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New services add extra value to UPRNs

19/07/21

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GeoPlace has developed resources to build on the success of using unique property reference numbers in the pandemic response, writes Zoë Britt, head of local authority engagement

Digital points on cityscapeUnique property reference numbers have proved their value more than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic, providing a key asset for joining up the efforts of health and social care.

Working with the Local Government Association, two new initiatives have been launched to increase that value and encourage wider usage among local authorities and other bodies.

UPRNs are unique numbers for each address in Great Britain, allocated by local authorities and managed nationally by GeoPlace, a joint venture between Ordnance Survey and the Local Government Association (LGA).

During the pandemic they have played a crucial role in the co-ordination of health and social care efforts to identify and support vulnerable people, providing a feature to link datasets and target resources at people and communities at risk of infection or neglect.

This provides the focus of a GeoPlace report on the role of UPRNs in care, looking at how they were used by local authorities in their responses to the pandemic, encouraged by the opening up of licence terms of the identifiers.

It includes seven case studies from the councils for Barnsley, Durham, Leeds, Mole Valley, Sedgemoor, Sheffield and Worcestershire, and provides lessons on how to use UPRNs to the most beneficial effect.

Software requirement

Among them is to ensure that core software systems used in each service area are integrated with the UPRN so it is held at source. This means it will be inherently present in every reference to a property and that, depending on the system used, can be included in all extracts and refreshes of the data. This speeds up the linking of datasets and targeting of support.

The report identifies challenges in their usage, such as the need for more UPRN matched data from central government, and shortcomings in relevant experience among local authorities. But the learnings from the seven councils will help to address the latter problem and the report provides a resource for building a strong understanding of how best to use the identifiers.

It also includes basic guidance on the return on investment and a UPRN integration checklist with key action points for service areas.

While the pandemic has highlighted the importance of the identifiers to health and social care, they have a wide range of uses in areas such as revenues and benefits, planning, electoral services, and planning for public safety and environmental measures. Now GeoPlace and the LGA have made new resources available to support organisations in their use.

Assessment for services

One is an integration assessment service for service managers in local authorities. It takes less than three minutes to complete, asking questions about the role of address data and the UPRN in the service area and system used for its delivery.

Once the assessment is complete it provides an approximate grading on a scale of one to four of how well the system and UPRN have been integrated and the ability to facilitate data linking for wider purposes. It then provides, on screen and via email, recommendations on how to improve integration and highlights areas that need work to improve the capability.

Improving UPRN integration, both within and between local authority service areas and systems, strengthens the capability to link data and generate valuable insights, and provides a foundation for empirically based and evidence led decisions on services – in response to local and national initiatives.

The second tool is a ‘Find my custodian’ service, helping local government and fire service officers to establish who in a specific authority is responsible for creating and maintaining addresses and UPRNs. These individuals can help to identify UPRNs relevant to an existing caseload, and provide guidance on how to utilise the UPRN with maximum effect.

The service is open to anyone from an English or Welsh council or fire authority. They simply submit their council or fire service email address to receive information on who is the custodian for their area.

It also complements the guidance for custodians provided by GeoPlace on its website.

LGA support

The LGA has also published a website guide for councils on the use of UPRNs. It includes an explanation of what they are, a description of the work of local custodians, advice on how to make better use of UPRNs, a section on their role in the pandemic response, and the case studies collected for the GeoPlace report.

Overall, this is an important selection of resources for harnessing the full value of UPRNs. All the signs are that, as the demand increases for better insights and a stronger integration of local services, the importance of high quality location data will continue to grow. Unique property reference numbers provide a foundation for taking your organisation’s use of the data to a new level and building better services for citizens.

Image from iStock, 4X-image

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