Natural neighbourhoods – a new way to define where people live and work

If you were to tell someone where you lived, what would you say? You’d probably mention your town or, as long as it’s not a mouthful, your electoral ward. But what relevance does that hold to the immediate area outside your door? And, if you were to break it down even further, you’re certainly not going to say that you live in Manchester 042A, for example.

The truth is that many administrative and statistical geographies bear little relevance in the real world to how people refer to their local area. The names of town centres, high streets and other enclaves ring truer for most people; these longstanding, quotidian names carry so much more of the culture of a place, its people, and exist more organically than bureaucratic definitions.

The Natural Neighbourhoods app was developed with those real communities in mind. Resulting from work managed by Cheshire East Council and now hosted by LG Inform Plus, the Natural Neighbourhoods tool allows anyone to map custom areas built from existing standard geographies (wards, output areas, and LSOAs) that better represent real meaningful areas. Once published, these personal geographies are shared as linked data, so everyone can benefit from the same precise definitions of areas.

Cheshire East’s Local Area Partnerships provide a good example of a set of natural neighbourhoods given public definitions through the tool.

LG Inform Plus takes advantage of natural neighbourhoods by automatically calculating metrics for each published neighbourhood. Reports authored by councils can then be applied to neighbourhoods as an alternative to official geographies. Here’s a sample report for Cheshire East’s Local Area Partnerships.

Natural Neighbourhoods is now available on the LG Inform Plus website for the general public and local authorities alike. Public users can see how their local area is being redefined, can also share those definitions with others and create their own. Furthermore, subscribers to LG Inform Plus can produce reports based on the natural neighbourhoods and can start to see their areas through fresh eyes. Try it out today.

Click through for more information on Natural Neighbourhoods or LG Inform Plus, or leave a comment below. Contact support@esd.org.uk for help in creating or using your own neighbourhoods.

posted by esd support on 30th April 2014

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