Local Insight Help Centre


Create Wards in Local Insight

User Permissions note:

Only Group Admins can import shapefiles. For more detail on user roles see our user permissions guide.

The quickest way to create wards in Local Insight is to download the ward boundaries from the ONS open geography portal and import these into Local Insight using the shapefile importer.

Download the wards you're interested in from the ONS Open Geography Portal:

Once on the ONS Open Geography Portal, navigate to the ward boundaries section (as illustrated below).

  1. Click Boundaries --- Administrative boundaries --- Wards / Electoral Divisions --- Choose the most recent year


Locate the latest boundary files:

There may be multiple files for the same year, you can sort by date updated to make this easier. The file that you need for Local Insight is the (BGC) Generalised (20m) - clipped to the coastline (Mean High Water mark). 

The two other files types available are:

  • (BSC) Super generalised (200m) - Areas from this file will import successfully into Local Insight but the boundaries will be oversimplified.
  • (BFE) Full resolution - extent of the realm - Areas from this file are too detailed and the Local Insight shapefile importer will time-out. 

Please note: 

The Local Insight shapefile importer is rather like Goldilocks. The BSC shapefiles are too simple, the BFE shapefiles are too detailed and the BGC files are just right! You can see the file type in the description preview and click on the file name to open the file.


Filter the file: 

Now, you need to filter the file to only show the wards you are interested in.


You must filter the file as you cannot import all wards to Local Insight. There are 8,483 wards in the UK. Attempting to import all those areas will make the site performance unmanageable.

  1. When viewing the file on Map view - Click on the filter icon.
  2. You can then filter by different attributes. For example, ward name (WD21NM) or ward code (WD21CD).
  3. Select the attribute you want to filter by.
  4. Use the search box to find the wards that you want.
  5. Select the wards you wish to filter.


Download your filtered selection:

Once you have filtered the file to only select the wards that you are interested in, you need to download that filtered selection. 

  1. Click on the download button to open the download options.
  2. Ensure that you turn on Toggle Filters - If you do not do this then you will download the whole unfiltered file.
  3. Download the shapefile option (It may take a few minutes to create and download the file).



Import your areas into Local Insight:

Now that you have downloaded the ward shapefiles, you can import them into Local Insight. The downloaded files are in the correct format already so no need to reformat any files.

  1. Navigate to the custom areas page by clicking Group Admin > Manage Custom Areas.
  2. Click Import Shapefile 
  3. Enter the name field. The name field identifies where the area names are located in the shapefile. It will look something like: WD21NM, you may have filtered by this attribute earlier. If you are not sure what the name field is you can locate it by opening the dbf file in Excel.
  4. Select your downloaded file. The file will download in a zip, select the whole zip file and click Import Shapefile. 


Whilst your file is importing you will see the following message. This process can take some time depending on how many areas you are importing. Do not close the tab whilst it is importing.


When your file has been imported you will see the below message. You can then click off the import box. Your areas will all be added to the 'Uncategorised' category where the areas are displayed in alphabetical order.


Once your wards have been set up as custom areas you can: