, as recorded in the 2011 Census. COWZ-EW is an interim product for England and Wales, produced by the University of Southampton in collaboration with ONS. It was released in response to strong user interest whilst a full UK-wide classification is being finalised. The dataset is made available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Users may re-use this information free of charge, in any format or medium under the terms of the licence.

See the COWZ-EW userguide here: http://cowz.geodata.soton.ac.uk/download/


New MOD Online tool to create maps

The Ministry of Defence (MOD)  have created an online tool to create maps. They have a collection of existing templates saved, but the public can also import maps as well.

The  MOD are collecting the information about where these maps go so that once they are published they can release them as open date files


ADRN Research Conference, 3 June 2016

Access to administrative data for research is a positive public good. The de-identification and linking of these records, collected in the course of business by governmental and other bodies, creates a whole new potential for social and economic research and policy evaluation, which up until recently has remained largely unexplored.

The Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) is a UK-wide initiative, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in 2013, to facilitate access to linked de-identified administrative data for social and economic research aimed at benefiting society. The results from the Network's earliest projects will be presented.


2011 Census: Key and Quick Statistics tables for the United Kingdom now available from Nomis

The Key and Quick Statistics tables for the United Kingdom bring together data from the 2011 Censuses conducted in England and Wales, in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland, to provide UK harmonised data for areas throughout the United Kingdom. These UK tables were released by ONS in 2014 as downloadable files, and have now been added to the wide range of Census data available through nomis


New ONS website launched

The Office for National Statistics is the UK's largest independent producer of official statistics, covering the UK's economy, society and population, including the UK Census. It is the recognised UK National Statistical Institute.

The new complete redesigned ONS website has been launched, following extensive feedback from the July 2015 Beta version. The search and navigation tools have been significantly improved, as has the overall performance and general appearance. Nearly 150,000 redirects enable users to find existing content and much of the older content that has been moved to the National Archives

ONS is retaining a full time team to regularly maintain and enhance the website. More about development of the new website is available in the Digital Publishing Blog.


The World of Location Intelligence Tomorrow

This article by Steve Benner, exlores the key forces shaping the future world of location intelligence


iBeacons Location Based Marketing

Brands are using IBeacons to send strategically timed messages to customers while they are within a specific venue and prompting them to take a certain action.


Large-scale location-based mobile marketing

O2 signed deals with Starbucks and L’Oréal to be the first brands to undertake a six-month trial of its large-scale location-based mobile marketing platform in the UK.


Location Intelligence in Public Sector

Location intelligence is helping local governments make timely and accurate decisions and drive digital engagement.


Location-based advertising

Location-based advertising hinges around the fact that wherever people go these days they always carry a mobile with them. And most quite happily share out location data with the various apps they use.
This presents an opportunity for advertisers to personalise their messages to people based on their current location. In real time


Geodemographics for Marketers: Using location analysis for research and marketing

Geodemographics for Marketers provides readers with the know-how to leverage geodemographics as an effective research tool to identify locatable segments for highly targeted marketing. International in scope and impartial in its approach, the book demonstrates how to implement geodemographic techniques for practical application in a wide range of sectors, including retail, financial services and market research.


Can Big Data replace the Census? What does Big Data give us now? - 2016 MRS CGG Seminar

There has been much talk about dropping the traditional population census and obtaining equivalent estimates from big data and administrative databases. To what extent is this achievable? How much is just hype?

Th2016 CGG seminar will explore big data sources that are available now, or coming imminently, and what they can provide for geodemographics users. The main focus will be on spatially referenced data that can be applied down to small area level.


Global Trends Survey 2014: Navigating the new

The largest study of its kind, looking at the attitudes and behaviours of consumers and citizens in 20 key countries around the world. Ipsos Mori reveals the complex, and sometimes contradictory, findings covering everything from marriage to migration, from ambition to advertising and from society to social media.


Understanding Society: The power and perils of data

The Power and Perils of Data focuses on the potential for data to improve the way people live their lives, as well as exploring public views on some of the risks this greater reliance on data brings.


Dialogue on Data : Exploring the public’s views on using administrative data for research purposes

This report describes the findings from a public dialogue on administrative data commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The overall objectives were to explore public understanding and views of administrative data and data linking.


New research finds data trust deficit with lessons for policymakers

Research for the Royal Statistical Society carried out by Ipsos MORI reveals that the media, internet companies, telecommunications companies and insurance companies all come at the bottom of a “trust in data” league table. Only between four and seven per cent say they have a high level of trust in these organisations to use data appropriately, compared with 36% trusting the NHS, and 41% trusting their GP.


