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The National Population Database

HSL are experts in modelling the population potentially at risk from some form of hazard, whether man-made or natural.

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 refineries.

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 subdivided.

NPD Layers

How often is the National Population Database updated?

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:



June 2016

Transport Terminals

September 2016

Schools and Colleges

January 2017

Workplaces and Roads

March 2017

Residential and Prisons

June 2017


September 2017

Care Homes and Hospitals

January 2018

Workplaces and Stadia

March 2018

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' link below.


Research reports

Case studies

Request a sample


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