Population 24/7 Near Real Time: Data Library, Sample Outputs and Batch Files for England, 2011

Cockings, Samantha and Martin, David and Harfoot, Andrew and Branson, Julia and Campbell-Sutton, Andrew and Gubbins, Gemma (2021). Population 24/7 Near Real Time: Data Library, Sample Outputs and Batch Files for England, 2011. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-853950

Decision-making and policy formulation in sectors such as health, emergency/crisis response and national security, ideally require accurate dynamic information on the number of people in specific places at specific times of the day, week, season or year. Traditional census data do not provide this level of detail but are often used for such policy and planning purposes. The ESRC-funded Population247 programme of research (Martin et al, 2015) developed a framework, methodology and software tool (SurfaceBuilder247) for integrating diverse contemporary data sources to produce enhanced time-specific population estimates for small geographical areas. Its usefulness has since been demonstrated for flooding and radiation emergency response/planning, through collaborations with HR Wallingford and Public Health England. These models have primarily involved the integration of open administrative data for activities such as place of residence, work, education and health. Now, new and emerging forms of data, such as sensor data, live and static data feeds provided via the internet, and various commercial datasets which were not previously available, provide exciting opportunities to enhance these population estimates. Such new and emerging datasets are useful because they provide near real-time information on population activity in sectors which are particularly dynamic and have previously been difficult to model, such as retail, leisure and transport. However, extracting useful intelligence from these sources, and integrating and calibrating them with existing data sources, poses significant challenges for researchers and practitioners seeking to employ them in the creation of time-specific population estimates. This project will combine new, emerging and existing datasets in order to produce enhanced time-specific population estimates for more informed decision-making and policy formulation in the health, emergency/crisis response and national security sectors. It is a collaborative project between University of Southampton, Public Health England (PHE), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The project will enhance existing methods and tools for harvesting, processing, integrating and calibrating new, emerging and existing data sources in order to produce time-specific population estimates. It will deliver two substantive policy demonstrator case studies with the project partners. The first case study will demonstrate the potential for using time-specific population estimates for near real-time response in emergencies; the second will explore their usefulness for modelling variation in 'normal' population distributions through space and time in order to inform longer-term planning and policy formulation. Importantly, the project will also encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise between academia and the public sector through joint design and implementation of the case studies, internal seminars and a jointly organised stakeholder workshop. Invitees to the workshop will be key stakeholders in policy and practice from within and beyond the partners' sectors. The workshop will showcase the data, methods and tools developed by the project, discuss the opportunities and challenges involved in implementing these for decision-making and policy formulation, and identify how such methods might realistically be scaled up within these sectors. Ultimately, the aim of the project is to help partners such as PHE, HSE and Dstl carry out their remits more effectively and efficiently through the provision of better time-specific population estimates.

Data description (abstract)

This data collection comprises a data library, sample outputs, batch files and accompanying documentation from the ESRC-funded project “Population247NRT: Near real-time spatiotemporal population estimates for health, emergency response and national security”. The data comprise a structured set of input data for use with the authors’ SurfaceBuilder247 software and sample outputs which estimate the population distribution of England at specific times on specific dates, referenced to 2011 census population totals. The sample output files (provided as GeoTIFFs) contain population estimates in 200m grid cells, based on the British National Grid, for 02:00 (2am) and 14:00 (2pm) on a typical weekday in University and school term-time and out of term-time. The estimates are broken down by seven age/economic activity sub-groups for term-time and six for out of term-time, and include estimates of population activity in residential, workplace, education, healthcare and road transportation domains. The data library, which has been constructed entirely using open data sources, comprises population estimates, by age/economic activity sub-groups, for point locations (typically population-weighted centroids of census output areas and workplace zones, or postcode centroids of sites such as schools or hospitals); time profiles representing usual patterns of population activity at these sites during a 24-hour period; and background grid layers representing the land surface area and major road network. SurfaceBuilder247 uses the data library to generate time-specific gridded population estimates by redistributing the population of each sub-group across the available locations and background grid in accordance with the reference time profiles. The sample output grids provided in this resource may be used directly in GIS software or, alternatively, the input data library may be reprocessed using SurfaceBuilder247 to generate estimates for specific dates and times of interest to the user. Sample batch and session parameter files are included in the resource.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Cockings Samantha University of Southampton https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3333-4376
Martin David University of Southampton https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0397-0769
Harfoot Andrew University of Southampton https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9923-5018
Branson Julia University of Southampton https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7511-1026
Campbell-Sutton Andrew University of Southampton
Gubbins Gemma University of Southampton https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0554-1856
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
Grant reference: ES/P010768/1
Topic classification: Demography (population, vital statistics and censuses)
Social stratification and groupings
Project title: Population247NRT: Near real-time spatiotemporal population estimates for health, emergency response and national security
Alternative title: Pop247NRT
Grant holders: Samantha Cockings, Glen Hart, William Holmes, David Martin, Thomas Charnock, Nicholas Gibbins
Project dates:
14 February 201731 December 2018
Date published: 26 Apr 2021 08:51
Last modified: 26 Apr 2021 09:47

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