Friday 3 May 2013

HS2 geodata - for download

Yesterday I wrote a short post on the Guardian's Datablog about my difficulties getting hold of the route data for the proposed routes for the new high speed rail lines in England. Coincidentally (or maybe not) HS2 responded to my request at almost exactly the same time as the piece appeared online. Anyway, sometimes it does take time for public bodies to respond to requests so my real question was why the shapefiles were not available for download, given that they are available under the Open Government Licence. I have a few ideas about why this must be but it would be good to have some information from this on HS2, though maybe they're too busy with other things! Clarity on this issue might, however, reduce the likelihood of data conspiracy theories and enhance transparency.

Anyway, enough about that. So that other people don't have the same wait as me to get hold of the GIS data I've made them available here via the link below. A few important points to bear in mind...

1. The Phase 1 (London to West Midlands) route is the 'post-consultation' route from January 2012.
2. The Phase 2 (Leeds and Manchester) routes are the 'initial preferred routes' from January 2013.
3. There is an interactive map of the Phase 1 route on the HS2 web pages, which is quite useful.
4. Users of the data need to remember to acknowledge the source.
5. It's not my data - I'm just making it available.
6. You can also get these files from Barry Cornelius, but not - as yet - from
7. The route data available for download here doesn't necessarily reflect the precise location of where the train lines will be built - particularly for Phase 2. 

HS2 shapefiles, as of 2 May 2013

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Population 'explosion' in English city centres

A paper I wrote about English urban policy and the 'return' to the city is now out in Cities, so I thought I'd blog about it. It's just something I wrote after the first release of small area data from the 2011 Census and the results are not entirely surprising to those with a knowledge of these things but the scale of change over the decade from 2001 to 2011 was pretty big, particularly in the case of Manchester, which I've written about previously. I also reflect upon wider international issues associated with 'reurbanization' (with a z because it's a US journal!) so I think that although the focus is on England it should have wider resonance.

I discuss this growth in the context of New Labour's urban policies, and particularly those which emerged from the Urban White Paper of 2000. Although some of the aims were achieved (e.g. making city centres look nicer, with better design), I conclude that the changes have been mostly superficial and that perpetually high levels of inner city deprivation in cities which were the main foci for urban policy during this period does not represent a very positive legacy, despite the 'success' of getting people to move back to the city. The fact that this picked up immediately by @urbandata suggests that these themes are also relevant in the United States, and beyond. It's a short paper but I hope to follow up on it at some point* with more detailed data on tenure, etc. to dig a little deeper.

*This is normally code for 'it will never happen'!