Doctor Samantha Cockings

Dr Samantha Cockings

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Automated zone design
  • Spatiotemporal population modelling
  • Environment and health

More research

Accepting applications from PhD students.


Sam is an Associate Professor in Socio-economic applications of geographic information systems/science (GIS) and has been a member of staff at the University of Southampton since 2000.

Sam’s research focuses primarily on developing better ways of mapping and modelling populations.  Her research is based around two key strands: automated design of geographical zones and production of time-specific population estimates. Sam thrives on the development of methods and software tools which make a real difference to policy and practice and is privileged to have worked with many brilliant colleagues in long-term partnerships with public sector organisations such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) (previously Public Health England) and Ordnance Survey (OS).

Sam is part of the teams developing the software tools AZTool and SurfaceBuilder247. ONS employed AZTool to design and maintain the geographical zones used to publish all residential and workplace data from the 2011 and 2021 Censuses in England and Wales. For the 2021 Census, Sam and colleagues helped ONS design workload areas for more efficient and effective collection of data in the field. The team has also developed a novel geodemographic Classification of Workplace Zones (COWZ). Together with David Martin, Sam is a founder of the Population24/7 approach to spatiotemporal population modelling, including research to produce near real-time estimates for health, emergency response and national security

Sam is currently working with colleagues from OS and the Department for Levelling-up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to develop new sets of reporting units based on streets and is contributing to discussions around future ways of producing enhanced time-specific population estimates with ONS and other collaborators.

Sam brings this enthusiasm for applied methods to her teaching and supervision in the fields of geographic information systems/science and environment and health.