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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science


Collaboration is a key part of the University’s research activities and working together is integral to many of our research projects in Geography and Environmental Science.

A large crowd of people
New ways of mapping the people

One of our key collaborations is with the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Professor David Martin has actively collaborated with the census and geography teams at the ONS for more than 15 years, which has resulted in research that has had national impact.


"Back in 1996 I spent a period of research leave from the university as a visiting researcher in the Census Division at the ONS," David says. "At the time, there was much interest in the introduction of a geographical information system (GIS) for the management of the 2001 census of population and I undertook a research project developing GIS techniques to design a completely new system of small areas for publishing census results.”

David's work led to the creation of the output areas used across England and Wales for the 2001 census and, subsequently, to the system of super output areas which are the foundation of the Neighbourhood Statistics Service. Samantha Cockings, an Associate Professor in Geography and Andrew Harfoot, a Senior Research Fellow have worked extensively with ONS throughout the preparation and publication of the 2011 census and their methods were used to generate an updated national coverage of output areas and an entirely new system of workplace zones. These are the foundation for the publication of 2011 small area census outputs in England and Wales and have been widely identified by the user community as one of the successes of the 2011 census. The team have contributed to two Eurostat population mapping projects based on 2011 data and are continuing to work with ONS on a classification of workplace zones.

This eminent collaboration has led to a series of research projects, some funded by the ONS and others by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which tackle a variety of zone design challenges. David directed ESRC's census programme from 2002-12 and is now deputy director of ESRC’s UK Data Service. He led a Royal Geographical Society initiative to demonstrate the case for small area census data in 2021 census planning. Both David and Samantha continue to advise a wide range of partners regarding geographical referencing issues.



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