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May 6, 2015

Learn about where you live

When a plan is criticised for being drawn up on the ‘back of a fag packet’ it’s usually when things have started to go badly wrong and when it’s clear that decisions have been made without any serious attempt to gather the evidence on which to base them. While 20:20 hindsight will never be available to those who try to plan for the future, a really clever gizmo has just been launched by Scotland’s Towns Partnership and a host of others that could make a big difference. Check out whether your community is all you think it is.



A consortium, made up of the Carnegie UK Trust, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the University of Stirling, has unveiled the UK’s first online tool to help understand the facts, figures and interrelationships that underpin all Scotland’s towns and cities.

The launch, which took place last week in Musselburgh saw Margaret Burgess, Minister for Housing and Welfare, ’switch-on’ the new online tool.

Understanding Scottish Places (USP) answers a pressing need for better quality information to inform important decisions about how communities are organised and funded. It brings together 36,000 different pieces of data about places and people in Scotland into one online, visual, searchable database.

From today, anyone can access a full suite of information about any of 479 Scottish communities digitally – and compare that information with any other place across the country.

The launch of the new tool comes on the back of an Ipsos MORI survey carried out in March by the Carnegie UK Trust, leaders of the USP consortium, which encouragingly revealed that the majority (54%) of Scots value the services available in their local communities. Many of those questioned recognised the way in which places in Scotland are inter-related and rely on each other for different facilities and services, something that is explored further in USP. Almost 40% revealed that they travel to access the services they require.

Margaret Burgess, Minister for Housing and Welfare said: “We believe that USP is a powerful asset for people working across the country to design better strategies for their communities – whether they are in council, town partnerships or BIDs, traders associations, businesses or community groups.

“USP is a great resource, ideally positioned to help local people see how their area is working for them and be inspired to get involved in revitalising their towns. It is just one of a suite of measures that the Scottish Government is backing to help to deliver the Town Centre Action Plan. We hope that this platform will encourage communities to look across to other towns with similar characteristics and start to share more of their success stories.”

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, joined Margaret Burgess for today’s switch-on, and said: “USP is a valuable tool for all of those invested in making our town’s better places to live. It recognises that different places have different needs, and require different services and resources. It explores the way in which each place has a unique identity and this is how we need to think about places when we design services, invest, and innovate. For the first time, the platform looks at the levels of interdependency between communities, to give us a more sophisticated and constructive picture of how our places work together.

“In the coming months, we will be consulting further across the whole country, to see what needs to be added to this platform to deepen that understanding and grow the sophistication of the data we can offer.”

The platform has been designed and built by the Carnegie UK Trust, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the University of Stirling. It is available now at Co-funded by Carnegie UK and the Scottish Government, it is a practical output of the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Action Plan initiative.