Recommendation 4

Recommendation 4: Make effective use of location-based analysis for evidence based policy making


  • Geographic differences are a fact of life and should be taken into account in policy formulation and assessing policy instruments, either in establishing an overall approach balancing geographic variations or in developing “differential” policy that specifically targets regional differences (e.g. regional development policy)
  • Location analytics and map visualisations are useful instruments to recognise hidden patterns, relationships and correlations between phenomena happening in the same place, which are not readily apparent by using generic socioeconomic and statistical analysis
  • Visualisation tools available for location information are extremely attractive and understandable by the average audience, thus providing a means for policy makers to explain the impact of their interventions to the general public


  • Use data and statistics based on underlying data as evidence to inform policy making and determine policy outcomes, including location-based data, where relevant. This location-based data may come from a variety of sources, such as sensors and mobile devices, or from mapping data/services (for example, geocoding)
  • Take account of national, regional variations or variations by other geographic characteristics (e.g. urban/rural contexts, risk exposure atmospheric pollution, noise and flooding in different locations) to establish a balanced approach when formulating EU or national policies
  • Use standardised administrative and statistical units, together with other geographically-related definitions in evidence gathering
  • Use relevant location-based evidence in ex-ante impact assessments, ongoing reporting of policy implementation, and ex-post policy evaluations of EU and national legislation
  • Use maps to “communicate the message” and make the policy analysis easy to understand, including evaluating existing data and assessing policy options
  • Combine the technologies for location-based analysis and business intelligence and analytics platforms to support extensive analysis and insight for policy makers, using location-based data as fully as possible
  • Make use of location intelligence algorithms (such as network path analysis, matrix routing, etc.) for spatial analysis and optimised resource allocation based on topological, geometrical and/or geographical properties
  • Ensure reference data semantics and standards are consistently applied, to support accurate and comprehensive assessments and help in clear decision making
  • Consider both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ evidence in informing policy. ‘Soft’ evidence could come, for example, from interviews, focus groups or social media data capture (e.g. location-based information from mobile phones)
  • Target scientific research funding towards key policy topics, giving due weight to the value of location-based research
  • Take account of the opportunities with INSPIRE for EU-wide analytical comparisons based on harmonised location-related data


  • Policy processes are complex with multiple factors involved and often gaps or inconsistencies in data and information (particularly in ex-ante stages). A holistic understanding is needed, taking account of relevant risk factors. There may be trade-offs to take into account in affected policy areas. These issues are particularly important in relation to environmental policy and related policy areas, e.g. transport, industry, energy, health
  • Simplistic extrapolations based on geography and demographics can be misleading
  • Lack of spatial literacy (e.g. the difficulty in reading a map without being guided) might hinder the immediacy of the message that policy makers want to pass on
  • Maps can be used to hide the real connections or make un-related connections, so the underlying analysis needs to be sound

Best Practices:

Further reading:

Nature of documentation: Technical report


Type of document
European Union Public License, Version 1.1 or later (EUPL) 
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