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Government announces Public Sector Geospatial Agreement


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Government has announced that unique property reference numbers (UPRNs) and unique street reference numbers (USRNs) are to become the core addressing identifiers for the public sector.

The Geospatial Commission has announced they are also to become available under the Open Government Licence.

It is part of a new 10-year Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) to be delivered by national mapping agency Ordnance Survey.

The moves will have implications for using geographic data in the planning and management of public services.

The Open Standards Board has mandated that UPRNs and USRNs should be used by government in referencing and sharing information about properties and streets. The statement highlighted the potential to use the data for a range of purposes, including fraud detection, setting out waste collection routes and facilitating property sales.

UPRNs and USRNs are created by local authorities and managed nationally by GeoPlace, a joint venture between Ordnance Survey and the Local Government Association, and can be used to link a wide variety of datasets. The announcement follows a long term effort by the organisations to formalise the use of the identifiers in the public sector.

Simple but powerful

GeoPlace managing director Nick Chapallaz described UPRNs and USRNs as “an incredibly simple but powerful way of linking address and street data across many services”.

He added: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to supporting the wider public use of definitive address and street information. With this new government mandate, we can transform the way services are provided, resulting in better outcomes thanks to greater accuracy and immediate data sharing and matching.”

Under the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement the data will become free to re-use for any public sector bodies that sign up through Ordnance Survey.

It also lays the ground for businesses to have access, free up to a threshold, to Ordnance Survey MasterMap data through a series of APIs from 1 July.

Director of the Geospatial Commission Thalia Baldwin said: “The new agreement meets our commitment to improve access to Ordnance Survey’s core data to start-ups, businesses and innovators.

“It means that the public and private sectors will have improved access to the accurate and detailed mapping data they rely on today to support even more innovative, efficient and effective delivery of public services.”

Proptech boost

Minister of Housing Christopher Pinches emphasised the significance for the property tech sector.

“This is the most powerful boost for the UK proptech sector in a generation, unlocking new levels of digital innovation on a national scale,” he said. “Open identifiers are crucial for tech entrepreneurs and wider industry – they will enable housing developers to find sites that have the most potential, helping deliver much needed new homes across the country.

“This is an important milestone in the Government’s commitment to maximising the value of geospatial data.”

Image from GeoPlace

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