Understanding Scottish Places

Data from over 500 places in Scotland

The Numbers

Places in Scotland
weeks to completion

The Challenge

There are number of factors which contribute to Scotland’s successful, thriving towns and communities. For example, how many schools or doctors surgeries a town has, and how far residents have to commute from the town to their place of work.

Within local authorities, planning teams are tasked with developing strategies to grow and sustain thriving communities in their region and the USP tool has been developed to assist town planners compare Scottish towns to understand where they may need to invest resources most efficiently. Deliberately designed to avoid a simplistic ranking of places as better or worse, USP focuses on the shared characteristics of towns.

Understanding Scottish Places has been developed by a consortium of organisations commissioned by the Scottish Government and led by the Carnegie UK Trust. The consortium includes Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the University of Stirling.

The Objectives

  • Development of a Typology of Scottish Towns

    Rather than displaying a ranking, the typology developed should place Scottish towns into categories based on their characteristics using non-judgemental and holistic labels. Examples are metrics such as tourist bed spaces, grant funding, diversity of retail offer, and commuter flows. This draws a holistic picture for councils and residents alike and enables them to identify strengths and weaknesses within their communities.
  • Insights into Characteristics of Scottish Towns

    A comparison tool should offer practitioners the opportunity to compare their town to others of the same type across the country. This would allow them to share and benefit from the most applicable best practice and policy.
  • Option to Add and Analyse Locally Available Information

    A user-friendly and intelligent application based on a benchmarking toolkit should encourage users to add (for example qualitative) information to the data to close possible gaps and meet new developments.
  • Encourage Sharing of Information, Experience and Policies

    An interactive forum was envisioned to allow users to comment on and discuss what they have found and learnt through the site. This should encourage collaboration between towns, close in type and/or location.

Key Features

Built to last

The site was built with progressive enhancement in mind. The first updated version was launched in 2017 and will be constantly reviewed to reflect new data and requirements.

Visually appealing

Data should be easily understandable and visually appealing. Rather than displaying bare numbers and tables, USP was developed to encourage users to dig deeper into discovering characteristics of their towns and places. This was achieved through the design of intuitive graphs and clear colour schemes.

Cross-Device and Browser Compatibility

USP is available and optimised for every device – desktop, mobile or tablet. We followed a mobile-first mentality and developed the site keeping responsive design in mind. The same applied for browsers: given the target audience of the site, various browser types had to be taken into consideration, which is also reflected in the objective of progressive browser enhancement.

The Process

Data Research

Defining datasets to be visualised through close dialogue with client consortium.

Data Visualisation

Scoping and prototyping of data visualisation options to ensure legibility and ease of understanding of complex datasets.

Get in Touch

If you're looking to bring interesting data to life with engaging visualisations, get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.