Day

November 7, 2017

7
Nov
2017
1

Unique geographic keys – linking people to places

By Iain Goodwin, OS Relationship Manager across all government sectors 

At a time when there’s an appetite for making better use of data to improve services, I’ve been thinking…

If we recognise the value of the output (a map as an evidence base to underpin decision making), what can be done to improve the input (the data)?

The answer, I believe, is unique geographic keys.

Data visualisation is absolutely crucial in helping public sector organisations work smarter and underpinning policy making. It helps to make sense of population characteristics, understand the needs of communities, and target resources effectively.

Examples of individual unique keys are scattered across the public sector: Healthcare has the NHS Number. HMRC has the National Insurance Number. The DVLA links us to our vehicle registrations with a Unique Driver Licence Number. But these organisations are concerned with their own characteristics. So, how can departments ensure these unique keys describe the same people?

The answer is to link them to the unique geographic keys that describe places. And in most cases, this will be property. Unlike unique keys for citizens, there is one version of the truth for property – the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN). Read More