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How are the catchment areas (drive, walk, cycle) generated and which datasets are used?

Active Places Power uses Esri's ArcGIS Server Network Analyst software to provide dynamic catchment area analysis as part of the Catchment Report and Area Access Report.

Three network analysis models of Drive, Walk and Cycle are available, which use a combination of Ordnance Survey's OS Highways (previously Integrated Transport Network ITN) Layer, Ordnance Survey's Paths data and Sustran’s National Cycle Network

  •    - Drive:  For the driving option OS Highways data is used with road speed limits assigned articulated speed limits determined through Sport England's Facility Planning Model (FPM). This includes for example, a junction delay factor of 10% (of the total Drive Time) and an additional 90 Secs (1.5 Mins) to factor in parking delays at the start and end of each journey. This ensures a consistent calculation of drive times used within both Active Places Power and the Facility Planning Model. 

  •    - Walk:  For the walking option OS Highways is combined with Ordnance Survey's Paths data. Motorways are avoided and all traversable roads and paths are assigned a speed of 3 MPH.  

  •    - Cycle:  For the cycling option OS Highways is combined with Ordnance Survey's Paths data and Sustran’s National Cycle Network.  A speed of 10mph is used on OS Highways roads (with motorways being excluded), 8mph on OS Path paths that overlay National Cycle Network off-road sections where cycling is permitted and 3mph on paths where it is assumed cycling is not permitted but to allow for connectivity.  The cycle speeds are based on the London Cycling Design Standard and in consultation with British Cycling and Sustrans.  


The ArcGIS Server Network Analyst extension computes catchment areas (isochrones) around any location on the network whether this be an existing facility or a new user defined location.  The service area will encompass all accessible streets that are within a specified impedance. For example, the 5-minute catchment area for a point on a network includes all the streets that can be reached within five minutes from that point.  A service area for a given point is simply the polygon areas defined by specific time limit breaks (i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20 , 25, 30, and 35 minutes).

The resulting isochrones are then intersected with profile data (point in polygon) to create the required report information. For example, population centroids within each catchment area are selected and aggregated to provide a total population count.

 For details on how access analysis outputs are generated please see the FAQ:  How does the access analysis report determine accessibility of sport facilities for a defined population?

Update:  May 2020

As of 6th May 2020, Ordnance Survey Highways data is used in the Active Places Power website. This dataset is more refined than ITN, with considerable additions and updates of roads and paths in the UK.  

When users execute the Catchment and Area Access functions, the results they see may be different from previous model runs. The difference is manifested by the fact that the OS Highways dataset is a new schema and geometry refinement of the previous legacy ITN dataset. The Active Places transport network analysis model, which uses OS Highways to create the dynamic routing solutions, is now also built by the new Esri UK Data Loader module. It has a more precise tolerance level and introduces the Z coordinate capabilities for traditionally X and Y based coordinate storage for the polylines representing roads. Turn restrictions are also consolidated.  

A typical catchment analysis involves trimming the outer edge polygon to provide a more cartographically simplified view, a typical tolerance of 100 metres was common when using ITN to avoid spikes and jagged edges.  The same trimming level in the OS Highways provides a more refined and precise relationship to roads, as seen in Figure 1 below. Trimming level tolerance calculation is largely based on the precision, bounding extent and vertex density of the underlying geometry. Due to the fact that the OS Highways dataset is bigger and has more precision and a more refined coordinate storage the 100-metre tolerance does not look like that of the ITN legacy model.  

Comparison outputs between ITN (left image) and OS Highways (right image) are provided in the below links:

Road catchment output

 Road catchment output

Path catchment output

 Path catchment output

Additional information

OS MasterMap Highways Network: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-government/products/mastermap-highways

OS MasterMap Highways Network Paths: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-government/products/mastermap-highways-path

London Cycling Design Standard: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/lcds-chapter6-signsandmarkings.pdf p15-16

Esri Network Analyst: https://www.esri.com/en-us/arcgis/products/arcgis-network-analyst/overview