The UK’s 11 most infamous data breaches 2015

Globally, the UK currently ranks a distant second behind the US for data breaches. Software vulnerabilities, lost hard drives and CDs, malicious insiders, poor security - the UK's most important data breaches reveal just how many ways data can be put at risk.


Can Big Data replace the Census? What does Big Data give us now?

The CGG run regular seminars on the latest developments and uses of Census, geodemographic and lifestyle data, and data integration in market research and related fields. The next event will be on 7 March.


Scotland’s Census Website

Please see the official website of National Records Scotland. This organisation is planning the 2021 Census in Scotland. 


Scotland’s Census 2021 – Topic Consultation

National Records of Scotland (NRS) on behalf of the Registrar General for
Scotland, is responsible for conducting a census in Scotland. Planning has begun for Scotland's Census 2021 and will build on the success of the Census in 2011. It will be designed and managed in Scotland, to best meet the needs of its users.

As part of this, National Records Scotland, are now asking their users for their views on the topics to be included on the 2021 Census questionnaire.

Please see below to share your views:


Please see below to view news and events about the Census:


Econmic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The ESRC is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. They support independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector.



Local Authority District (LAD) Data Store

The LAD Data store is a catalogue of data holdings. You may search a datastore for each local authority district in the UK and the directory provides categories of data sets in terms of Local Authority District.


Finding errors in Big Data

Weeding out mistakes hidden among billions of data points seems an impossible task. Marco Puts, Piet Daas and Ton de Waal put forward some solutions.


‘Information Collected by Commercial Companies: What Might Be of Value to ONS?’

Keith Dugmore explores alternative more cost-effective options for ‘census taking’ in the future. In this paper, they consider what the options may be, based on approaches and experiences from other countries, and assess their implications for users.


On the Value of Digital Traces for Commercial Strategy and Public Policy: Telecommunications Data as a Case Study

This paper by Rob Claxton, jon Reades, and Ben Anderson discusses the study of UK regions, comparing the "geographies of talk” to their administrative counterparts, before turning to the ways in which social networks reflect underlying problems of deprivation and of access to opportunity. 


Official statistics and Big Data

The rise of Big Data changes the context in which organisations producing official statistics operate. Big Data provides opportunities, but in order to make optimal use of Big Data, a number of challenges have to be addressed. This stimulates increased collaboration between National Statistical Institutes, Big Data holders, businesses and universities. In time, this may lead to a shift in the role of statistical institutes in the provision of high-quality and impartial statistical information to society. In this paper, the changes in context, the opportunities, the challenges and the way to collaborate are addressed.In this paper by Peter Struijs, Barteld Braaksma, Piet JH Daas, the changes in context, the opportunities, the challenges and the way to collaborate are addressed. The collaboration between the various stakeholders will involve each partner building on and contributing different strengths.


The Role of Digital Trace Data in Supporting the Collection of Population Statistics – the Case for Smart Metered Electricity Consumption Data

The paper explores this potential through preliminary analysis of a ‘smart meter-like’ dataset, and when set alongside the limited literature to date, the results suggest that aggregated household load profiles may reveal key household and householder characteristics of interest to census users and national statistical organisations.Much of the attention has been focused on the (re)use of governmental administrative datasets but, we argue that data held by commercial organisations may offer considerable additional value as a supplement to familiar census or survey and administrative data."


The ONS Big Data Project

ONS, the UK's largest producer of official statistics, is interested in understanding the impact that big data may have on their statistical processes and outputs. They have established a project to investigate the potential advantages of using big data, to understand the challenges with using these data sources and to establish a longer term strategy for big data within official statistics.


Census 2022: Transforming Small Area Socio-Economic Indicators through 'Big Data'

The project will address these questions using existing large-scale geo-coded transactional datasets, including household level energy monitoring data, held at the University of Southampton.


Using Energy Metering Data to Support Official Statistics: A Feasibility Study

The ONS report discussion therefore concentrate on temporal patterns of power demand that may be able to more robustly distinguish between household types due to the potentially different timings and intensities of their everyday habits and routines.


Transformative Research Call

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is delighted to announce the 20 successful grants of the first Transformative Research Call, a pilot for 2012/2013.

