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With all the pressures, complications and actions brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for accurate addressing data has never been greater for the health and social care public sector.

Whether dealing with the management of Covid-19 cases, keeping vulnerable residents in communities safe, or maintaining day-to-day health and social care services, there is so much to be done to provide the British population with the care it needs at this time.

But how can geospatial data help with those ambitions?

Health care professionals in the public sector need complete and consistent datasets that show which people they need to contact, and which addresses those people live at.

Ordnance Survey’s accurate addressing data contains Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs), and these are already playing a role in helping health and social care workers plan and target their services more effectively.

"Knowing precisely where patients live and who they have been in contact with is incredibly important during a pandemic. The OS Places API has been providing the NHS with accurate addressing information along with a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) for every address. Sharing the UPRNs between organisations has proven to be an effective way of combining insights to help target interventions where they are needed most."
Iain Goodwin, Strategic Development Manager for Health & Social Care

The story so far

For many years now OS data has supported projects across the public sector that focused on improving health and social care issues.

In Somerset, OS data provided critical evidence that kept stroke services open at both Yeovil and Taunton hospitals. Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group investigated whether stroke services for the county’s population should be centralised at Taunton. OS data helped produce maps and reports that provided complex information on travel times and potential implications on patients. The study confirmed closing services at Yeovil hospital would have fewer clinical benefits than anticipated and that increased travel times would have a critical impact on the speed of treatment for many stroke patients.

In north west London, Harrow Council used OS MasterMap data to optimise its routes when serving residents with Special Needs Transport. Improving these bus routes has saved the authority £270,000 a year, reduced the number of vehicles it uses and agency staff it needs to hire, and cut back on fuel costs and carbon emissions.

In Birmingham, the city’s public health team used OS data to tackle a childhood obesity crisis and slow the spread of unhealthy fast food outlets near schools. The team produced a map showing the numbers of fast-food takeaway restaurants located near schools across the city. This easy to share data visualisation gave headteachers and planning departments the data to oppose new fast food outlets opening near schools, preventing almost half of new takeaway planning applications from being granted permission.

In Scotland, NHS Lothian have been working with OS data during the Covid-19 pandemic to support patients who’ve had kidney transplants or have chronic kidney disease to access safe and accessible locations for a mobile team to take blood samples. This meant they could monitor patients’ health safely and easily, away from the busy hospital.

OS Data Hub – the next step

OS is keen that location data continues to play a critical role in tackling health and social care challenges.

Under the terms of the Geospatial Commission’s Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA), public sector developers and the private sector now have greater access and easier usability to OS’s premium geospatial data than ever before via the OS Data Hub.

From January 11 a new suite of APIs will be available for the public sector to access and use for free to support their many projects.

These APIs will simplify and make it far easier to extract premium OS data for whichever project you are working on that would benefit from it.

OS Product Manager Charley Glynn said: “We have made a range of new APIs available to help the public sector that would be particularly useful for health and social care.

“If you need to map the locations of patients in relation to treatment centres and health clinic, then you can use the OS Places API for detailed address data.

“Plus you can use our OS Linked Identifiers API which can join datasets to our accurate location data via unique identifiers such as the UPRN.

“Or if you’re planning patient transport care, then consider working with the OS Features API as it contains the Highways data you’d need.

“Whatever product it is that you think would benefit from incorporating premium data, we’d love it for you to get in touch to see how we can help.”

To find out more what OS APIs can do for you, visit the OS Data Hub.