ONS at ‘National Hack the Government’ #NHTG14


We are really quite excited here in the ONS Digital Publishing team about our involvement in this years ‘National Hack the Government‘ event that Rewired State organise.

Now for those that don’t know this event isn’t some dubious gathering of ‘ne’er do wells’ looking to cause online mischief it is;

“..an annual hack day run by Rewired State. As well as bringing great people together to have a fun hacking and building things, we hope to improve transparency, open data and relationships between the Government and active hacking citizens. We do this by holding a competitive event for creating prototypes and building ingenious (and occasionally tongue-in-cheek ) projects that help improve state services or use open UK government data.”

Clearly the ONS generates data, in fact we don’t really do much of anything else! The vast majority of it is available under the Open Government License and we encourage reuse (see Illustreets for a nice example of our data in action). The problem, we know, is that it isn’t always easy to find what you want so we’ve put this quick post together to point at a few of our data sources (you can also grab as many spreadsheets as you can cope with from the site itself.)

Over the weekend we have some staff dotted around in London and hopefully at the Bournemouth centre and will be keeping an eye on the various social media channels to help out where we can.

Key economic time series data

Quick access to the current and historical data for ONS key economic time series and economic indicators available as CSV including;

– Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
– Inflation
– Labour Market
– Balance of Payments
– Public Sector Finances
– Consumer spending
– Retail Sales




This is made up of data from the 2011 Census. Documentation and several example applications area supplied, though some popular platforms are not covered (due to not being used in ONS and thus us not having anyone with experience to write examples).

RESTful design, output formats are SDMX and JSON (JSON-stat in next version) plus CSV and XLS for generated downloads. API Key required via registration (but it is pretty lightweight).

Downloads page: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/data/web/explorer

ONS Open Geography


No explicit API documentation or examples (but there is a simple one on the OpenAPI pages), however the portal does have the dual human / machine concept where you can find what you want on the site then get the URL to return that response in the machine-readable format of your choice (e.g. https://geoportal.statistics.gov.uk/geoportal/rest/find/document?searchText=parliamentary%20constituencies&start=1&max=10&f=pjson&dojo.preventCache=1393408074306 )
RESTful – output formats JSON, HTML, RSS, ATOM, FRAGMENT, KML,, CSV. No authentication required.

ONS Geography also have a linked data portal http://statistics.data.gov.uk/

The ONS Geography team also have a Twitter account at @onsgeography

NeSS Data Exchange


The pioneer ONS web service launched in 2008. Provides access to the vast NeSS database and its geographic functions. Originally developed as a SOAP service later modified so it can be called like a REST service with simple HTTP GETs, but it is not RESTful in the Roy Fielding definition. Supports LGDX, SDMX, and RDF output. LGDX is a simple XML schema for monovariate data developed by CLG for their “hub”. Optional registration (no authentication). 10,000 cell limit, mainly because it does constitutions on-the-fly.

Downloads page: http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/Download1.do?&nsjs=true&nsck=false&nssvg=false&nswid=1140



Provides access to NOMIS (which is official labour market statistics) data via a RESTful service. Similar design to the OpenAPI (based on 2009 document designing URI sets from the public sector) and has quite a few “bonus” features such as Google datatables and KML output. Output formats are XML, JSON, CSV, HTML. Registration optional – you get higher cell limit if authenticated. NOMIS data explorer has function to “capture” the API URL for your current selection.