The call aims to provide a stimulus for genuinely transformative and groundbreaking research ideas at the frontiers of social sciences.


OpenPopGrid - an Open Gridded Population Dataset for England and Wales

The goal of OpenPopGrid is to provide an OpenData dataset to improve the spatial representation of the published ONS population dataset. OpenPopGrid achieves this using a dasymetric mapping approach - using additional data to restrict the redistribution of the population to specific areas, i.e. residential buildings.


Geodemographics for Marketers: using location analysis for research and marketing

Geodemographics for Marketers is being published by Kogan Page early in 2016.The book has been written to provide marketing professionals and students with the know-how to leverage geodemographics techniques, and demonstrates their many applications and benefits. The author is Barry Leventhal, and the book includes articles and case studies contributed by a wide range of experts.


2021 Census Consultations

The investment of time and resources in a national census, or similar system of data collection, can only be justified if the results are accessible to users and meet their needs. This involves wide consultation in accordance with the principles and practices set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. This is the home page for consultations on the 2021 Census.


Planning the 2021 Census event - 22 July 2-5pm, Royal Statistical Society

Are you a user of Census data? Or do you think Census data could be useful to you?

On 22 July 2-5pm, the Royal Statistical Society is hosting an event 'Planning the 2021 Census: Recent Developments', at which ONS representatives and Chris Skinner (LSE) will talk about the work so far on the next Census. It will include talks on the current topic consultation and the use of administrative data.

The event provides the opportunity to be involved in the planning early on, and consider what you need from the next Census outputs.

You can see the agenda here: http://www.statslife.org.uk/events/eventdetail/475/-/planning-the-2021-census-recent-developments

If you'd like to attend, email events@rss.org.uk to book your place.


The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales

This paper provides the initial view of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the content of the 2021 Census questionnaire for England and Wales. It forms the starting point of consultation on the topics and sub-topics to be included. The initial view is informed by evaluation of the success of the 2011 topics and questions, as well as evidence about user requirements from recent consultations for Beyond 2011. It is also informed by ONS's current understanding of affordability and by its aspirations for using administrative data.


UK Statistics Authority - Monitoring Reports

The UK Statistics Authority has a statutory function under section 8 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 to monitor the production and publication of official statistics. The Authority will publish reports under this section of the Act and will issue these as "Authority Monitoring Reports". They will be produced with the involvement of external experts and user interests, and will reflect the independent views of the Authority.


Open data: What can we expect from the conservatives?

Andy Dickinson, teaches Digital and Online Journalism at the Divison of Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and is part of the Media Innovation Studio team. He wrote a blog summarising his thoughts on what the general election results will mean for us in terms of OpenData.


Census Applications: Using the UK’s population census data

Now that nearly all census outputs are out and being used, the UK Data Service are hosting a two day conference to celebrate the UK censuses. This conference is scheduled for the 16th - 17th of July 2015, and will be held at the Humanities Bridgeford Street Building, University of Manchester.

The conference will include three plenary sessions:

· The value of the Census
· Making use of the Census
· Challenges for the future

Speakers include:

· Danny Dorling and Bethan Thomas
· Ian Cope
· Keith Dugmore
· Office for National Statistics Census Office


The 2014 Population and Housing Census of Myanmar - Findings of the Census Observation Mission: An Overview

After three decades without a Population and Housing Census, a census enumeration was conducted in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from 30 March to 10 April 2014. To support transparency of the census and to better understand the way data was collected, the Ministry of Immigration and Population invited an independent Census Observation Mission to observe the census. The Mission was made up of 47 experienced observers; 23 international and 24 Myanmar nationals. These experts were statisticians, census experts, demographers or social scientists. This document is a summary of the findings of the Observation Mission. Additional information, not from the Observation Mission, has been included to provide readers with a clearer understanding of information that may need further explanation.


United Nations Economic and Social Council: Statistical Commission 46th Session - Report

The report provides a brief overview of the implementation of the 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme, including information on national participation in the 2010 census round, successes and challenges and a summary of activities carried out by the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in support of the 2010 World Programme. The report also describes the preparatory activities for the 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme. The Statistical Commission is invited to express its views regarding the information provided in the report. In particular, the Commission is invited to approve the draft resolution on the 2020 World Programme, review and endorse the draft Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses: the 2020 Round, Revision 3, and provide guidance on the proposed activities of the Division for the 2020 World Programme.


