Having generated interactive mapping tools at Electoral Division level on the 31st of July, AIRO has expanded the CSO Census 2011 mapping toolkit to include data using the latest Small Areas boundary set.  In total 130 maps and 975 variables are available across 15 themes.

Small Area boundaries (created by the National Centre of Geocomputation at NUI Maynooth for Ordnance Survey Ireland) are considerably smaller than Electoral Divisions and offer a significantly better level of detail in terms of analysing data spatially. There are approximately 18,488 Small Area units in comparison to 3,409 Electoral Divisions. A Small Area boundary is usually comprised of approximately 80-100 households per unit and have an average size of 3.5km2. In comparison, an Electoral Division can has an average size of over 20km2. When analysing data spatially at Electoral Division level much of the detail is lost across the larger boundary area. With the Small Areas data, the user is now in a position to analyse data that in certain areas can be viewed at housing estate level.

Compare the two maps in the image below. They both contain the same data (% Population Unemployed 2011) but one is mapped at Electoral Division level and the other at Small Area. Note the increase level of detail and the differing distributions across the Dublin area. The increased level of detail allows users to identify trends and patterns in local areas that previously would have been overlooked.


How to explore Census 2011 data at Small Areas Level:

On the AIRO site go to the Census mapping module section and select the “Local Authority Module”. Choose which local authority you wish to analyse and within the map window use the “Data” button to select what Census data you wish to view and the “Change Geography” button to select Electoral Division or Small Area level geography.

Aoife Dowling and Eoghan McCarthy



The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the small area population statistics (SAPS) from the 2011 census. For the first time users will now have access to the full set of census variables at the Electoral Division (ED) and new Small Area (SA) level across Ireland. Over the last couple of weeks the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO) has been working closely with the CSO to provide the public with a new set of mapping tools that will allow users take full advantage of the incredible amount of census data now available. This is a major step forward for evidence informed planning in Ireland and users (general public, public sector and private sector) now have access to a free and fully interactive set of on-line tools to get a better understanding of areas and regions across the country. Through AIRO we have developed a National Census Mapping Viewer and a set of individual census mapping tools for every Local and Regional Authority in the country. To get access to the main AIRO census home page use the following link: http://www.airo.ie/mapping-module/census

National Census Mapping Viewer

On the National Census Mapping Viewer (airomaps.nuim.ie/census2011) we have prepared maps for over 130 variables and have grouped them into the following 14 themes: Population, Religion, Nationality, Education, Social Class, Principal Economic Status, Industry of Employment, Occupation, Housing, Cars per Households, Transport, Communications, Health and Disability. For this mapping tool we are using ArcGIS Viewer for Flex from ESRI, a really useful mapping technology when you are dealing with a very large number of geographical boundaries (3,406 EDs and approx 18k SAs). At present we have just included the mapping at electoral division (ED) level on the national viewer, this will be updated with the full set of small area (SA) data in the coming weeks. We have, however, added unemployment data at SA level for today’s launch and so is the first time that we actually see the full scale of the unemployment problem at the very local level.

To use the tool users simply turn on a theme on the left hand panel and then ‘check’ the map of interest. Remember that you can only show one map at a time with the top checked layer being the one on display – it might take a few moments to get the hang of it but it’s fairly straight forward. To get more information about an area just click on an ED and a pop-up window will provide a very short and basic commentary and a graphic providing more information on the variable. Let’s have a look at some examples:

% Population Aged > 65 plus: This map provides a useful visualization of the distribution of the elderly population across Ireland. As expected we are seeing much higher proportions of elderly population within EDs in rural and peripheral parts of the country.

% population UK by Nationality: The nationality data available at the ED and SA level is broken down into six groupings, users can choose from Irish, UK, Polish, Lithuanian, Other EU 27 or Rest of the World. Each map provides interesting trends and certainly shows some fascinating patterns within urban areas. The map below details the distribution of those whose nationality is classed as UK. What’s striking about this map is the clear pattern of high percentages in south-west cork, north-east Clare/south Galway and a wider area of higher percentages in the Roscommon/Leitrim/Mayo area.

% of Households with Central Heating powered by Peat: There are more than 25 different variables within the housing theme on our national viewer. Maps are available on:

  • type of housing unit (detached, semi-d, flat/apartment etc)
  • age of housing unit (only 2000 to 2005 and post 2006 included at the moment – let us know if you’d like more)
  • tenure (owner occupied, rented etc)
  • type of water supply (group scheme, private scheme etc)
  • type of sewage system (public scheme, individual septic tank etc)
  • and type of fuel used for central heating system.

