Where is "The North"?
Since the dawn of time the great north-south divide has fuelled endless bar-room banter and driven road sign makers to near insanity. The burning question has always been, where does this divide fall, where exactly is the north, and how far south do you have to be to be considered a southerner.
The difficulties of mapping social divides
Previous attempts to definitively chart the north-south divide have focussed on behavioural keys amongst the population by asking divisive questions such as:
- Do you know what a Parmo is?
- Do you like chips with your gravy?
- Will you be eating tea or having dinner around 6pm?
- Do you know what a ginnel is?
- Do you prefer your sandwich filling in a bap, bun, roll or breadcake?
However, until such time that vital questions like “Do you eat growlers or pork pies?” is included in the census, then small sample sizes and such subjective questioning make the results inconclusive.
Segmenting the UK by population levels
Using the powerful geographical tools at our disposal, we at Beacon Dodsworth have decided to face this challenge head-on and equally and fairly divide the country into a north and south. Using the Territory Management function from our Prospex GIS – which we normally use to divide sales areas amongst field teams by value, or population – we set out to divide the country into two distinct areas of equal population. As a national project we created boundaries at postcode area level (the first one or two letters in a postcode) to give a good indication without overwhelming us with detail, whilst population figures came from our P2 People & Places geodemographic data. Our first attempt gave us the map shown to the right.
With London and surrounding areas being so populous, it would seem that “The North” starts a little bit further south than you would think when we look at a population-based divide. So we decided to look at a couple of alternative models (the maps below), one where we create three equally populated territories, with a “midlands” area expanding from a central point in the country. Finally, we looked at a north, south, east, west split to try and create a model that more-closely matches people’s preconceptions of the UK’s social geography.
So where does "The North" begin?
Fortunately, our mathematical approach was just a bit of fun as I’m not sure any of our models are entirely suitable for national segmentation. If you live in Cambridge for example, do you consider yourself to live in the North as our first model suggests? Our more complex models also raise some serious questions; For example is Enfield really where the Midlands begins?
This exercise was a valuable test of our GIS' territory manager and its ability to calculate large quantities of data in order to build territories of equal value out from a fixed starting point. However, I don’t think we’ve managed to definitively answer the question: where is "The North"? I guess we’ll leave that up to the Friday night scholars in their local drinking establishment and we await their peer-reviewed findings in due course.
Our other blogs
Cycle to work day
Each year for #cycletoworkday we take a look at cycling statistics across the country and try to map that data and find interesting trends. This is mainly because we at Beacon Dodsworth are either a little bit obsessed about cycling, or we tend to worry about the environment.
Administrative geography is a way of dividing the country into smaller sub-divisions or areas that correspond with the area of responsibility of local authorities and government bodies. It provides an alternative to postcode geography but because it tends not to be used by consumers, it is often overlooked. We take a look at administrative geography, what it is and how to use it.
Mapping for local projects
Recently, we were contacted by a company responsible for organising charity door knockers. They needed more than 9,000 postcode sectors mapped at A4 size to pass to ground staff showing street level detail. This would enable them to use maps at a local level to plan fundraising routes and clearly define territories for each agent.
What is geodemographic profiling?
More than 64 million people live in the UK, each with their own outlook, priorities, needs and way of life. Geodemographic profiling offers a way to group these individuals to try and identify the right audience for your product or service.
As a Yorkshire-based company, we wanted to help celebrate Yorkshire Day, which takes place on 1st August. Naturally, we wanted to put a geographic spin on the celebration, so we took a look at drinking preferences within God’s own county.
All you need to know about postcodes but were afraid to ask
The humble postcode has been around for years. We look at how postcodes are used and what led to their introduction.
Google Fusion Tables
After almost 10 years of service, Google are to retire their Fusion Tables product at the end of 2019. This tool was very useful got visualising and sharing large amounts of tabular data - particularly amongst small and mid-sized businesses. So what can we do to fill the gap left by this tool?
The foundations of geographical analysis
Displaying data on maps makes it easier to understand as well as giving a new perspective on a problem. Using a GIS to prepare and present data has become increasingly popular over the last 20 years, but graphical displays of data on maps were around long before computers came along.
Who spends most on Fruit and Veg
National Vegetarian Week (#NationalVegetarianWeek) this year runs from 13th to 19th May. What better opportunity to highlight how GIS mapping can be used to create marketing campaigns and raise awareness of the benefits of eating more fruit and veg.
Meet the team: Toby
Toby, our Sales Executive, gives a retrospective of his time teaching, and learning about Beacon Dodsworth's GIS solutions.
Postcode to postcode drive time and distance
What happens if we want a postcode to postcode drive time lookup table?
Using geographic intelligence to grow the UK’s broadband network
Using geographic intelligence to sustainably grow the UK’s broadband network.
Living Costs and Food Survey
The Living Costs and Food survey (LCF) is compiled every year and is used by the UK and European governments, Department for Transport (DfT), and Her Majesty’s Revenue and the Customs (HMRC). But what is it, and why should we care?
How far is it to the beach
Using Beacon Dodsworth's scripting technology to showcase demographic and geographic trends.
What is GIS software?
A Geographical Information System (GIS), is a tool for analysing, visualising, managing and presenting data that is related to a physical, geographical location. That link to geography is the key difference between GIS and other data visualisation techniques.
Mapping GP prescription data
An article by Allan Brimicombe (Head of Centre for Geo-Information Studies at the University of East London) & Pat Mungroo on using GP prescription data to understand health needs.
What has the census ever done for us?
How Census 2011 can be used to help organisations with demographic analysis.
Social change over 10 years
The next census isn’t due to take place until 2021 so we thought it was a good time to take stock of some of the changes and trends we noticed between the 2001 and the 2011 census. What difference does 10 years make to our society and the people that live within it?
How to back up your Prospex data
Keep your GIS projects safe by using the in-built Prospex back up process. Here is how.
The power of postcode sectors
Postcode sectors are aggregations of individual postcodes and they provide meaningful geographical reporting areas in any GIS. However, they aren't as easy to map as you might think. Here is how we do it.
Where is the North
We've used the territory manager tool in Prospex GIS to split the UK into north, south and east and west with equal population counts.
Geodemographics and the University of East London
The University of East London explain how they have been using our P² People & Places geodemographic classification.
Household spend on fruit and vegetables
Using GIS mapping to visualise, analyse and present data in a geographical context.
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