LuminoCity: FAQ and Comments

Comments and feedback on the site are very welcome. It would be useful to know any additional datasets you would like added to LuminoCity3D, collaboration ideas, comments you have on the analysis and visualisation approach, or any bugs or problems that you encounter.

You can comment at the bottom of this page, tweet @citygeographics, or email

Cartography Questions

Why is the data shown on a hexagonal grid?
Socio-economic data is gathered and typically mapped at the scale of political and administrative zones, such as wards, local authorities and electoral boundaries. These political and administrative units are important as they relate to units of decision-making. However these zones are typically of varying sizes, with irregular boundaries. This can make maps and statistics based on such zones more difficult to interpret. This is particularly important in the case of measures that are sensitive to zone size, a common spatial analysis problem known as the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP). Many urban measures such as density fall into this category of being sensitive to zone size.

The aim of transforming the data to a grid is to try and minimise these problems of varying zone sizes and make city to city comparisons easier by standardising the geography across Great Britain. Each zone has the same area of 1 square kilometre. This approach does not solve modifiable areal unit errors, but it does provide consistently sized regular zones, and also aids legibility across a wider range of scales.

This grid approach is only possible if the original source data is published at a very fine scale, smaller than the 1km2 grid. This is the case with output areas and workplace zones from the 2011 census in urban areas. However the census zones are larger in rural areas, and the grid approach is much less accurate in rural areas. The LuminoCity site is not suitable for understanding trends in small villages and rural areas, it is designed primarily for viewing maps and statistics for cities and towns. For more information on how the data is transformed see the spatial analysis page.

Why is there no data for a particular small town or village?
Related to the above question, there is a density threshold at which grid cells appear on the map. The threshold is 10 jobs&residents per hectare. Below this threshold, grid cells have been removed. The LuminoCity site is not suitable for understanding trends in small villages and rural areas, it is designed primarily for viewing maps and statistics for cities and towns.

Why are the urban area statistics aggregated by density clusters?
A density cluster approach has been chosen to present the urban area statistics as this is believed to more accurately reflect the functional area of city-regions compared to standard local authority and primary urban area approaches. Density clusters are defined as continuous areas of more than 14 jobs& residents per hectare, and over 50,000 jobs&residents in total in 2011. The density clustering approach is consistent across Great Britain.

The ideal solution would be to give the user a choice of multiple urban boundary geographies, so that the influence of the boundaries on statistical measures could be easily viewed and explored. Unfortunately this solution is time consuming to implement, and has not yet been achieved on this website. Other geographies would be interesting to explore such as Travel-to-Work areas. If you are interested in statistics by political boundaries such as local authorities, then there are many existing websites to try such as NOMIS and Neighbourhood Statistics.

How is ‘Protected Land’ defined?
Protected land is defined as National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and greenbelt land. Stricter planning controls are found at National Parks and SSSIs, so these are visualised with a double cross-hatch, and greenbelt with a single cross-hatch. Note that greenbelt data is not available for Scotland and so has not been mapped.

Data Coverage Questions

Why is Northern Ireland data missing?
Due to limited time and data availability I decided not to include Northern Ireland in this website. If there is demand to cover Northern Ireland then I will try to include NI data in future updates.

Why is Scotland data missing from some indicators?
Scotland has been slower to release census data compared to the Office for National Statistics, and much of the Scottish census data is yet to be released as of mid-2014. Also some Scottish agencies have not yet engaged with the open data paradigm to the extent than England & Wales equivalents have (e.g. Land Registry England and Wales open data has no equivalent at Land Registers Scotland). Hopefully gaps will be filled in in future updates as more data is released.

Why is the data from 2011?
Most of the data in LuminoCity3D comes from the 2011 UK Census. Surveying, gathering, cleaning and publishing this data is a huge exercise that takes several years. Subsequently the census only takes place every 10 years, and 2011 is the most up-to-date comprehensive social survey data we have at present.

How do I find the original source data?
The original source data for each map indicator is listed at the bottom-right of the screen, with a link to the data provider.

Reproducing LuminoCity3D Imagery

Please email if you would like to use LuminoCity3D imagery in a publication, as I would like to keep track of where the imagery is used. If you reproduce the imagery in a commercial publication without permission then you will be in breach of copyright.

Web Browser Issues

The LuminoCity3D site has been tested on the latest versions of Chrome, IE, Firefox and Safari, but may not function correctly on older browsers. Additionally a high resolution screen is recommended. The site does not function well on mobile devices with lower resolutions unfortunately. If you are having problems on a lower resolution screen, try minimising the Chart Overview and Map Key boxes on the bottom-left and bottom-right of the screen.

LuminoCity3D does work on tablet devices with a sufficiently high screen resolution. At present the interactive statistics are not fully functional through a touch interface, and I will try to remedy this in a future update.


5 thoughts on “LuminoCity: FAQ and Comments

  1. Great resource – I am sure there are a vast number of indicators you thought about including and not including but it is concerning there are almost no environmental indicators, bar air quality (in transport theme).

    There should be an environmental header/theme with some key measures e.g. CO2 emissions, Green space area (via land use by councils:; protected areas e.g., biodiversity (UNEP-WCMC), flood rates / risk etc….

    It would also be good to see one wellbeing indicator in the social indicators (from 2011 census). Thanks

    1. Thanks for your comments!

      I prefer to integrate environmental issues within each of the themes so that the user can make the connections between causes and consequences, although I see where you are coming from. Domestic energy use is included in the housing section, which is a clear environmental variable. I’d also argue that travel patterns in relation to walking, cycling and public transport are also indirect environmental variables.

      The method I’ve used for this website requires very fine scale data to work, down to output area preferably. So current CO2 emission data and greenspace data at local authority level are problematic to map in this way. There is about to be a new detailed release of detailed greenspace open data so I will try to include that in a couple of months.

      Flooding and biodiversity are very interesting, but I think would be a different focus and require a different mapping style. Also I believe flooding risk is still not open data.

      I’ll have a look at the wellbeing indicators as this would be very relevant.



  2. Hi Duncan,

    Fantastic stuff mate! I am at the 1st year of my PhD at the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, and came across your Luminocity Project surfing the web. Thanks for sharing your PhD thesis, it is very interesting to see how you developed your researcg methodology and conclusions. I am researching on the impact of urban form in energy and GHG footprints in Metropolitan Melbourne, and I am trying to come up with a Bottom Up Building and Transport Typology energy assessment that can be scale up to Metropolitan level. It is quite challenging but I have very good support from the university and also from CSIRO, the Australian State Research Agency. I was wondering if we can catch up someday and chat about our common interests. Cheers, Raul Marino

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