The aim of this Primer is to create a shared baseline of understanding for the various ideas and terms that we will explore as we go through the Toolkit.
Some of it will already be very familiar to people who work in local government and/or are already working on issues related to electric vehicles.
But, for others who are coming at this for the first time, it should help get you up and running by answering a lot of the questions that you have. It is organised into 4 sections covering key areas that will feature in the Toolkit - Geography, Population, Vehicles and Energy.
What Is 'local'?
The word ‘local’ can mean many different things and so we will start this Primer by looking at the variety of geographical schema that are used to slice up the territory of the United Kingdom for administrative and statistical purposes.
For this first version of the New AutoMotive Local Toolkit, we will be very much focused on Local Authority (LA) areas which can vary quite widely in terms of geographical size and population.
Over time, we plan to introduce more data that is associated with other sets of boundaries, for example postcode districts, as this can help us to be more granular in making estimates and plans.
In this section, we will walk you through some ways to explore the different kinds of boundaries and location data that are commonly used in the UK.
How can I learn about administrative and statistical areas?
When we want to understand which administrative and statistical areas apply to a particular location in the UK we typically look them up using latitude/longitude coordinates and/or a postcode.
For example, 10 Downing Street has the postcode SW1A 2AB and coordinates 51.503608683182506, -0.1276424819129249.
There are a number of different lookup tables provided by public and private organisations that will translate these coordinates and postcodes into administrative and statistical areas.
For people working in the public sector, this data is usually freely available as the government has paid for a sectoral license from bodies like Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail who own the original datasets.
People in the private and non-profit sectors will usually need to pay someone for a license if they want to do these lookups at scale. There is a good tool to see how all of this works called Mapit which is provided by the civic technology organisation MySociety.
You can put a postcode into Mapit and see the administrative areas it relates to for free and this is a great way to get familiar with the different types of boundaries if you are coming to this new. For example, the full data for 10 Downing Street.
If you want to do lots of lookups and automate them, and you are not within the government licensing regime, then there are a number of commercial providers offering this service for a fee including Mapit.
There are two useful resources provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that we would recommend if you want to explore the different geographical schema in more detail.
And the ONS has produced a wonderful printable poster showing the hierarchy of all the different geographical schema that is both daunting and illuminating.