What is the U•Geo Browser?
The U•Geo Browser is a bespoke resource discovery tool for searching and browsing georeferenced survey data held by the UK Data Archive.
The Browser provides detailed information on which spatial variables are present in each data collection and which digital boundary files correspond
to those spatial variables, to better enable the use of this data in geospatial applications. Boundary files are usually available from EDINA’s
The Browser also provides information on the quality, standardisation and time referencing of spatial units. The detailed information validates,
clarifies and augments the metadata currently presented through the UK Data Service data catalogue, and is intended to be used alongside this.
How does it work?
The Browser is organised around two fundamental entities: studies and spatial units. Studies are data collections held within the UK Data Service collection,
usually from major national surveys. Spatial units are discrete divisions of space used to geo-reference data, e.g. electoral ward or county.
With the Study View and Unit View tabs you can switch between browsing studies and browsing spatial units. Studies contain variables that are coded
as geographic identifiers, using a particular spatial unit. This relationship is reflected in embedded links between the Study and Unit Views.
The Unit View functions similarly to a dictionary, giving a detailed definition of any particular spatial unit.
The search box can be used to query for a particular term.
The filters on the right of the page can be used to browse and refine results thematically, by selecting relevant criteria.
Access conditions for data collections
Data files are either available via:
Standard Access: Requires users to register with UK Data Service, provide details of intended use and agree to an End User Licence before data files
can be downloaded. The End User Licence specifies the terms and conditions of data use.
Special Licence: For data containing more detailed spatial units, special use conditions may exist, with users required to apply via UK Data Service
for ONS Approved Researcher status or a Special Licence required by the data owner; or other access conditions may be specified. Details of
the use conditions are found in the UK Data Service catalogue record.
Secure Data Service: detailed confidential or sensitive data are made available via the Secure Data Service that facilitates remote analysis
Further information on access conditions is available:
Why can’t I find the dataset I'm looking for?
In its current form the U•Geo Browser is a demonstration tool that contains metadata on a subset of the UK Data Service data collections
(major national survey data).
Any feedback on your experience with the Browser is very much appreciated, and should be addressed to: tensom at essex.ac.uk
A researcher is studying the geography of happiness across different regions and localities in the UK. She would like to use various social
parameters of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), and wants to find out which spatial variables she can use to geo-reference the dataset.
As she is particularly interested in patterns over time, she needs to know this for all waves (i.e. years) of the survey. She is keen to use a
unit that is appropriate for statistical analysis, but also realises that license restrictions may limit her access to certain variables. Finally,
she wants to find an appropriate UK-wide shapefile for her chosen spatial unit that she can map the data onto and create some nice visualisations
to impress project stakeholders.
Using the U•Geo Browser she finds that three spatial units are available for the BHPS via Conditional Access (she can access one such spatial
unit after agreeing to click-through use conditions): Local Authority Districts, Parliamentary Constituencies. These spatial units are available
for all waves from 1991 until 2009. The Browser also shows her that UKBorders has the following shapefiles for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland: Local Authority District boundaries for 2001 only; Parliamentary Constituency boundaries for 1991, 1997 and 2001.
Alternatively, she could seek approval for access to the BHPS data containing British National Grid postcode grid references via the Secure Data