UK’s first data service for towns and cities launches

Margaret Burgess MSP (Minister for Housing and Welfare) launches the Understanding Scottish Places Toolkit, in Musselburgh.

Edinburgh demonstrates most entrepreneurial spirit when compared with other major cities

A consortium, made up of the Carnegie UK Trust, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the University of Stirling, has unveiled the UK’s first online tool to help understand the facts, figures and interrelationships that underpin all of Scotland’s towns and cities.

The launch took place on 29th April in Musselburgh which saw Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare, ’switch-on’ the new online tool.

Anyone can now access a full suite of information about any of 479 Scottish communities digitally – and compare that information with any other place across the country.

For example, a quarter of jobs in Musselburgh are in the education sector, a far higher proportion than in neighbouring Edinburgh. Planners using the site might be surprised to discover that one of the most similar towns to Musselburgh is Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire. The site also reveals that Edinburgh is Scotland’s most entrepreneurial city by having the most number of people classed as ‘self-employed’ when compared to Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Inverness.

Understanding Scottish Places (USP) answers a pressing need for better quality information to inform important decisions about how communities are organised and funded. It brings together 36,000 different pieces of data about places and people in Scotland into one online, visual, searchable database.

The launch of the new tool comes on the back of an Ipsos MORI survey carried out in March by the Carnegie UK Trust, leaders of the USP consortium, which encouragingly revealed that the majority (54%) of Scots value the services available in their local communities.  Many of those questioned recognised the way in which places in Scotland are inter-related and rely on each other for different facilities and services, something that is explored further in USP.  Almost 40% revealed that they travel to access the services they require.

Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare said: “We believe that USP is a powerful asset for people working across the country to design better strategies for their communities – whether they are in councils, town partnerships or BIDs, traders associations, businesses or community groups.

“USP is a great resource, ideally positioned to help local people see how their area is working for them and be inspired to get involved in revitalising their towns.   It is just one of a suite of measures that the Scottish Government is backing to help to deliver the Town Centre Action Plan.  We hope that this platform will encourage communities to look across to other towns with similar characteristics and start to share more of their success stories.”

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, joined Margaret Burgess for the switch-on, and said: “USP is a valuable tool for all of those invested in making our town’s better places to live.  It recognises that different places have different needs, and require different services and resources. It explores the way in which each place has a unique identity and this is how we need to think about places when we design services, invest, and innovate. For the first time, the platform looks at the levels of interdependency between communities, to give us a more sophisticated and constructive picture of how our places work together.

“In the coming months, we will be consulting further across the whole country, to see what needs to be added to this platform to deepen that understanding and grow the sophistication of the data we can offer.”

The platform has been designed and built by the Carnegie UK Trust, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the University of Stirling. It is available now at Co-funded by Carnegie UK and the Scottish Government, it is a practical output of the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Action Plan.

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