Management > Open Data

Ordnance Survey commits to open data address sharing

Neil Merrett Published 20 February 2015

UPRN details will be provided on royalty free basis to support public sector service innovation, while UK meets with other countries to share open data progress


Ordnance Survey (OS) will begin providing location data in the form of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) on a royalty free basis in a move designed to support open data agendas at a central and local government level.

Alongside GeoPlace and the Improvement Service, OS said it will now allow customers using the AddressBase location intelligence products to share the information with the public and private sectors in order to openly encourage innovation and service development.

Similar to a National Insurance number for an individual, or an ISBN reference assigned to all published books, the UPRN identifies an individual UK spatial address that can be used to link multiple information data sets about specific properties in Britain.

"The number remains consistent through a property's lifecycle, from planning permission to demolition, and is found within Ordnance Survey's AddressBase products," said an OS statement.

"The UPRN is already used by organisations to link multiple datasets together and to reduce errors in data exchange between each other. For example, a local authority and utility company can continue to hold their own address information in existing formats, but by adding a single field for the UPRN, then can easily link matching records in their disparate databases together."

OS strategy director John Carpenter said the release by AddressBase customers of the address identifiers was expected to support improved data sharing and collaborations between organisations.

The development of a mechanism to electronically information between public service organisations using UPRN as a common identifier by the Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales in conjunction with the Cabinet Office, Welsh government and unitary authorities was given as an example of possible initiatives available to authorities.
Councillor Peter Fleming, current chairman of the Local Government Association's (LGA) Improvement and Innovation Board, said the decision by OS to open up UPRNs would extend the potential benefits of linking data between services.

"Local authorities first identified the value of using UPRNs to link information from various services such as social care needs, schools admissions, council tax, benefits, planning and waste collection and have saved the sector over £75 million over the last 10 years," he said.

This week's URPN announcement coincides with the publication of by the Open Data Institute (ODI) of its second annual report and a white paper outlining recommendations for policy makers to try and encourage more sustainable sources for transparent, free to use information.

The document outlines a series of recommendations designed to influence the ODI's work and discussions with global leaders over the next 18 months.
These measures include:

  • Provide opportunities for civil servants to take part and learn about open data use
  • Build metrics to allow for ongoing evaluation of open data activities
  • Introduce and allow for open communication and mechanisms to provide feedback on open data plans
  • Ensuring support and political leadership from government officials
  • Providing clear examples of benefits open data initiatives can provide

The ODI also announced that the UK government would be among seven members states making up the Open Data Leaders Network (ODLN) that will be meeting at its offices throughout this week to share experiences and developments around open programmes.

Related articles:

Ordnance Survey shake-up backed for open data promise

Open data: a public good

Government yet to commit to open contract standard

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