London is a city of vast social divides, where the same areas host bankers with booming property values and scores of homeless people – yet it can often be hard to get your head around the statistics.
That’s why a team from the University of Oxford has today launched a new website for Britain, LondonMapper.org.uk, where images reveal at a glance where you can find the most hedgehogs, the severest obesity problems and the most aging populations across the capital.
It is the work of Professor Danny Dorling, the man who brought the extraordinarily popular World Mapper to an estimated 26 million people around the globe.
Each map, or “cartogram”, represents a difference in values between London boroughs as a difference in size – meaning Richmond upon Thames dwarfs the rest of the city in the map showing hedgehog sightings, while Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster loom large for housing value.
Professor Dorling has worked with Dr Benjamin Hennig over two years to release more than 300 maps which allow people to “see the housing bubble inflate”, but also that London is not just “the land of opportunity for all”.
He told The Observer: “Our aim is to provide unbiased information about London's social, environmental and economic issues.
“These maps are like fancy pie charts, and if something is twice the size of something else it is obvious. We just want to spark a debate about the differences in one big city.”
In the same place people can see that Westminster, with its huge boom in house prices and large number of people with second homes abroad for work, also dominates London when it comes to homelessness.
The data show that 140 rough sleepers are believed to be living in the borough. Barking and Dagenham and Sutton, which Government figures suggest have no homeless people at all, disappear from that map completely.
Mubin Haq, from the Trust for London charity which helped fund the London Mapper project, said: “London is very different,” Haq said. “There are huge differences compared with the rest of the country but there are just as significant disparities within London. Lots of people in London aren't sharing in the wealth we see in the property-value map.
“The homelessness map is interesting. Where have we seen the greatest increase in sales value in housing? One of the boroughs that stands out is Westminster. But where have we got the largest number of homeless people? That very same borough.”
Professor Dorling said the project started in London because we have more quality data in Britain than “anywhere else” in the world, but that he would look to roll it out to other capitals and a worldwide public better able to understand abstract maps and graphs than ever before.
“We can do things now for the public that we would have shown only in a university hall 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.
For information on London’s restaurants, pubs and cinemas, see the maps under the ‘local’ tab on londonlive.co.uk