Consultation regarding the redraw of Data Zones

This consultation contains proposals for the redraw of Data Zones

1. Introduction

1.1. Data Zones first became available in Spring 2004 following the results of the 2001 population Census. The final publication of the Data Zone geography was seen as a milestone in the ability to monitor and develop policy at small area level.

1.2. Scotland is currently divided into 6,505 Data Zones of varying size and shape, but with a roughly standard population in both rural and urban areas. Data Zones are a static geography created purely for the purpose of presenting statistics.

1.3. Since their inception, Data Zones have become the main small area geography used for presenting statistics. They are the core geography behind the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website ( and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation in addition to being the main small area geography for a wide range of statistical outputs.

1.4. Data Zones were built up from 2001 Census Output Areas (COAs) and met tight constraints on population thresholds (500 - 1,000 household residents). The aim was to build Data Zones by grouping together COAs with similar social characteristics, for Data Zones to have a fairly compact shape, and to take account of physical boundaries.

1.5. Data Zones are intended to be used as static geographic units over time. This allows analysis of change over time at a small area to be carried out, without the problem of discontinuities caused by boundary changes. There are, however, a number of issues related to temporal change that affect their validity such as:

  • Population Change: Over time, houses will be built or demolished and some Data Zones will grow or shrink beyond the original population thresholds.
  • Boundary Changes: Most geographies are not static. When other geographies change their boundaries, they often split Data Zones leading to inaccurate classifications of Census Output Areas or postcodes.
  • Loss of Social Homogeneity: The Data Zones were created to have social homogeneity. However, over time social and economic changes may have taken place that may reduce the level of social homogeneity within a Data Zone.

1.6. For the reasons noted above, Data Zones need to be redrawn. The purpose of this consultation is to gain user views on the draft set of Data Zone 2011 boundaries.

1.7. Proposed draft 2011 Data Zone boundaries can be viewed and downloaded at

1.8. The closing date for providing submissions to this consultation is the 12th February 2014.


Email: Victoria Kinnear - Lachhab

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