Population Builder

17 Aug 2015 11:23 GMT

My latest experiment in data-driven web development is Population Builder, a web-app that lets you build a population estimate for a set of small areas in Great Britain.

Zoom into the map anywhere in Great Britain and the app will overlay boundaries of small areas. These areas are lower layer super output areas (LSOAs) in England and Wales, and data zones in Scotland. These are the smallest areas for which annual population estimates are published. (Currently the most recent estimates at this level are for mid-2013, but data for mid-2014 will be out in the autumn.)

A screenshot from the application showing a map of London.

Clicking or tapping these areas will select them, adding their estimated population to the total shown in the counter in the top right corner. Clicking or tapping “Get data” under the population estimate for the selected areas will take you to a results page, which shows a visualisation of the age-distribution of the population and provides a link to download the data.

I developed Population Builder in my spare time to contribute to a project taking place in Parliament to explore using the web to make data more directly available to the public. In my work I am often asked to produce ad-hoc population estimates for arbitrary small areas, and while the data is readily available, the process is time consuming. Population Builder tries to make that as easy as possible.

The software is still at a relatively early stage: it aims to perform its core task well, but I can imagine other features that would make it even more useful — linkable selections would be very nice, for example, but present some interesting challenges in this case.

Nevertheless, I felt it was sufficiently developed to release into the wild for feedback and suggestions. Consider this an open beta. Please let me know what you think.