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The Vital Role of Data for Scotland’s Towns

In the evolving landscape of our towns and cities, data is the unsung hero, guiding placemakers toward success. 

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), tasked with revitalising commercial areas and fostering community growth are frequently urged to embrace a ‘data-driven’ approach for achieving success. But what does this entail? And how much work is it?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons why data is indispensable for BIDs , how it shapes every decision and action, and how to improve your systems and processes.

Why Data Matters for BIDs:

  1. Winning the Ballot Every 5 Years: BIDs face a crucial test every half-decade – the ballot. Winning the support of businesses and property owners hinges on demonstrating the tangible benefits they bring to the community, and data is their strongest ally in this endeavour.
  2. Tracking businesses: Maintaining accurate records of all businesses within their BID footprint is a fundamental task for BIDs. These businesses are essentially customers, and the levy, the primary revenue stream. Data management tools help them track hereditaments, property rateable values, liable parties, occupancy, and ensure precise billing and collections.
  3. Recording impact. Every BID must combat the question ‘what’s the BID ever done for me?’. Ensuring activities are recorded against each business ensures a BID can capture the overall impact of the BID to individual members and across the BID area. 
  4. Evaluating Initiatives: Every initiative undertaken by a BID, whether it’s a marketing campaign or a public realm improvement project, must be tracked and evaluated for its impact. This data allows BIDs to measure success and adjust strategies accordingly.

The Core Competency of Place Makers:

For place makers and BID managers, the ability to capture, analyse and take action on data is a core-competency and key area for professional development. As an operating methodology, being ‘data-driven’ means:

  1. Fostering a data culture: Creating a mindset of continuous improvement where all team members understand the importance of data and value the time they put into collection, recording and communication of good data.
  2. Informed Decision-Making: Data empowers placemakers to make informed decisions about resource allocation, project prioritisation, and community engagement strategies. Remove guesswork and use your limited resources effectively.
  3. Transparency and Accountability: In an age where transparency and accountability are paramount, data serves as the currency of trust. Placemakers can use data to demonstrate the value they bring to stakeholders and justify their actions.
  4. Building Trust with Stakeholders: Clear, concise, and evidence-based reporting is essential for fostering trust with stakeholders, from property owners to local government officials. Data-driven reports showcase the impact of placemaking efforts and encourage continued support.

Tools for Data Management:

Once equipped with the right tools, being ‘data-driven’ shouldn’t feel like a chore. The right systems should save you time and help you make better, more informed decisions. Look for:

  1. Specialised databases: Utilise robust database systems to keep track of businesses, liable parties, occupancy, contact information, and other vital information. Where possible use systems specialised to handling place data. 
  2. Analytics Platforms: Invest in analytics tools that enable BIDs to analyse trends, measure the effectiveness of initiatives, and identify areas for improvement.
  3. Reporting Software: Implement reporting software to generate clear and concise reports that communicate the impact of placemaking efforts to stakeholders effectively.

Vicinity is the database, CRM and reporting system trusted by over 100 BIDs across the country to manage your BID, capture your value and report on your great work. Vicinity’s systems hold the data for over 51,000 businesses and over £6bn of rateable value. 


In conclusion, data management is not just a task for BIDs and placemakers – it’s a core competency that defines their success. By harnessing the power of data, BIDs can transform blighted areas into vibrant communities, while placemakers can build trust and accountability with stakeholders. As towns and cities continue to evolve, the importance of data will only grow, but the right tools should help you, and not hinder you.

Contact Vicinity at for an evaluation of your data processes and find out how they can support you.