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GDS publishes guidance on property and street information


Mark Say Managing Editor

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has published new guidance on identifying property and street information, emphasising the use of unique property refence numbers (UPRNs) and unique street reference numbers (USRNs) as the core identifiers.

Raised view of street

It has also flagged up the availability of two services created by GeoPlace – the organisation that manages the reference numbers at a national level – to provide a central point for queries.

This follows the mandation of UPRNs and USRNs – which are available under the Open Government Licence free of royalties – as standards for use by central government and NHS organisations.

The GDS guidance says the standards are relevant to publishers of government data, data scientists and analysts, and developers, and reflect the BS7666 part 2 standard for working with address information.

It says the reference numbers can help to: accurately identify property and street location information; link information in different datasets; share consistent data and reduce errors when exchanging address information; and link to address and street information in Ordnance Survey (OS) products.

Among the requirements is to the confirm the identifiers are genuine using a trusted source. The document says this would be OS AddressBase for UPRNs and OS Highways or National Street Gazetteer for USRNs.

GeoPlace said the identifiers provide organisations delivering critical services with the reassurance that they are working with the most up to data and accurate information, and that this will lead to greater collaboration among services and organisations.

'Limitless' benefits

Nick Chapallaz, the organisation’s managing director, commented: “The societal and economic benefits of these simple numbers representing addresses and streets are almost limitless. To be 100% sure two parties are dealing with the same street or property can be critical. 

“Consider the impact on emergency services getting to the right place; health services pinpointing outbreaks of Covid; tax agencies combatting fraud; banks qualifying mortgage applications instantly; and utilities digging up the right road in the right place at the right time. These are all directly enabled by these identifiers, coordinates and related street and address data.”

He added: “We’re excited, not just by this announcement but by the backing and determination of government through the Geospatial Commission to realise the value of geospatial data and investing to make this happen.”  

GeoPlace – a joint venture between the Local Government Association and Ordnance Survey – has also created two services for queries on open UPRNs and USRNs and to enable people to discover the ones that apply to them.

FindMyAddress makes it possible to find official addresses, UPRNs and locations for every property in England, Scotland and Wales.  FindMyStreet, which has been funded by the Local Government Association, enables users to search for USRNs, street names and locations in England and Wales and find out the maintenance responsibility of the street.

The GDS guidance points to these as a way of confirming individual records.

Image from iStock, Chris Cook

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