What to ask about geography

An understanding of geography is an important part of providing statistical context and insight. Producers need to think about the geographic information needs of users. Here are some questions to consider in relation to official statistics and geography.

1. About the statistics

  • Which data/statistics are released with a geographic breakdown?
  • What level of geography is given? For example: super output area level, local authorities, regions, etc.
  • Have geographic standards, such as the ONS area classification, been applied? If not, is the rationale for the decision given alongside the statistics and is it reasonable?
  • What barriers are there to maximising geographical analysis? These could be bespoke geographical coding, missing geographic identifiers, inadequate metadata?

2. Suitable for users

  • Does the producer understand their users’ needs for geographic information? Are the identified user needs met? Are there any devolved aspects to take into account?
  • What is the best way to present the geographical information?
  • Can users compare summary statistics? Are areas comparable – e.g. are the same definitions and methods used across areas? How have boundaries changed overtime?
  • What explanations are given about issues of coherence across geographic areas, such as sub-nationally, UK countries, internationally?

3. Accessibility

  • How accessible are the data/statistics online – for example, an online data store or data service? Can users easily obtain and use data/statistics by area?
  • What detailed data is available to the producer but not released? Is it available on request?

4. Collaboration

  • Does the producer collaborate with producers for other administrations or organisations in sharing, linking or releasing data/statistics by geography?