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).
All year around, Britain’s emergency responders need to be ready to deal with crises and disruptive events –from natural disasters to deliberate attacks. The emergency response community can access a secure information-sharing platform called ResilienceDirect, which is underpinned by OS location data through the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA).
At this time of year, the weather can make natural disasters more likely. Following the extreme weather of December 2015, the government set up the National Flood Resilience Review to assess how the country can be better protected from future flooding.
The Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) is a collective agreement between OS and the government. Its licence lets public sector organisations in England and Wales access and share OS digital mapping. With the news this week that our Public Sector Mapping Agreement now has over 4,000 members, we went back through the archives to find out first member, Cambridgeshire County Council. Denis Payne at CCC tells us why they were so keen to be involved and how GI has benefited them over the last five years.
CCC became the first member of the PSMA, why do you think that was?
We signed up straight away in April 2011, for us it was a no-brainer. The PSMA is a collective agreement that covers all government, is free at the point of use, gives access to all of the OS data we need and has the scope to work with contractors, other Local Government members and Central Government/Public Sector departments as we need. I think most councils got involved pretty quickly.
Rugby is in the forefront of many fans minds at the moment with the Six Nations Championship well underway. It’s following just months after the hugely successful Rugby World Cup 2015 which was hosted by England, and an event at which we at OS can claim to have had a hand in its safe and secure running.
Events like the Rugby World Cup 2015, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking place in Great Britain, require a huge amount of contingency planning by our security services and the Government (UK and Devolved), often starting years ahead of the events themselves. Through our Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), we provide a consistent national framework of geospatial data for the public sector. The analytical capability of our data means our Government customers can combine it with their own data and integrate it into event specific products and solutions to make a real difference to their work.
With over 4,000 Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) members, we see a huge range of uses for OS data in the public sector, making efficiency and cost savings. We’re also aware of a wide range of geographic information systems (GIS) being used by members to manage their geodata needs. One of our PSMA members, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, migrated to using open source GIS in 2015 and has found significant efficiencies in staff time, cost savings and an increase in the number of departments using OS data.
Why was an open source GIS solution needed?
With over 4,500 Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) members, we see a huge range of uses for OS data in the public sector, making efficiency and cost savings. One of our PSMA members, Harrow Council, recently won a prestigious MJ award ‘Innovation in Channel Shift’ for their MyHarrow website, which uses OS maps.
This month we’ve reached an important milestone as over 3000 new members have now joined the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA). The latest members are all local councils, with Stourton, Tasley, Kingston and Devon & Horsington Parish Council joining the thousands of other public sector members.
We’re now three and a half years into the 10-year agreement between government and Ordnance Survey which allows public sector bodies in England and Wales to use our datasets. We’ve already seen the PSMA helping the public sector to improve service delivery in areas such as planning, transportation management, and education services making them more efficient and effective. As well as central government departments including local authorities, health organisations and ambulance trusts can all benefit. Public sector bodies in Scotland have a very similar agreement in the One Scotland Mapping Agreement.
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”.
We’ve recently added four new videos to our YouTube channel to help our Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) customers get the most out of our data. We now have over 3,000 customers signed up to the PSMA and many more organisations still eligible to sign-up.
Gaining access to our data can help organisations to deal with a wide range of challenges and make use of geographic and location data across a range of applications – and share information between organisations. Our first video looks at the application process and what steps you need to take to become a member.