Guide to using the data tool

Welcome to the Centre for Cities data tool.

The tool has been created to allow you to explore data about the UK’s 63 largest cities and towns. All the cities in the tool are measured by their Primary Urban Area, more information on those and how they are defined can be found here.

The majority of the data in the main Data Tool is taken from Centre for Cities’ flagship annual Cities Outlook report which provides an economic healthcheck of the UKs largest cities and towns. The data offers a way to measure the economic growth of a city using key indicators such as population, business and employment. The majority of the data is updated annually in January, but some sets, for example the demographics data, is drawn from the Census and is only measured every 10 years.

Additional data tools

You can also find separate data tools specific to Centre for Cities research projects. These tools will not be updated anually, but relate to certain pieces of research:

The European Cities Data Tool is a slightly different tool but many of the below options apply. It captures data from 330 cities across 17 European countries, and so is slightly redesigned for this end. In the european tool maps are not available, and the indicators are not categorised but simply listed. You can select indicators using a tick box, but many of the other options shown below apply.

The UKCES Employer Skills Survey Tool captures data from the UKCES Employer Skills Survey at a city level. This  tool uses only static data, so time series and change data mentioned in the guide below will not be available.

The 10 Years of Tax Tool is related to our report of the same name and captures data for economy taxes generated from 2004/05 to 2014/15. This data tool does not offer bubble charts as they are not appropriate to the data. However it includes a new chart type – stacked bar charts.


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On the data tool, the map, bar chart and time series options allow you to compare the performance of cities against a single indicator, whereas the table and scatter and bubble chart options allow you to look at two or more indicators. You can export an image of any chart you create, and share unique links through social media, or you can embed a fully interactive version in your website or blog.

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Selecting indicators and heat maps

To generate a visualisation, you first need to select an indicator using the menu on the right-hand side of the page. You’ll see that the indicators are grouped under a short list of thematic headings; so, for example, ‘Housing Stock’ can be found under ‘Housing’.

Once you’ve found the indicator you’re interested in, you need to select a time period – this can be a single year (or month for some indicators), or you can look at the change between two dates.

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Then you hit ‘Apply’ and the tool will create a heatmap. For any given indicator, the map data will be divided into quintiles.

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When you hover over a city on the map, its name and its score against the indicator appears just below the map key.

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And when you click on a city, the name and score remain shown on the left-hand side of the screen. You can highlight up to seven cities on the map in this way. Simply click on the city again to remove it from the highlighted list.

You can also control which cities appear on the map using the list on the bottom of the page. Cities can be removed from and added to the map using the tickboxes. The tool recalculates the ranges each time a city is removed or added.

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Or you can clear the whole list and then select the cities in a particular country or region, or show only the cities with the highest or lowest scores against an indicator.

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Cities can also be highlighted on the map by clicking on the city’s name in this list.

If you’d like to change data shown on the map, you can edit the existing indicator, choosing a new time period.

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Or you can simply choose a new indicator.

Creating bar charts

If you’d like to see this – or any other data – as a bar chart, simply click on the relevant tab at the top of the page.

As with the map, you can highlight cities to see their exact score against the indicator and you can remove them from the chart using the tickboxes in the list of cities below.

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You can expand and contract the width of the bars to fit more cities on your screen. You can also control the orientation of the chart and the order in which the cities are listed.

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 Creating time series charts

The time series charts allow you to track cities’ performance from year to year, or month to month, depending on which indicator you are looking at. To do this you must select a start date and end date before hitting ‘Apply’.

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This kind of chart can be very data heavy, so the tool may need some time to generate them. A rotating Centre for Cities logo shows you that the tool is working hard to crunch the numbers.

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Creating scatter and bubble charts

Scatter and bubble charts help you to look for possible correlations between cities’ performance against two or three different indicators. To generate these, you simply select the indicators as normal – two indicators in the case of the scatter chart.

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You can hover over highlight a point in the chart to see which city it refers to and how that city performed on the two indicators and you can click on multiple points to compare the data for a number of cities. You can also remove cities from the chart using an option in the tooltip as well as the tickboxes in the cities list under the chart.

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The tool redraws the chart at the most appropriate scale each time a city is removed or added.

And you can switch the axes using the up and down arrows symbol between the two indicators on the right.

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To generate a bubble chart, you need to select a third indicator.

The first indicator then determines the size of the points in the chart (this is also shown on the top left of the screen), whereas the second and third indicators position the points on the x and y axes. You can reorder the indicators so that any of them determines the size of the bubble.

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Creating tables

With tables, you can select any number of different indicators in the normal way.

You can order the table by ascending or descending order of the values in any of the columns by clicking on the up and down arrows in the top cell of the relevant column.

25. Table - arrow view

Sharing your visualisations

You can download the data you are using to a CSV file, and share any visualisation you create using the menu on the bottom right hand side of the page.



You can paste a shortlink directly to Twitter or Facebook, download an image or embed a fully interactive version of your chart onto your website or blog.

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New for the 10 Years of Tax Data Tool – Stacked bar charts

The stacked bar chart is at the moment available only on the 10 years of tax data tool and should only be used for groups of indicators within a theme.

Choose two or more indicators in the same way as you would with tables, scatters and bubbles above, but for best results use this chart type to compare within one set of indicators only – you will not be allowed to choose indicators which are not the same data type.

You can order your stacked bar chart by the first indicator of the stack, arrange your stacks using the sorting buttons as described in previous chart types to find the indicator you wish to order by.

Your feedback

At the minute, the tool is in its BETA phase, which means we are still ironing out final bugs and issues. We also hope to continue developing and evolving the tool in the future, so all your comments and feedback is important to us.

If you spot any bugs, or have any comments – negative or positive – or if you have suggestions for the development of the tool, please send them to Rita Beden on