Study commissioned by Geoplace projects net benefits at up to £200 million by 2020
Local government could gain net benefits of around £86 million from better use of the address and street data that councils create and maintain, growing to £202 million in the next four years, according to a newly published study.
The results were announced at the annual conference of Geoplace, a public sector limited liability partnership between the Local Government Association and Ordnance Survey, which commissioned the research.
It examined the costs and the benefits of local authority address and street data, with input from the Local Government Association and Socitm.
“The potential for large savings – a 4:1 return on investment – is impressive. It’s the kind of number you can defend and that your senior management would be interested in,” said Andy Coote, director of ConsultingWhere, which carried out the research.
According to the study, the benefits to local authorities of better use of the data stem from a number of areas, including; reduced data duplication and integration; improved tax revenues; channel shift; and route optimisation in waste management.
The study also points to barriers to adoption, including lack of funds and other resources, software limitations and “a lack of time to look up from the coalface and to do something with the data”, said Coote.
He told conference delegates that to attain the benefits it would be vital to increase access to staff resources, take a more strategic approach and for managers to learn to quickly articulate the benefits to chief executives and chief finance officers.
Coote also said greater collaboration with national organisations such as Geoplace, public sector IT assocation Socitm and innovation charity Nesta could realise the cost benefits. He urged local government to consider EU funding initiatives – citing the examploe of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council deploying 14,500 Light Controsmart street lighting units with EU funding to save energy – and to share best practice and case studies.
“The benefits have been realised and they’re substantial – we don’t want to throw them away," he said. "The danger is that with a lack of investment, quality descends. We need to identify and spread awareness in the local authority community."
Coote highlighted the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Local Digital programme's Local Waste Management Data Standards as an examplar ripe for replication.
Further recommendations included: creating a sustained marketing campaign based on the results of the study; maintaining current staff levels; "speaking the language" of the chief executive by avoiding acronyms and jargon; and piggybacking on to existing national initiatives such as the DCLG’s Troubled Families programme.
Coote also pointed delegates towards Geoplace’s report published earlier this month, ‘Everything happens somewhere,’ which outlines local government achievements in making efficiency savings through the better use of street and address data.
The study is the first to investigate the economic value of street and address data since 2006, when a report was launched on the financial return of investment from the Local Land and Property Gazetteer by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Geoplace creates and maintains the National Address Gazetteer infrastructure and the National Street Gazetteer for England and Wales.
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