Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics: Intermediate Geography Background Information
Frequently Asked Questions about the Intermediate Geography
How will the Scottish Executive use the intermediate geography?
The data zone is the key small area statistical geography in Scotland. The intermediate geography will be used to disseminate statistics that are not suitable for release at the data zone level. It is intended that Government Statistics currently released at the electoral ward level will in future be released at the intermediate geography level instead.
After releasing the data zone geography in February 2004, it became apparent that there were some statistics that were not suitable for release at the data zone level because of the sensitive nature of the statistics or for reasons of reliability.
(Information about data zones can be accessed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/society/sndata-00.asp)
How will public sector organisations use the intermediate geography?
The introduction of the new data zones and intermediate geography will enable public sector organisations to have access to a wide range of aggregated central government administrative information which will help policy making at a local level.
It is also envisaged that the new geographies will help Community Planning partners to build a common understanding of local issues.
Will the intermediate geography be held consistent over time geography?
The intention is for the intermediate geography to be stable to allow changes over time to be easily monitored. We are currently developing the process for maintaining the intermediate geography and data zones. With each yearly update of Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics we will need to ensure that intermediate geography and data zones meet the minimum population thresholds.
What statistics will be available for intermediate zones?
It is expected that labour market, benefits and community care statistics currently disseminated at ward level through Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics will become available at the intermediate geography during 2005.
Because the intermediate geography are groups of data zones there are added benefits in that the perception of disclosure of information through overlapping geographies is removed and it is hoped that this will allow some key labour market and benefits statistics to become available at the data zone level also.
See www.sns.gov.uk for the current topics included.
How do I get a copy of the intermediate geography and data zone boundaries and look-up tables?
The intermediate geography and data zone shape files can be downloaded from the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website ( www.sns.gov.uk). Additional background material and look-up tables can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/sns/SNSRef
Do intermediate zones represent communities on the ground?
It was always recognised that intermediate zones are statistical small areas and do not necessarily delineate communities on the ground. However, community boundaries were taken in to consideration in the construction and quality assurance of the intermediate zones.
There are 1235 intermediate zones in Scotland, containing on average 4000 household residents. There is some variance in the intermediate zone populations across Scotland, with one quarter of intermediate zones containing less than 3200 household residents, one half of intermediate zones containing less than 3900 household residents, and three quarters of intermediate zones containing less than 4800 household residents.
How was the intermediate geography produced?
The intermediate geography was designed to meet constraints on population thresholds (2,500 - 6000 household residents), to nest in to local authorities and to be built up from data zones. The aim was also to build intermediate zones by grouping together data zones with similar social characteristics, to have a fairly compact shape, and to take account of physical boundaries. To do this (in most areas) we used Scottish Parliamentary Constituencies to get a first cut of intermediate zones and refined these using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, settlement boundaries, and background mapping.
The intermediate geography was then sent to Community Planning Partnerships who were asked to quality assure the intermediate geography based on their local knowledge and suggest changes were appropriate. All changes were accepted as long as they met the population threshold and data zone building block criteria and nested in to local authorities.
A report from St Andrews describing the process for producing intermediate zones is included at Annex A.
How were users consulted?
The original design for the intermediate geography and the role Community Planning Partnerships would play in the process was agreed at the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics Development Group in spring 2004. The Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics Development Group includes representatives from local government, a range of public and voluntary organizations, and central Government.
As stated above Community Planning Partnerships played an important role in quality assuring and improving the intermediate geography based on local knowledge.
Were all suggested changes to intermediate geography accepted?
All changes were accepted as long as they met the population threshold and data zone building block criteria and nested in to local authorities.
How long did the consultation with Community Planning Partnerships take?
Community Planning Partnerships had three months to quality assure and improve the intermediate geography. Well before the consultation began, each Community Planning Partnership was asked to identify a co-ordinator to collate responses in each area.
Which boundaries does the intermediate geography respect?
Intermediate zones have been designed to respect local authority boundaries as at 2001 Census.
A small number of Community Planning Partnerships redesigned their intermediate geography by grouping together data zones to best fit local geographies of interest. These were accepted if they were consistent with the overarching population threshold criteria.
How will the intermediate geography take account of population change?
As part of Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics the General Register for Scotland (GROS) is developing a methodology to produce population estimates at the data zone level. 2001 Census population estimates were used in the creation of the intermediate geography and data zones.
Will the intermediate geography take account of current and future planning applications?
Information on population change as a result of development and regeneration will come from the General Register for Scotland small area population estimates.
Do the intermediate zone have names?
26 out of 32 Community Planning Partnerships took up the offer to name the intermediate zones.
Why did you use data zones as the geography to build the intermediate geography?
We now have a statistical geography hierarchy in Scotland:
Postcode unit* - 2001 Census output area - Data zone - Intermediate Geography - Local Authority
* postcode units are best-fitted to 2001 Census output areas
This allows ready aggregation geographically referenced information to any layer of the hierarchy which makes analysis more efficient and removes potential issue of confidentiality which are raised when statistical geographies overlap. Which in turn can result in more statistics being made available at the data zone level.
Will the links between postcodes, data zones and intermediate zones be maintained?
The links between postcodes and data zones and intermediate zones are needed to allow statistics to be produced for SNS. The intention is to continue to make the links available to SNS users. GROS will also maintain the relationships on the GROS Postcode Index.
Are there any confidentiality issues with using the intermediate geography?
The Scottish Executive statisticians work to a Code of Practice which prevents us from releasing analyses which could identify specific individuals. We use several methods to prevent this, including rounding the results.
What other geographies will be supported in Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics?
The key geography for disseminating results through Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics will continue to be the data zone. Results will also be available at the intermediate geography and Local Authority, and best fit information will be available at Health Board and Scottish Parliamentary Constituency level.
We are exploring whether to include the Scottish Executive Urban Rural Classification and the future Regeneration Outcome Agreement geography within Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics.