Analysing access to greenspaces during a pandemic

3 minute read
A recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that one in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown. ONS used our map data to work towards their conclusions, one of many organisations who have contacted us for assistance during the pandemic.

Our Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service supports the resilience community and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year giving quick access to reactive geospatial support at any time. ONS put in a request for data to help understand how access to greenspace and outdoor gardens may impact Covid infections and to highlight areas with limited outdoor access.

Private greenspaces

To help ONS with their request our Data Science and Analytics team got to work. Data Scientist Steve Kingston created experimental private outdoor space insights for almost 29 million residential address records in our AddressBase Plus product. The statistics were derived through the geospatial analysis of OS addressing data in conjunction with large scale topographic data. The insights were at property level by Unique Reference Property Number (UPRN), and model the property type of residential dwellings, and the presence and total area of any private outdoor spaces.

Public greenspaces

Alongside Steve’s work, Data Scientist Charis Doidge created insights into the distribution of public greenspaces in relation to postcodes. This would help ONS to understand the distance households needed to travel to reach an open greenspace. The data analysis calculated the nearest greenspace, the area of the greenspace, the count of greenspaces in a 1000m radius, and the total area of greenspaces in each radius. The analysis included the public park & garden and playfield categories (over 33,000 sites across Great Britain) from our OS Open Greenspace product and the 2.3 million postcodes were derived from the ONS product NSPL.

Once the teams had worked on the datasets needed to analyse the impact of access to greenspaces, ONS could then combined it with other datasets, including from Natural England to create their report. They also compared the data by demographics and found a range of facts, including:

  • Older people – at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and advised to stay at home as much as possible – are among those most likely to have access to a garden. Just 8% of people aged 65 years and over are without access to any kind of private outdoor space.
  • More than a quarter of people (28%) in Great Britain live within a five-minute walk (300m as the crow flies) of a public park, while 72% live fewer than 15 minutes away (900m).
  • The median garden size for a house in London is 140 square metres, just over half the size of a tennis court. This compares with 188 square metres across Great Britain and 226 square metres in Scotland (the largest).

Read the full report from ONS.

Loading Twitter post

This project was part of our MfE response, but we regularly work with ONS under our memorandum of understanding. Find out more about another project where we’ve worked together:

The geography of Britain’s High Streets

Read the report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

ONS used OS map data for greenspace analysis during the pandemic

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey

Our highly accurate geospatial data and printed maps help individuals, governments and companies to understand the world, both in Britain and overseas.