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UKHSA - supporting the UK Health Security Agency in the response to Covid-19

3 Aug 2022
Ordnance Survey
OS OpenDataPublic sectorUsing GI and maps
covid-19UPRNaddressbasehighwayspublic healthPSGA

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is dedicated to protecting the nation from health threats (chemical, biological, radiological) as well as responding to and mitigating the effects of infectious diseases. Understandably, the outbreak of Covid-19 caused UKHSA (formerly Public Health England) new challenges while they worked to help protect the nation.

A significant element in fighting Covid-19 involved tracking patient cases, and accurately locating them to better assess how the virus was spreading. James Lewis, head of the UKHSA’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Data Analytics & Surveillance team, said: “OS data was critical for us to do our job. Without using OS AddressBase, we couldn’t have responded in the way that we did. No other dataset could allow us to easily see each property classification for each Covid case.”

Through the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) the UKHSA accessed a range of OS products and services, including AddressBase and the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN), to support their response plans.

The UKHSA implemented the UPRN to specify exact locations of Covid-19 cases, and through that, the type of property. This insight helped create new reports which could be shared with health protection teams, such as how many cases appeared in specific residential types – including care homes and prisons.


Precise locations, made possible by OS AddressBase and the UPRN, helped the UKHSA determine where to deliver Covid-19 test kits. The UKHSA also used the OS Highways dataset to understand and plot locations for potential test sites; then, assess patient accessibility to their nearest site.

Their collaboration with OS has helped to inform emergency responses, and the UKHSA’s use of these datasets will help inform its work regarding all hazards to protect the nation moving forward.

You can find out more about the PSGA at The Public Sector Geospatial Agreement

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
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