In this article, we provide the answers to common questions surrounding boundary updates, including whether or not you should update, and how Vision helps you update.
Reading time: 10 minutes
Are boundary updates automatic?
No. And here's why...
Our close relationship with franchising over more than 10 years has given us a unique perspective on this matter and we consider ourselves privileged to have the knowledge required to come up with a better process than other mapping solutions which will force updates on you and leave little time to prepare for the effects.
Franchising often involves some degree of exclusivity to an area, with well-known geography (such as Postcodes or ZIP codes) being used to define a territory which is often written into legal documents. This means that while updates happen, there is often a little more preparatory work required and updates cannot always be blindly entering into.
Instead, Vision makes new releases available to you, and then lets you prepare your organisation for the update before "pushing the button". In this way, you aren't suddenly surprised by shifting boundaries and holes appearing in your network where new areas are added, or outdated ones removed.
Should I update to the latest boundaries?
The answer to this is a resounding yes, and as soon as possible!
While we understand the implications that boundary changes can have for your business, the simple fact is those changes are now live in the real world. By not migrating, you could cause more problems in the long term as you try to work with data that becomes more out-of-date with each passing moment.
Additionally, when new boundaries are made available, our support for older releases will diminish with updates to linked demographic data only being made available for the latest release.
How does Vision's boundary update process work?
When updating to a new area boundary release, updates are applied to an entire natural geography hierarchy. Let's take a quick look at what we mean by that using the UK Postcode hierarchy.
Look at the structure of the Postcode. Postcode Areas (like PE) are made up of one or more Postcode Districts (like PE7) which, in turn, are made up of one or more Postcode Sectors (like PE7 8). This is a natural geography hierarchy and other instances include:
- USA ZIP Codes
2-digit areas are made up of one or more 5-digit areas.
- Australia & New Zealand Postcodes
2-digit areas are made up of one or more 4-digit areas.
- UK Administrative Areas
Local Authority & Unitary Districts are made up of one or more Wards, which, in turn, are made up of one or more Census Output Areas. LSOAs and MSOAs are also made up of one or more Census Output Areas.
This means that you can start the update process from any one of your base layers that have an update available, and all the other layers in that natural hierarchy, plus any layers you've created which specify a layer in that hierarchy - directly or indirectly - as their base layer will be updated at the same time.
Can I backup my boundaries before updating?
For organisations subscribed to Feature Pack 2 and above, when you update to the latest boundary release, Vision automatically creates a snapshot of each affected layer and saves a backup copy containing the pre-update boundaries. As an example, a layer called Territories updated on 25 March 2021 would have a copy created called Territories (25 Mar 2021).
For each record, we copy only:
- Unique Key
This allows you to compare the differences before and after the update. No other data is copied, including, but not limited to Demographics, Classifications, values stored against Custom Fields, and FYN settings. Additionally, backup records cannot be shared and no changes can be made to them.
These backup layers will remain in your system until you've deleted them. You will need to grant users access to the backup layers before they can see them on the map.