United Nations 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme

The website of the 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme facilitates the international exchange and sharing of knowledge and information on census taking, as well as provision of guidance to countries, and monitoring progress on the implementation of the Programme. The website presents practical information and guidelines on census methodology and on best practices to help countries plan and carry out a census, as well as an up-to-date account of national census taking activities and of provision of support to countries in the implementation of the census round. The website also provides information on national, regional and international activities related to the 2010 World Programme. A major component of the website is the census knowledge base that is a repository of documents on census methodology, including reports on what has been done by countries during their censuses.


Open Geodemographics

A ‘portal' featuring geodemographic products created with open methods, data and tools by researchers from the University of Liverpool and University College London. The products and the underlying data are free to download and use, including commercial applications. The researchers add that methods are transparent and reproducible, with products supported by an active user community, and available to modify and augment. The website currently features the UK Output Area Classification (OAC) built in partnership with the ONS and created entirely from the 2011 census data, the bespoke London Output Area Classification (LOAC), and the Temporal Output Area Classification (TOAC) exploring geodemographic change between 2001 and 2011. A linked website has interactive and searchable maps of each classification down to very local levels.

BBC Radio 4 - The Life Scientific – Nigel Shadbolt

Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Southampton University, believes in the power of open data. With Sir Tim Berners-Lee he persuaded two UK Prime Ministers of the importance of letting us all get our hands on information that's been collected about us by the government and other organisations. But, this has brought him into conflict with people who think there's money to be made from this data. And open data raises issues of privacy. Nigel Shadbolt talks to Jim al-Khalili about how a degree in psychology and philosophy led to a career researching artificial intelligence and a passion for open


Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu

Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu, Estonia focuses on various research topics such as activity spaces, travel behaviour, tourism, segregation, ICT use and environmental impacts for pursuing a deeper understanding of spatial mobility. In order to gain the best possible understanding of spatial mobility the research group applies both quantitative and qualitative data. One of its main interests lies with the novel methodology based on mobile telephone use, and active and passive mobile positioning data. The latter enables researchers to give a more comprehensive insight into individuals’ activity spaces and spatiotemporal regularities than most of the traditional data sources.


Consultation on the Approved Researcher scheme

ONS are reviewing the criteria and process used to grant Approved Researcher status, and the safeguards used to ensure the confidentiality of all personal data held by ONS, and are proposing a number of possible changes, which would address issues already identified. This is being carried out through a public consultation.


Administrative Data Research Centre - England

The Administrative Data Research Centre for England is led by the University of Southampton, and run in collaboration with: University College London; the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; the Institute for Fiscal Studies; the University of London’s Institute of Education. The Centre combines exceptional physical facilities with high performance computer platforms to provide knowledge and evidence to help develop, implement and evaluate public policy and future research.--


NTTS 2015

New Techniques and Technologies for Statistics (NTTS) is an international biennial scientific conference series, organised by Eurostat, on new techniques and methods for official statistics, and the impact of new technologies on statistical collection, production and dissemination systems. The purpose of the conference is both to allow the presentation of results from currently ongoing research and innovation projects in official statistics, and to stimulate and facilitate the preparation of new innovative projects (by encouraging the exchange of views and co-operation between researchers - including the possible building of research consortia) with the aim of enhancing the quality and usefulness of official statistics and to prepare activities related to research in statistics within the European Framework Programme for Research and Development (Horizon 2020).


Public confidence in official statistics

NatCen Social Research has today published the results of a survey of public confidence in official statistics, commissioned by the UK Statistics Authority. 


Census Evaluation Workshop

On 8th January 2015, the ONS held an Outputs Evaluation workshop to collect feedback from users on the 2011 Census.

MRS CGG Chairman, Barry Leventhal, with input from members of the Association of Census Distributors and the Demographics User Group, presented the business sector's views on outputs from the 2011 Census. here.


Research Strategy published for the Beyond 2011 Programme

This January 2015 paper sets out the research strategy and questions for the design and prototyping phase of the Beyond 2011 programme in 2015 and 2016, a high-level testing strategy for this period, and the main testing phase of the programme in 2017.


Beyond 2011: Final Options Report

This paper from ONS details the recommendations for the 2021 census:

• An online census of all households and communal establishments in England and Wales in 2021 as a modern successor to the traditional, paper-based decennial census. ONS recognises that special care would need to be taken to support those who are unable to complete the census online.

• Increased use of administrative data and surveys in order to enhance the statistics from the 2021 Census and improve annual statistics between censuses