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Location information paving the way
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The Improvement Service is pleased to announce the launch of new open data services and products in support of the new UK Geospatial Strategy.

The Geospatial Strategy is the first output from the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) which was launched in April 2020.

This has paved the way for the release of datasets available under open terms, including the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and the Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) - identifiers which represent an address or street in Scotland’s official address register, the One Scotland Gazetteer (osg.scot).

This information is available from the 1 July 2020.

Why is this important?

We use location data in our lives every day. It helps us understand the relationship between events and where they take place. The new Geospatial Strategy puts location at the centre of all aspects of life and considers how we can improve access to location information and how it can be used to drive innovation.

The Strategy recognises the UPRN and the USRN as fundamental bedrocks of data management which will help achieve its aims.

The UPRN – open, authoritative and widespread

The recognition of the value of the UPRN and USRN has been made possible by two recent developments:

  1. The Improvement Service, working in partnership with GeoPlace, Ordnance Survey and the Geospatial Commission, has facilitated the release of the USRN and the UPRN as open identifiers – making them freely usable by anyone for any purpose.
  2. The Improvement Service has ensured that these identifiers are not only accessible, but authoritative and reliable. This was achieved by mandating their use in the Scottish public sector. The UPRN and USRN are now mandatory open data standards and will form a requirement of all new applicable public sector software.

The benefits

The availability and prevalence of the UPRN and USRN helps the seamless linking of different systems across government departments and organisations, thereby enabling composite analysis.

These benefits were highlighted by the Covid crisis, as the UPRN came to the fore as part of the government response – when accurate, comparable and up to date data was essential.

Data was sourced from NHS, Social Work and various local authority departments as part of the immediate response to helping those most vulnerable within our communities. The UPRN underpinned many datasets that were used to securely identify individuals as well as understanding trends. In doing so, the UPRN prevented costly duplication of effort and data matching exercises across government.

With local authorities now turning their attention to operating in a Post-Covid world, accurate and easily linkable data will continue to be vital as part of the recovery efforts. The wide-spread use of the authoritative UPRN and USRN will go a long way in assisting that.

For more information contact: gazhelp@improvementservice.org.uk