This last category provides some really interesting maps and shows very clear patterns throughout the country for particular types of fuel. The map below shows the distribution of households that use Peat (including turf) as the primary source of fuel for central heating systems with higher proportions in the midlands and along the western seaboard and then an almost complete absence of use in much of the rest of the country.

Local and Regional Authority Mapping Modules:

As part of the AIRO project and our growing infrastructure of free mapping tools we have now updated all of our Local Authority and Regional Authority mapping modules with the 2011 Census data for Electoral Divisions. The data within each mapping tool mimic the themes that are available for download from the CSO. In total, each mapping module now has 975 individual variables (raw counts and pre calculated percentages and ratios) and includes data from 2006 where possible. Over the next week we will start to build in the Small Area data for each LA/RA, all going well this will be done by Thursday 9th of August. We are also hoping to update all of the mapping modules for Local Partnerships but this may take some time.

To access the mapping modules go to the main AIRO census page (click here) and choose from the drop down list for either LA or RA. Just click View once you’ve made your selection. Once it’s loaded you simply just click on ‘data’ and choose your indicator and away you go.

We hope you enjoy the new tools and they prove to be useful for the work that you do. We’re happy to take comments and suggestions on additional datasets that should also be included. We’re also planning to run a number of training sessions in the coming weeks and months, again please get in touch if you or your organisation are interested.

For further information please contact AIRO at the following: email – airo@nuim.ie, phone – 353 1 7086688


AIRO National Census Mapping Viewer: airomaps.nuim.ie/census2011

Local and Regional Authority Mapping Modules: http://www.airo.ie/mapping-module/census

CSO SAPSMap data download site: http://census.cso.ie/sapmap

Justin Gleeson & Aoife Dowling

At present Live Register data are only available at the scale of the 120 or so social welfare offices.  These areas, which have no defined boundaries, whilst telling the story of Live Register at a sub-county scale are quite large in size, and mask the complex patterns of claimants on the ground.  As any local knows, not all places in an area are equally affected by the recession, with some neighbourhoods being disproportionally hit by job losses.  As studies in the UK and elsewhere demonstrate, where data can be mapped at the postcode level, large variations can occur across just a few streets.  Such evidence is important because in a time of declining resources for intervention it is more effective to target those resources at areas of most need.

To date, maps of Live Register data are, at best, mapped at the county scale.  The three maps below, in contrast, show the unemployment rate ranked by area for Dublin mapped at Enumerator Area scale (c. 330 households) for 2008, and Live Register recipients for August 2008, and change in the number of recipients between August 08 and February 09, at the new Small Area scale (c. 100-120 households) for the Ballyfermot/Chapelizod Partnership Area.

Unemployment Dublin EA scale 2008

Live Register recipients Aug 08

Live register recipients increase Aug 08 to Feb 09

In the first map, the areas that are shaded dark brown are in the top decile for unemployment rate.  In the second map, the areas shaded red have the highest numbers of claimants.  With respect to the third map, the areas in red are those that have experienced significant increases in Live Register claimants, whereas those in dark blue show places where people up to Feb 09 have so far retained their jobs.  In general, what the map shows is that existing areas of high numbers of claimants and the areas immediately surrounding them are those areas gaining the most new claimants and that those areas with low numbers of claimants remain relatively low.  In this case, it is in parts of Ballyfermot that claimants have grown, whereas Chapelizod weathers the storm quite well, reflecting the different labour markets that their respective inhabitants are/were employed in.

The study was undertaken by NIRSA working with Ballyfermot/Chapelizod and Northside Partnerships and the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) and was published by Dublin City Council earlier in the year.  Neighbourhood maps were created for all forms of Live Register claims at the new Small Area scale.  These Small Areas, created by the National Centre for Geocomputation for Ordnance Survey Ireland, will form the micro-geography for the 2011 census.

At present the research remains a one-off pilot study, but it does highlight two things: 1) the geography of unemployment, and the recession in general, is highly uneven and is not affecting all areas equally; 2) that the evidence base for making key policy decisions would be significantly enhanced by these kinds of data.

Justin Gleeson and Rob Kitchin