Your neighbourhood revealed online
Fascinating facts and figures about your local area were once locked away in archives and libraries – now they’re all available online. Joseph Fox reveals all
Find out what’s really going on in your locality from crime and property prices to film sets and bomb sites
Check local crime rate
Containing data going back to October 2014, Police.uk maps ( www.police.uk) report crimes in your area. Zoom into the map and click a number to see what the crime was (anti-social behaviour, burglary or shoplifting, for example), then click the small ‘More details’ link (see screenshot below) for more information. To see whether the crime was solved, click ‘Case timeline’ on the next page. Click ‘Sign up for alerts’ in the right-hand menu to receive monthly bulletins about crime in your area.
Discover environmental data
Data about natural aspects of our locality is easier to access than ever. The Environment Agency’s website ( www.snipca.com/26351) provides information that, 20 years ago, you’d have needed your own weather station and team of geographers to obtain. You can find out everything you need to know about farming in your area, how local coasts and shorelines are eroding, where your nearest authorised landfill is, and most importantly how much your home is at risk of flooding.
Also useful is the Noise Map from environmental consultants Extrium ( www.snipca.com/26376), which visualises noise pollution caused by road and rail traffic. Purple is very noisy (75 decibels and over); orange represents the quietest areas (under 59 decibels).
Give roadworks and accident blackspots a wide berth
To avoid roadworks in your area visit Roadworks.org ( https://roadworks.org), which uses information from local and national highways authorities. Click a symbol and you’ll see what’s taking place and who’s responsible (Virgin Media in our screenshot above - let’s hope they are laying super-fast broadband!).
For details of potential disruptions, check planning applications on your local council’s website. One way to find this is via Gov.uk – go to www.snipca. com/26342 and type your postcode.
Crashmap ( www.crashmap.co.uk) shows traffic incidents stretching back 19 years, using data collected by the police and reported to the Department for Transport. You can filter searches by vehicle type and severity (slight, serious or fatal), but to read more details you’ll need to pay for a report (£1 each).
Measure your area’s wealth and happiness
Whoever said you can’t measure happiness obviously didn’t work for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its annual ‘Personal well-being’ survey quantifies the life satisfaction of people in the UK of every area on the UK mainland. For a map visit www.snipca.com/26345
and scroll down to section 7. At the time of writing, this hadn’t yet been updated with the latest results ( www.snipca. com/26344), published in November, in which England was the only country to see an improvement in life satisfaction.
The ONS has also measured wealth, on its map of ‘Regional gross disposable household income’: www.snipca. com/26346.
Analyse 2011’s Census data
Datashine Census ( http://datashine.org. uk) is probably the most complex site here, but also the most fascinating. It maps every aspect of the 2011 Census in England and Wales (for Scotland visit www.snipca.com/26341), letting you dig deep into the changing nature of our country. That said, the postcode search box is hard to spot - you’ll find it at the bottom. Type it, click Go, then zoom in.
Where it gets really interesting is in the Data Chooser bar at the top right. Using this you can filter the results by very specific criteria, including religion, health, ethnicity, employment and languages spoken. You then need to check the yellow-to-red bar at the bottom left, showing low to high. For example, in our screenshot above displaying how many people in east London were born in the UK, the redder the area, the higher the percentage. In the yellow areas, the proportion is around 25 per cent and less.
To see where people are moving to and from within the UK, visit the Royal Mail’s Moving Map ( www.snipca. com/26349). Launched in early 2017, it uses addresses given to its redirection service to chart how far people move into and out of an area (the average is 25.8 miles, with the longest being 728).
Find out the value of your (and your neighbours’) home
It’s always interesting to check the value of your home, then compare it with your neighbours’. To do that, use the calculator from mortgage advisors London & Country ( www.snipca.com/26357).
Next, browse the heat maps from online estate agent Zoopla ( www.zoopla. co.uk/heatmaps), which show you average prices by postcode, helpfully colour-coded. Port Talbot’s £129,000 for example shows as a cool, calming blue. West London’s glamorous Fitzrovia, on the other hand, is painted a shocking shade of dark red, thanks to its £4.4m price tag.
You can use the Land Registry, via Gov.uk, to find out how much a particular property sold for ( www.gov. uk/search-house-prices), while Nationwide’s House Price Index tool ( www.snipca.com/26352) calculates the percentage rise in your home’s value.
Forget about property values, here’s something truly priceless: a spot in silver-screen history. The UK Map of Film Locations ( www.snipca.com/26354) plots 82 of cinema’s most memorable
locations, some of which may be closer to you than you think. Who knew Batman lived in Nottingham? Wollaton Hall to be precise.
The BFI’S Britain on Film site ( www. snipca.com/26355) may actually give you a historical glimpse of your own home. Thousands of clips from the past 120 years have been preserved and uploaded, painting a unique picture of Britain through the years.
See the Blitz bomb sites
From 7 September 1940 to 10 May 1941 London was subjected to unrelenting bombing by the German Luftwaffe. Some 30,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped during the Blitz, killing 40,000 people. Using data previously only available at the National Archives, Bomb Sight ( www. bombsight.org) maps where the bombs fell, including one right next to where Computeractive now resides (see screenshot left).
Check roadworks happening near you – and who is responsible
Zoom into your area on Police.uk to see crimes that were reported recently
Datashine maps the 2011 Census across the UK, showing information such as country of birth