By Dean Paulley & James Terry
Product Managers, OS AddressBase & OS Points of Interest
Accessing information quickly is the norm. As individuals, we can find the closest bank and supermarket at our fingertips, but what about those responsible for allocating resources in a crisis like the current pandemic? How can they find key information quickly?
Here we outline how features in Ordnance Survey’s location data can provide critical information fast but also, by incorporating a simple principle, we show how datasets can be much easier to share. And this data is free, at the point of use, to the public sector, and anyone working on the government’s response to Covid-19.
Over the last few weeks, two key OS datasets are providing an understanding of important sites and critical assets like the location of care homes, supermarkets, hard standing services, pharmacies and more. These datasets are OS AddressBase and Points of Interest.
Having a master address list within your organisation is important because it improves accuracy, speed of response and the level of information you can derive. An address list should be linked to a unique identifier, and in the UK the single most important location identifier is the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN).
Addressing data enables data analysis such as indicative population estimates, location of key assets and understanding where vulnerable people are located. Using accurate address information alongside your own internal data, it’s possible to perform critical tasks such as working out areas where more isolated people may require more support. It’s also helping analyse 999 calls to improve emergency response times and model demand.
Points of Interest (POI) data provides another level of information helping users to extract and identify key infrastructure like hospitals and doctors' surgeries, essential services like supermarkets and chemists, hotels, banks and businesses, as well as playgrounds, parks and outdoor spaces for sport and exercise.
The data includes more than four million features, with identifiers to allow matching to other OS datasets including AddressBase, OS MasterMap Topography Layer and OS MasterMap Highways Network, to make them easier to share and combine – which enables more data analysis and faster decisions to be made.
For example, POI data has been used in combination with AddressBase to identify all shops allowed to remain open during the current lockdown – ranging from supermarkets and newsagents to pharmacies and cycle shops. This not only provides information to the vulnerable about proximity of essential services but also helps police manage their resources more effectively. POI data can also be combined with OS MasterMap Sites Layer to locate hotels close to hospitals to provide additional beds when hospitals are full. POI is identifying and locating care homes across Britain too, to support critical care and the distribution of medicine and food for more vulnerable sections of our society.
All of this data can be accessed, free at the point of use, to support Covid-19 responses until September 2020. To find out more visit our Covid-19 pages. You can also learn about our Mapping for Emergencies support services available 24 hours, 365 days of the year.
Learn more in our webinar on Wednesday 13th May - 'How AddressBase and Points of Interest can help your Covid-19 response' - by registering here.