King’s Cross Community Projects on how to get Census data for your area

We wanted to start putting Census data together for our area, a half mile radius from the perimeter of King’s Cross Station. This is how I did it.

NOMIS Office for National Statistics database

The NOMIS online database at https://www.nomisweb.co.uk

The Office for National Statistics makes a range of data freely available to the public on its NOMIS online database.

It stores a range of datasets including the Census, claimant counts and information about businesses.

NOMIS Office for National Statistics datasets

NOMIS datasets

The datasets are broken down by a mind boggling array of area types including local authorities, constituencies, wards and the smallest ‘super output areas’ (SOAs). I needed the smallest possible SOA which is the Lower SOA (there’s a larger Middle SOA).

Lower super output areas (LSOAs) can change as they are defined by population and household size, so they have to change as populations rise and fall. The minimum population of an LSOA is 1,000 and maximum is 3,000 (or by household it’s no less than 400 and no more than 1,200). LSOAs are known by codes, for example the LSOA I live in is Islington 021B. To get data out of NOMIS for a list of LSOAs means identifying the LSOAs, it was this that took most time. I found the Office for National Statistics Geography site a bit daunting so decided to go it alone. Others may find ONS Geography easier to use than I did.

If you don’t know the LSOAs you need for your data, a good place to start is the Mapit website. Here you enter a postcode and it will give you a host of information including ward, London, Parliamentary and European constituencies and mid and lower SOA code. Once you have one LSOA code you can start building your own list of LSOAs to search NOMIS on. I used a single LSOA code to start and built the whole list from there using NOMIS’ handy little mapping icons. I went one step further and produced a map of our whole area, taking each individual LSOA map and knitting them together:

King's Cross lower super output areas

Our area comprises 29 LSOAs. If you do put your own list together a handy tip is to save your list on NOMIS so that you don’t have to keep typing it in for each bit of data you want to download. To do this, register on the NOMIS site, start an Advanced Query and type in your LSOAs then click to save the list. You can now download data for your list with one easy click.

NOMIS lets you choose how you want data downloaded, I used the Excel spreadsheet. Each data query is layed out very clearly. I just tweaked each spreadsheet I downloaded to explain the area selection, give totals and so on. For example, here’s the population density data downloaded for Excel and tweaked a bit:

Population-density

So what have I found so far? Some handy headlines for King’s Cross from the 2011 Census:

Population 48,352

The area covered by the LSOAs is 379 hectares
(slightly larger than our catchment as I’ve included all LSOAs that fall entirely or partially within a half mile of the station)

That’s 128 people per hectare
(population density will increase massively soon because of all the property development that’s happening)

We are about 50/50 female and male

23,473 or 54% of us live in social rented housing

11,964 or 27% of us rent from a private landlord

6,948 or 16% of us are home owners

3,689 or 8% of people here are unpaid carers

7,821 or 16% of people here have a limiting illness or disability

There are 5,845 vehicles owned or available to people living here – that’s 0.12 per person

Sophie Talbot volunteers for King’s Cross Community Projects – the charity is run entirely by volunteers. She is setting up her own web design business (cookiewp.com) to fund her voluntary work. She’s open to job offers!

About Sophie Talbot

Sophie runs a small business designing websites for small businesses and community groups. http://www.cookiewp.com She also manages King's Cross Community Projects http://www.kccp.org.uk
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4 Responses to King’s Cross Community Projects on how to get Census data for your area

  1. Sean Brady says:

    Brilliant Sophie, this is going to prove a really useful way of population the stats background material for the forthcoming Formby Neighbourhood Plan.

  2. Albert Beale says:

    From: Albert Beale, c/o 5 Cally Road

    Just a reminder about the increasing inaccuracy of census data – perhaps especially in neighbourhoods like Kings Cross!

    The last 3 have been increasingly done on the cheap, with corners cut. In fact the one in 2001 needed “correcting” to the tune of at least a million people (even on the ONS’s own admission) – yet the census is (or once was) the reference against which other less rigorous surveys were compared in order to correct for biases in them [the latter]. In other words, the “corrections” to the census – which in themselves demonstrate the fact that the census is, these days, “sold” on false pretences – were made at least partly on a circular logic, and hence have limited validity.

    The claimed accuracy of the census has been, to increasing degrees, rather a myth since at least the 1981 census (the last one I remember being done anywhere near properly). And this is exacerbated by the increasing deliberate evasion of the census in recent decades, on various grounds. (For instance: the justified lack of trust in the security of electronic data; ethical objections to some of the private companies contracted to handle the data; a refusal to co-operate with a government survey which demands to register people’s racial characteristics, or their beliefs, and so on.)

    I personally might co-operate with a census if it were more secure, if it only collected fully anonymised information about the numbers and ages of people in each area, and very basic information like that, and if the official arguments for it were not so self-evidently false. But since none of these is the case, I have (completely openly and publicly) boycotted the last 4 censuses (without ever suffering any comeback). (And in the case of the one before _that_, ie the 1971 census, I didn’t actually boycott it, but I was I think responsible for an interesting “blip in the statistics” for the corner of Brighton where I then lived… as witnessed by our area’s enumerator who joined our party that night and brought some excellent home brew….)

    Yours still unenumerated

    Albert

    • Sophie Talbot says:

      Totally agree Albert. The breakdowns I did this week have thrown up some very strange figures which certainly don’t make sense. Unfortunately it’s still the ‘best’ source of such data, so for community groups can be incredibly helpful for two reasons. First the figures can be helpful to make a case for funding. Second, by quoting census data and showing how it was gathered community groups show a level of competence that funders like, particularly when used alongside local knowledge.

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