New Northern Ireland census data available

New census data

Last week saw the second release of census data by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). The 100th Annual Report of the Registrar General was also released.

The census release includes key univariate statistics for

  • housing and accommodation
  • national identity
  • language
  • age and sex
  • country of birth
  • passports held
  • ethnicity
  • religion

The statistics have been released for two geographic levels:

  • Northern Ireland
  • 11 local government districts

Later releases will deal with multivariate data, exploring answers on more than one variable.

NISRA’s release also include finalised, unrounded estimates for population and household statistics. Alongside this, NISRA has made available statistical bulletins and other documents that accompany this release.


The data released last week follow on from the Northern Ireland headline figures released in May. Similar headline figures were also released for England and Wales in July.


And a new look for our Census bulk download tool

The newly released data, as a bundled file and individual files for the topics released, can be downloaded from our bulk download tool, along with all UK census data from 1971 through to earlier releases of 2021 data. You may notice a few changes to how this platform looks.

Whilst the changes will mainly be aesthetic, some significant and important work has been going on behind the scenes to make sure that the site is secure and future-proofed for everyone who makes use of the data and for those who work behind the scenes to update and improve the user experience.

I asked my colleagues Chris Daly, Paul Chau and Cameron Hurst, who have developed the update, to explain why the changes have been made and what it will mean for users now and in the future.

Why the change?

We’re always aiming to improve the functionality, usability and stability of our platform for all our users. As the software that was used to underpin the previous version of our bulk upload tool (called DKAN) was no longer being actively developed, we took the opportunity to update the tool.

This led the UK Data Service census team to conduct a wide-ranging review of similar platforms that the service could be migrated to. The chosen platform was CKAN.


CKAN (Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network), as the name might suggest, is related to DKAN. It is the root software that DKAN was built on. This meant that the transfer was relatively pain-free as much of the same functionality exists in CKAN as it does in DKAN.

CKAN, unlike DKAN, is still regularly developed and supported, and there is an active and extensive community of users which means that issues and additionally functionality can be flagged and fixed more effectively. For the UK Data Service team CKAN is also more accessible and easier to work with.

This means that ideas that the team have wanted to implement in the past are now more feasible and easier to do.

Also, because the team have set this up themselves and will manage it directly, we will have additional control moving forward.  This means changes and updates can be rolled out more easily on an ongoing basis, rather than in larger upgrades cycles.

I use and access census data, what does this mean for me?

The transition from DKAN to CKAN should be seamless. Other than some aesthetic changes everything should work as you have previously experienced, but with some minor changes that the team hope improve your experience.

Some examples of this include improved search functionality, filtering should be easier and more intuitive, and selected subcategories of data should display in a nicer table view.

If you access the data using an API (Application Programming Interface) or hope to build an API to interact with the CKAN site, this should be much easier than it has been in the past.

The CKAN API documentation is much easier to follow and much more accessible, making the data easier for you to access and use as you want. This also means the team can work more easily to add functionality than was previously possible.

We’d really appreciate feedback on the new site, whether it be bugs or issues found or positive changes you notice. You can contact us via this form to submit any queries.


About the author

James Lockwood is Research Impact and Engagement Manager at the UK Data Service.

You can find more about the UK Data Service training and events on our website.

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