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).
One of the joys of working for OS is that you get asked to give authoritative answers to all sorts of geographic questions. ‘Classic’ questions such as how long is the coastline of Great Britain? often crop up. Which, if you read our recent blog on which English county has the longest coastline, you’ll know isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. Often, seemingly simple questions have no definitive solution. For me that doesn’t matter. The joy comes from thinking through the problem to come up with the best answer possible.
The coastline question reminded me of a problem I tried to tackle myself last year. Listening to a news story on the radio, it described “27 million households across the country”. Over the next 48 hours the story was repeated across a broad selection of media outlets and every time the same statistic came up. After mulling on this for a while I decided I didn’t like this number. It’s too imprecise. So, I decided to delve a little further and try and work out a more accurate number for myself.
If you haven’t used or heard of it before, AddressBase is a family of three addressing products we’ve offered since 2011. These products provide the most comprehensive and definitive source of spatial addressing information for England, Scotland and Wales, amounting to over 41 million records.
The products are made up of numerous authoritative sources, all collated and compiled by GeoPlace, a partnership between Ordnance Survey and the Local Government Association.
The task of compiling these data sources and creating a product every six weeks is not to be underestimated, but during 2015 the Location Analytics Product team at OS began to question the possibilities of extending the address content coverage.
A short while ago, my wife received two seemingly identical catalogues in the post from a well-known online fashion retailer. Both were addressed to our home, but the catalogues differed in two respects. Firstly, one was labelled using her maiden surname, whilst the other used her married surname. The second difference was more interesting. The first catalogue promised a 30% reduction on all merchandise – as a loyal customer reward. The second catalogue promised a 20% reduction. This told me two important things: (1) my wife clearly spends more with this retailer since we married; (2) the retailer in question has no Master Data Management (MDM) strategy for addresses.
MDM refers to everything an organisation does to manage the critical data of the organisation, the goal being to provide a single version of the truth. In this article, I’ll explore why MDM is necessary for addresses and how it can be implemented.
Guest blog by Chris Chambers, Senior Product Manager
You might not know it, but Ordnance Survey’s legacy address products have been used in providing many services to you over the last 18 years. Be it the supply of council services such as waste collection, getting emergency vehicles to your location, supply of utility services, or getting a more accurate home insurance premium – many of these have been using Ordnance Survey’s ADDRESS-POINT, OS MasterMap Address Layer or OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 products.
Today’s guest blog is from Chris Chambers, our Address Portfolio Manager at Ordnance Survey.
Our AddressBase team has recently carried out detailed analysis of the 38,418,837 addresses in the AddressBase product suite to identify ‘postally addressable’ records. This work was based on our customers’ requirement to identify all properties within the AddressBase products that have the potential to receive mail, not solely the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF) data contained within.
Guest post by Miranda Sharp, Head of Commercial Business, Ordnance Survey
The industry and the Government have been working tirelessly over the past 24 months to agree the replacement for the Statement of Principles that allows affordable flood cover for all. However, now the Water Bill has received Royal Ascent; the real hard work is about to begin on Flood Re as the enabling legislation is in place. The Flood Re scheme will allow owners of flood-prone homes to buy affordable insurance, where annual premiums will be capped and payouts for flood damage will come from a central pool of money. Homeowners will continue to buy home insurance in the normal way through insurers or brokers, but their insurers may choose to include their homes into the scheme.
The industry, politicians and the media have been discussing some of the exclusions at length, including the Association of British Insurers (ABI) putting a case for the inclusion Council Tax Band H properties. In light of this discussion, Ordnance Survey, in conjunction with POST have commissioned a report find out where concerns with Flood Re lie. The research asked a range of experts across the insurance market along with 120 professionals for their views on Flood Re.
Today’s guest blog comes from Tony Bracey from the Joint Emergency Services Group (JESG) Wales, and talks about the achievements and challenges around using a single, accurate and sustainable property dataset as the basis for information exchange across the public sector.
Recently whilst preparing for the GeoPlace National Conference, I recalled a meeting back in 2011, with colleagues gallantly trying to persuade a number of us ‘civil servants’ that using the unique property reference number (UPRN) was the best possible way to achieve consistency across local government information sets and how it could be useful more widely across the public sector. As you would expect in a meeting between local and central government, the conversation turned to the requirement for a vision statement.
Those who know me well are acutely aware of my very short attention span (not much greater than a goldfish!) and I blurted out, to the consternation of my colleagues “you want a Vision Statement, how about; ‘Create one version of the truth through a single, accurate and sustainable property dataset, for use as the basis for information exchange across the public sector in Wales”.
Chris Chambers, our AddressBase Product Manager gives us an update on how AddressBase is being used, two and a half years on from its launch.
Address data has always been important for the public sector and commercial companies. The vision and value of a single spatial addressing infrastructure that underpins key service provision and enables better location data collaboration is starting to deliver results for all our customers.