Make Super Output Area Lookup Tables and Boundaries Available for Everyone Online - Not CD

The data for Super Output Areas and their relation to other boundaries such as parishes and constuencies needs to be made easily available online for direct download, not just delivered on CD. Nowadays information is often required quickly and 'on the move' and ONS with their resources would be well placed to provide this information as an 'on-demand' service.

If ONS didn't want to make the whole dataset available for bandwidth reasons (though I think the ONS/Government should be able to handle this) you could have a system where data for a maximum area size is provided (using lat/long coordinates). There could even be a small charge (no more than £10-20) to get the whole dataset.

The lookup tables are available in their entirety via UKBORDERS but it seems the people who can access this is severely restricted. I don't really see why that data shouldn't be available to everyone - there's no identifiable address info, just postcodes.

Thank you, Andrew Ward

Submitter name: 
Andrew Ward

Comments

This is information that

This is information that never changes, well, maybe once every 10 years. Therefore why would a cd supply not be sufficient? Why build an api for data that doesn't change and isn't particularly large?? If you are building a web app, surely it is easier for you to have the cd, as you don't then need to externally link, hence more security of supply and less downtime.

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Ordnance Survey licensing restrictions

I'm sure ONS have the resources to provide the SOA boundary data as a download. I think the barrier is probably the Ordnance Survey licence restrictions that apply to the data.

The SOA boundaries are not "open data". When ONS provide the boundary data it is subject to OS conditions that do not permit use for commercial purposes or onward distribution of the data.

It's therefore likely that ONS are obliged to keep records of requests for the CDs, and are not allowed to put the boundary data on their website for download.

In my view the simplest solution would be to collect and publish all of the administrative boundaries for Great Britain as open data via the Ordnance Survey website. The larger geographies (counties, districts, constituencies, etc.) are already available as open data in the OS's Boundary-Line product:

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/products/boundary-line/index.html

According to the ONS some changes will be made to the SOA boundaries using the 2011 census data, and amended boundaries will be available in 2013:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/geography/beginner-s-guide/census/super-output-areas--soas-/index.html

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MaPit

I came across a great little service from the people at MySociety, they have an app called MaPit, which they use internally for their mapping applications, but have opened up for public use (some limits and/or license restrictions apply, but they're flexible). Using their API you have access to all the SOA information and a fair bit more. You can also download the datasets direct from http://parlvid.mysociety.org:81/os/

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ONS Open Geography Portal

The ONS launched an Open Geography Portal in May 2013 (https://geoportal.statistics.gov.uk/geoportal/catalog/main/home.page). It includes LSOA and MSOA boundaries. Try the 'Download Boundaries' section, or Browse > Digital Boundaries then Details and scroll down to the download links.

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