InstantAtlas visualisation of railway station usage in Britain, 1997-2015

In Dec 2015 the BBC reported on Britain’s busiest and quietest stations. They made use of data released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) that records the estimated number of entries and exits based on the total number of people traveling from or to the station. The list of busiest stations in the BBC article isn’t particularly surprising – London’s main stations are by far the busiest (Waterloo, Victoria, Liverpool Street, etc).

What is more interesting to me is the year-on-year change for each station – whether usage significantly increased or decreased – and seeing this information on a map where it belongs. The ORR publish a time series dataset for 1997-2015 that includes Ordnance Survey grid references. This makes it an easy job to plot the location of the 2,608 stations in InstantAtlas.

My report shows year-on-year change. One challenge was the large number of points (stations) that obscured one another and made the map hard to read. To overcome this I filtered out stations where year-on-year change was less than 50% and experimented with the size, colour and opacity of the points to strike the best balance.

View report: Dark or Light canvas.

Click the Play button to animate year-on-year change, or click the dates at the foot of the report to jump to a specific year.


Note that the 2003-04 date carries a * flag. The ORR did not provide estimates for 2003-04 and so estimates for this year were calculated as the average of the years to either side.

How online mapping software is helping Welsh Assembly Members and their support staff access statistics about their local areas

How Aragon Health Sciences Institute is driving innovation and improvement in health services with the help of an interactive atlas of variation in healthcare


The Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud (Aragon Health Sciences Institute) is responsible for research and knowledge management in Biomedicine and Health Sciences for the public health system in Aragon. Its purpose is to help drive innovation and improvement in health services through knowledge management.

Which project initially sparked your interest in data visualization?

We were working on an atlas of variation in medical practice in the national health system based on the academic work behind the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Our aim was to map unwarranted variation in medical practice.

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Is the Snowman population in decline?


With global warming high on the international political agenda, mapping software has for the first time been used to reveal the state of health of the global population of snowmen. The new atlas shows how global warming has had an impact on numbers and population health.

According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, average temperatures have climbed 0.8 degree Celsius around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades. The 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. 2014 ranks as the warmest on record and the Arctic is feeling the effects the most. Average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia have risen at twice the global average, according to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004.

A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of the InstantAtlas team.

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Improving access to demographic and population health data in Nevada with online interactive mapping software

I attended the Esri International User’s Conference and saw a presentation by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on its atlas. I have been collecting health data since 2004 and it has been a long-held objective to create an online version. However, the cost of and or programming a website was more involvement than I wanted and InstantAtlas seemed like a reasonably-priced solution.

How East Sussex County Council has improved the analysis of deprivation within by adding a new atlas to its East Sussex in Figures website

We spoke to Tim Carpenter East Sussex in Figures (ESiF) Co-ordinator, Research and Information at the council about the latest developments.


East Sussex in Figures is a website providing the latest statistics on the social, economic and demographic character of East Sussex and its communities. The team at East Sussex County Council has been using InstantAtlas for several years and recently created a new atlas that allows users to call up areas of deprivation within the county and to interpret the data in a geo-spatial way. We spoke to Tim Carpenter East Sussex in Figures (ESiF) Co-ordinator, Research and Information at the council about the latest developments.

Why did you create the new atlas?

It started with a presentation that we did to the members of the chief executive’s department about Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMDs). The indices are used widely to analyse patterns of deprivation and to identify areas that would benefit from and are eligible for special initiatives or programmes. They are key to releasing funding for projects, from road schemes to new playground equipment and are useful for everyone from parish councils to county councils. In the past, bespoke reports and research on deprivation were carried out as and when required using ArcGIS. So we decided to create a new atlas to provide users with tools to carry out their own research without requiring specific GIS knowledge or skills.

What does the new atlas show?

It gives a much more realistic picture of deprivation and also gives a sense of geographical space for the users. The challenge we have in East Sussex is that it is mainly a rural county with a low population density away from the coast and so any visual analysis by Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) alone will not give a representative image of deprivation in the county.

The detail provided by the background mapping makes identifying neighbourhoods much more effective without removing the visual impact of the standard deprivation yellow to blue colour scheme. Users can map each domain and the filters allow user to look at specific geographical areas within the county (districts and parishes etc.) and create a custom deprivation profile for this area.

Who is using the atlas?

We get many queries on deprivation from councillors, colleagues, third sector organisations and residents asking us to tell them about levels of deprivation in the areas they live, or are responsible for. The addition of a Google interface allows them to search by postcodes or street names and so it really does give them the picture they can understand. In addition, users can filter according to their specific geographical areas or responsibility and create a bespoke deprivation profile. Beforehand this process would have taken around 30 minutes using ArcGIS and would have been a one off process each time a profile was required.  It is a great example of a reusable, multi-functional easy to use geographical evidence base.

Giving members of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine access to workforce information using interactive mapping software

Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine and InstantAtlas

The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) is the professional organisation for physicists, clinical and biomedical engineers and technologists working in medicine and biology.

The IPEM’s Workforce Intelligence Unit was set up to give it a credible voice in policy development, the training and education of physicists, engineers and associated services working in all areas of medicine and healthcare. As a leading centre for workforce intelligence the IPEM is able to map demographic, health and services information, across the four countries of the UK, and overlay workforce information. We spoke to Jemimah Eve, Project Officer, about mapping software and how it is being used to meet IPEM’s objectives.

When did you first come across InstantAtlas?

I saw Public Health England’s Atlas of Variation and realised it was a good way to get information into the hands of people who don’t have a detailed knowledge of html or GiS systems…

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