HSL are experts in modelling the population potentially
at risk from some form of hazard, whether man-made or
Our expertise is built around the National Population Database
(NPD), a dataset that enables HSL to estimate the number of
residents, workers, vulnerable people and other population types in
any location in Great Britain.
These populations have been geocoded to an individual building
in the majority of cases, making the NPD unique in that it can be
used for local scale analysis, but has a national coverage.
HSL provides demographic advice to the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE). Initially, this was to support HSE's Hazardous
Installations Directorate (HID) in assessing the risk to society
posed by major hazard sites such as chemical works and oil
HSL was required to estimate the number of people in individual
buildings in the vicinity of such sites, and in 2004 this led to
the development of the NPD.
HSL worked with Staffordshire University to create a
Geographical Information System (GIS) dataset that combines
locational information from providers such as the Ordnance Survey
with population information about those locations, mainly sourced
from Government statistics.
HSL maintains the NPD in-house and has developed sophisticated
'address matching' software which allows disparate datasets to be
joined together by comparing and analysing address information.
Recognising that the NPD is an asset that can be used for many
purposes, HSL has worked both with private and public sector
organisations including the Environment Agency, Ministry of
Defence, Public Health England and the Radioactive Incident
Monitoring Network (RIMNET).
Typical uses of the data provided are for risk assessment and
emergency preparedness. Of particular interest to HSE, for
example, are 'sensitive' populations - e.g. schools and hospitals -
where people may be more vulnerable to harm and potentially harder
to evacuate in an emergency.
A Northern Ireland dataset was also created in 2013 although
this is not maintained.
What data is available?
The NPD is split into 5 themes, most being further
How often is the National Population Database
Typically, two layers are updated each quarter, with the
entire NPD being updated over a two year cycle. The
residential layer is updated annually. The current
update schedule is as follows:
Schools and Colleges
Workplaces and Roads
Residential and Prisons
Care Homes and Hospitals
Workplaces and Stadia
Residential and Caravan and Campsites
Gaining access to the NPD and getting further help
Anyone can buy an extract of the NPD or the whole dataset, as
long as the data will be used in a health and safety context.
A fee is payable for access because the NPD is not created using
data collected routinely by HSL or HSE, and contains third party
intellectual property as well as our own.
Public sector organisations that are members of the Public
Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), or contractors working on behalf
of a PSMA member, can access the data for a reduced price as no
royalties will be due to the Ordnance Survey or Royal Mail.
HSL's NPD Team can also provide expert consultancy should you
require a more bespoke solution.
Please contact the NPD
Team if you would like to discuss gaining access to the
dataset. A sample can be requested via the 'Request a sample'
Request a sample