SHAPE Community update

Achyut Ratkanthiwar, SHAPE’s Data and Information Analyst, is here to give an update on the SHAPE Community.

Last year we asked for regular SHAPE users to volunteer to join our SHAPE Community, giving feedback and testing products ahead of roll-out, and enabling us to gain a deeper understanding of what SHAPE users want from the software.

Thirty of you are now part of the new SHAPE Community, and we had a really useful feedback session at the end of last year, where you asked questions and made suggestions for how we can make SHAPE even better.

Thanks so much to everyone who got involved – there were some interesting points we can take away to work on, and we really value your support in helping us improve SHAPE. Here are some of the things that were discussed:

Adding your own data

If you have your own data you’d like to add to a map, you can do this through SHAPE Local. This gives you a private, confidential workspace within SHAPE, which not only has all the national data already in SHAPE, but can also include your own data uploads and development time to create bespoke functionality. Costs vary depending on exactly how much development time is needed, but creating your own SHAPE can save you so much time, and make your data much more relevant for what you need it for. A good example of a recent project in SHAPE Local is how West Yorkshire ICB used SHAPE Local to support their community pharmacy services. If you’d like to explore using SHAPE Local for your own bespoke data project, please get in touch.

Improving SHAPE’s speed

SHAPE is free to use across the public sector, and tens of thousands of people have signed up over the years, so occasionally if lots of people are accessing the platform at once, downloading large amounts of data, it can cause speeds to slow down. We’re currently working on plans to optimise SHAPE’s performance.


SHAPE Community members told us that some of them conduct their own training for new SHAPE users. This is great to hear that you’re spreading the word and helping others! Don’t forget, we host monthly free online training sessions for all SHAPE users, so whether you have someone who’s new to SHAPE, or you just want to brush up on your skills, you can sign up via your SHAPE home page. The training sessions are popular, though, and do get full, so please make sure you book in advance, and let us know if you won’t be able to make it so we can release your place for someone else.

You can also find lots of information to help you in the SHAPE resource centre – access it when you’re logged in to SHAPE, there’s a link on the home page, or access it direct here if you have a SHAPE account.


One point our community members raised was on inaccurate boundaries, or situations where something has changed – for example, a GP has moved to a different PCN. We receive our data such as ICB boundaries from NHS England, and although we reload data from them every couple of weeks, if there’s an inaccuracy or a change it can sometimes take a few months for the amend to be made in the source data, so it can take a while to show up in SHAPE. In some cases, we can amend the data manually, so if you do see any inaccuracies, drop us a line at, and we can either correct it in SHAPE, or point you in the direction of the team who can amend it in the source data.

User added locations

A couple of people asked if we could include the ability to add new locations to SHAPE. Good news, you can already do that by adding a User Added Location.

Sharing and reusing maps

Another subject raised was on the subject of being able to share maps. Some of you put loads of work into creating exactly the map you want, but then recreate it each time you want to find that data. But this isn’t necessary – there’s an easy way to save your map. The link in your browser changes every time you add something new. So when you’ve got your map to the stage you want it, simply save the URL from your browser, and you’ll be able to return to the map. The link doesn’t expire, so even if it’s a map you only use annually, you can come back to it a year later and it’ll still be available. Just don’t forget where you saved the link! Links can also be used if you want to share your map with a colleague – as long as they’ve got access to SHAPE, simply send them the link and they can view your map.

Here’s a video to show you how.

A huge thanks to everyone who’s been involved with the SHAPE Community so far. If you’re interested in joining, drop us a line at