There is evidence of a clear return on investment in using unique identifiers for public sector operations, writes Zoë Britt, head of local authority engagement, GeoPlace
A new report shows that more widespread adoption and use of address and street data in local authorities is predicted to generate £384 million in savings over the period 2022-2026 – particularly through benefits derived in adult social care, education, planning, and environmental health. This represents an enhanced return on investment of approximately 6:1. What’s more – local authorities already have this at their fingertips!
Public sector organisations are obtaining considerable value from location data and identifying returns on the relevant investments.
This is especially so for Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) and Unique Street Reference Numbers (USRNs), the prime identifiers for addressable locations and streets in Great Britain.
But it is not universal. With many organisations slow to adopt their use and others not yet sure how they can obtain the full value, there is a need for a better understanding of the potential return on investment from location data.
This emerged as a key issue during the recent GeoPlace annual conference, with a session on data in public services and the presentation of an analysis of the RoI, commissioned by GeoPlace and conducted by location strategy consultants ConsultingWhere.
Savings and societal benefits
The RoI report shows that there is evidence of impressive savings from using location data. Investment in national address and street data has generated savings of £253 million with an RoI of 4:1 in England and Wales between 2017-21, derived from reduced data duplication, increased system integration, improved tax revenues, web delivery of customer services and route optimisation in waste management.
It adds that wider adoption could raise the savings to £384 million over 2022-26, with an RoI of 6:1. This would lead to a 10-year benefit over 2017-26 of £636 million with an RoI of 5:1, and the return could be even higher for individual local authorities.
This is impressive, but future gains cannot be taken for granted. Claire Holloway, head of corporate services and company secretary for the Local Government Association, warned in the conference session that some local authorities, especially in two and three-tier areas, are not maximising the benefits of adding UPRNs to their service data.
The LGA has previously emphasised that UPRNs are key to almost everything that’s delivered or achieved by councils.
Everything that local government does happens somewhere, be it housing a homeless person, collecting someone's bin or providing support to a family in difficulty. Precise location information is essential for councils to deliver services to the residents they serve. Using UPRNs enables disparate data sets and innovative applications of data to be blended to provide insight and understanding about residents and businesses, which is needed to deliver area based services effectively on the ground.
The conference session made clear it is also time to spread awareness of the value of location data. Catherine Howe, chief executive of Adur and Worthing Councils, said it is critical to highlight this within local authorities, showing the benefits and raising the profile of problem-solving capabilities to gain some traction then following up quickly when this produces some benefits.
This is exactly what the new study does. Adding UPRNs and USRNs to records can provide quick, easy wins. For example, with the UPRN in place, it is easier to confirm that a more vulnerable family receiving social care is also benefiting from the right council tax benefits, or that commercial buildings are paying the right amount of business rates.
Howe added that it the value to decision makers needs to be communicated and is more likely to succeed when there is widespread data literacy in the workforce.
New resources from the LGA and GeoPlace
With her advice in mind, GeoPlace and the LGA have put together a three-step process to help local authorities discover their RoI:
- Talk to your local address/street custodian. The LGA’s ‘Find my local address and street custodian’ tool shows you who your custodian is. https://www.local.gov.uk/uprn-find-my-local-address-and-street-custodian.
- Find out how well integrated your authority already is:
- Request your free integration report from GeoPlace;
- Use GeoPlace’s free UPRN integration tool to see which service areas should benefit from more-effective use of location data.
- Make sure your procurement of new systems supports UPRN integration by using GeoPlace’s new tool for the commissioning and purchase of new local authority systems’ software.
Additionally, GeoPlace can talk to authorities on a one-to-one basis to help understand the potential ROI for their authority. Contact What is the ROI for my authority for more information.
GeoPlace will be at the LGA conference in Harrogate, talking to attendees on the return on investment they can receive from address and street data, as well as demonstrating other tools that local councillors can use to support case work.
See the RoI report and the conference session summary on the GeoPlace website at www.geoplace.co.uk/roi. Get in touch and find out how your authority can benefit from the data you already own. It won’t cost you a penny.