A Short History of Onomap

Onomap is a software tool for the classification of names. It was originally developed in 2006-7 during two Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, plus an ESRC ‘Impact’ grant for web-based dissemination of the geography of genealogy. Applications were extended to the virtual domain in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council project on the ‘Uncertainty of Identity’.

Early versions of the software were based upon the Worldnames database, which originally included 20 or so countries. Over the last ten years it has undergone very significant data cleaning, as well as extension to almost every country in the world.

Applications have been developed in health, business, human genetics and social media analysis, and formed the basis of a REF Impact Case Study at UCL in 2014.

We are the only official supplier of the current version of Onomap. We have no affiliation with the Columbian website Onomap.co which may have supplied a legacy version of the product that dates back to 2007.

Future Development

Development work is currently underway following a further recent ESRC-funded project, and as part of the activities of the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre and the EPSRC Urban Dynamics Lab. A new classification will be available soon.

We are the only development team that is currently working with the UK Office for National Statistics on a classification which registered users will be able to use to classify names databases. Other recent developments include utilities to infer names from Twitter user identifiers. Please click here if, in the meantime, we can help with any names classification requirements. Otherwise join our mailing list for future updates.

Previous Funding

Onomap has been developed during since 2003 through the activities of a number of grants held by UCL and directed by Professor Paul Longley;

2003 - Economic and Social Research Council: Surnames as a quantitative evidence resource for the social sciences (PI Paul Longley, with Richard Webber: RES-000-22-0400).
2004 - Economic and Social Research Council/Camden Primary Care Trust: a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to develop and utilise GIS for neighbourhood profiling and assist in targeting public health and health care delivery (PI: Paul Longley: KTP000037).
2004 - Economic and Social Research Council/Southwark Primary Care Trust: a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to develop systems to measure and monitor GP referrals and to target health promotion campaigns (PI: Paul Longley KTP000666).
2007 - Economic and Social Research Council: Business solutions for web-based dissemination of the geography of genealogy (PI Paul Longley: RES-172-25-0019).
2008 - Economic and Social Research Council: CASE linked studentship awarded to James Cheshire to develop a regional surname geography of the UK (primary supervisor Paul Longley).
2009 - Wellcome Trust: Genetics of the people of the British Isles and their faces (PI Sir Walter Bodmer, co-Is Paul Longley, P J Donnelly, T Spector, J Kittler: COLL - HDRHJGC).
2011 - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: The uncertainty of identity: linking spatiotemporal information between virtual and real worlds (PI Paul Longley: co-Is Mirco Musolesi, R Muttukrishnan: EP/J005266/1).
2014 - Economic and Social Research Council: Retail Business Datasafe (PI Paul Longley: co-Is M Batty, T Cheng, James Cheshire, T Fischer, C Lloyd, S. Mikhaylov, J Reynolds, Alex Singleton, P Williamson: ES/L011840/1).
2015 - Economic and Social Research Council: The analysis of names from the 2011 Census of Population (PI Paul Longley: co-Is James Cheshire, Alex Singleton: ES/L013800/1).
2015 - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: UK Regions Digital Research Facility (UK RDRF) (PI Alan Penn, co-Is Paul Longley, M Batty, P Treleaven, A Wilson: EP/M023583/1).

The Team

The Onomap core team consists of Paul Longley and James Cheshire (who work at University College London) and Alex Singleton (who works at the University of Liverpool). At various points they have been supported by a range of data scientists, PhD students or researchers including (at the time of writing), Jens Kandt, Oliver O’Brien and Hai Nguyen.

James Cheshire

Paul Longley

Alex Singleton

Contact Us

If you want to get in touch with us, then use the email contact below. However, if you want to be kept up-to-date and be informed when we release our updated Onomap classification then please subscribe to our email list.

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  • Email: help@Onomap.org