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An open address register

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The UK government is regularly recognised for being a global leader in making public data openly available. Ministers have committed to being the most transparent government ever. We are determined to make sure that we keep producing high quality data and that we make it as accessible as possible.

What the Budget said

Last week’s Budget contained the following commitment:

The government will provide up to £5 million to develop options for an authoritative address register that is open and freely available. Making wider use of more precise address data and ensuring it is frequently updated will unlock opportunities for innovation.

Building the UK’s data infrastructure

This supports work that is already underway, across government, to improve how data is used. Data has become a part of our core national infrastructure, and a huge driver of innovation. Countries where businesses and public services have reliable access to trusted data reap similar benefits to countries that led the world with access to transport, water and sewage infrastructure in previous centuries.

Registers, canonical lists of core reference data, are at the forefront of the government’s effort. They enable a standardised way of storing and accessing data, independently of the technology platforms and digital services that use them. Government’s expectation is that over time they will form the basis of government’s data infrastructure, helping people put government data to work.

Making geospatial data even more usable

Nearly everything that happens has a link to a physical location. Address data serves a broader purpose than the delivery of post, parcels and services. It anchors everything to a specific place, and it’s often this anchor that’s used to connect other types of data together. So for a modern economy, high-quality geospatial data, linked to the addresses that people use on a day to day basis, is incredibly important.

The Budget announcement is an exciting government commitment to explore how an open address register can enable innovation, meet user needs, and deliver substantial and tangible benefits to the public and the economy by enabling new products and services.

Work ahead

GDS Data Group and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) are working in conjunction with a range of other stakeholders to explore how to fully exploit the benefits of open and freely available address data.

We know that we have a lot of work to do, and a lot of people to engage, as we move forward. We are aware of the fundamental role played by local authorities in the creation and maintenance of addresses, and the important contributions of Geoplace, Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail. We look forward to continuing these conversations over the coming months.

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  1. Comment by Enumerator posted on

    Encouraging news, but, unless a way is outlined quickly to end the inability and unwillingness of OS, Royal Mail, and others to enable a register to be freely available to, and usable by all, the announcement will merely appear a make weight in an otherwise thin section of the Budget report.

    The nature and benefits of an open national address gazetteer were set out in the report published by BIS in January 2014, but many outside the public sector still cannot afford to use good addressing information, and wasteful duplication such as plans to build a one off address register for the 2021 Census, as in 2011, continues.

    Addressing information is a national asset, created largely at taxpayer expense, too important to be obstructed by monetisation.

  2. Comment by MGB posted on

    Didn't we already own this exact information before the RM was sold off?

  3. Comment by Tim Jones (GeoBrio Consulting) posted on

    Why isn't the Government building on the already huge investment in AddressBase Premium?
    It may not be perfect but it has taken years to get to the current state. Wouldn't it be better to continue to hone it? Or is this about extending access to ABP beyond the PSMA?

  4. Comment by Mark Aldridge posted on

    I think what Rob Lee means to say is that when the Government embarks upon schemes like this to supposedly benefit the economy and people it smacks of authoritative control and appears undemocratic. It's not so much the wider availability to the public of more accurate location data that appeals to the Government. It is the accuracy of it, as this will give the Government valuable data on a person's movements over any given period of time. The question Rob Lee is asking is this : Who, in our free and liberated society that we supposedly live in, has the right to know anything about one's whereabouts? I, along with many likeminded others consider our own comings and goings, our habitats and our dwellings to be a private matter. Further, what do the Government really need this information for? Increased securtity, or increased surveillance on and unsuspecting society? Add this development to the recent law passed allowing Government to monitor an individual's internet usage, the persistence in allowing mass immigration to continue, the insistence we remain in the EU, , amongst other things, and it is clear that the Government has abandoned all democratic principles and policy. Freedom of movement and speech is slowly being oppressed as our leaders continue to turn Britain into a authoritative planned economy.

    • Replies to Mark Aldridge>

      Comment by David posted on

      Why does is smack of "authoritative control and appears undemocratic"? You are confusing a list of buildings and their sub-divisions with people. Most of this is information has been published for over a hundred years in various formats and in this format wouldn't include a reference to people at all. This isn't new information that the government is collecting, it's information that the government has always had and is just publishing. It's not linked to the points that you are raising in anyway.

  5. Comment by Rob Lee posted on

    Anyone here concerned about privacy? Some massive issues here? Would it be publicly available or limited to govt agencies? Innovation and commerce (?!!) over the individual's right to privacy?

    Are moral matters not part of GDS's remit?

    It's never too late to do the right thing.

    • Replies to Rob Lee>

      Comment by Robert Campbell posted on

      I may be missing a point here but post codes, addresses and geo-references don't contain personal information and thus the privacy issue is largely non existent

  6. Comment by Anonymous posted on

    Does this mean government will buy PAF back and make it open under OGL?

  7. Comment by chris_debian posted on

    Hopefully 'Free The Postcode' and 'Open Street Map' can add value, here.