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Celebrating Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and the role they play within HSE

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The yearly 'International Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Day' was celebrated on 15 November in 2023. The day was set up to celebrate and recognise achievements by geospatial specialists around the globe and to highlight the benefits that GIS bring.

Most people are familiar with Google Maps and having the power of geography in the palm of their hand: to find your way, the whereabouts of a specific shop or even the location of other family members! The GIS used by such applications also play a crucial role within HSE to support evidence-based decision making and help us achieve our strategic objectives.

Development of the National Population Database

The National Population Database (NPD) supports HSE's geographical risk assessment work and work for other organisations in Government and externally. The NPD is a trusted and versatile resource for geo-demographic analysis in GB and has been used to support the assessment of potential nuclear sites by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), estimate flooding risk in Met Office forecasting models, and for understanding demand for transport planning models by the Department of Transport. The team have recently won funding from the Government Office for Technology Transfer (GOTT) to improve the database and make it more accessible outside of HSE.

Management and maintenance of the geospatial data

Management and maintenance of the geospatial data is crucial to HSE's Land Use Planning system. Access to geographical data and maps showing the locations of major accident hazard pipelines, major hazard sites and explosive license locations allows evidence-based decisions to be made, supporting our role as a statutory consultee for planning applications around such locations. HSE's Geospatial team have recently developed a new browser-based mapper tool for CEMHD5 that will significantly improve the way that the Land Use Planning data can be interrogated.

Provision of geospatial data including Ordnance Survey Address and background mapping data

Use of government mapping data and official addressing standards such as Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) helps to ensure the quality of our data and aid collaboration and further analysis. Maps generated by the Geospatial Team provide vital evidence to support prosecutions and inform planning decisions.

Analysis work as part of the COVID-19 National Core Study on Transmission and Environment

Analysis by the Geospatial Team has helped in the understanding of outbreaks in workplaces through collaborations with the UK Health Security Agency, University of Manchester and the Office of National Statistics. Modelling work combined data on risk factors such as socio-demography, environment, industry and travel to estimate the risk of outbreaks at workplaces. As part of the Wear-It project, analysis of data collected from wearable devices captured the broad location of workers and their proximity in different types of workplaces allowing scientists to gain valuable insight on personal interactions at work. This is important for understanding the risks of transmission and spread of transmissible respiratory diseases in workplaces, and for planning effective targeted mitigation tactics.

Find out more

If you would like to know more about what HSE's Geospatial Team do, and how you can work with this cross-cutting team of analysts, data specialists and geographers, please get in touch via:

For more information on GIS Day there are posters and activities (suitable for all ages) available on the GIS Day website:


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