Consumer genomics company Ancestry has launched an update for its AncestryDNA Communities experience. Contrary to many commercial DNA sites, the new update specifies UK users’ genetic ancestry to a county level.

Communities lets users not only see a more detailed and accurate description of their heritage, but also learn more about their ancestors through cross-referencing of historical records to potentially give information about home addresses, schools attended by ancestors and places of work.

Ancestry currently has around 225 Communities relating to the UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The technology is based on macro-international analysis of data from the last 300 years.

The 55 new Communities will be added to the results of existing AncestryDNA customers, with no changes to existing ethnicity results.

This move by Ancestry is a positive one for users of consumer genetic companies, which can only alleviate one of the main criticisms often levelled at such organisations: a lack of detail and accuracy in heritage. Receiving results about specific areas of a country, sometimes down to the town itself – and particularly when combined with the wealth of primary source historic documents and records available to Ancestry users – will help make these sites more than just a unique Christmas gift and provide something more scientific, accurate and useful – not only to users and (in some cases) law enforcement but to scientists as well.