I note with some embarrassment that my previous blog post was back in March which was all of five months ago. It was a fairly optimistic post looking forward to where Scotland could be going with its land and property information service. The lack of information since through this blog fortunately doesn’t reflect the considerable activity which has taken place.
In the earlier posting I said that the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland (RoS) had been invited by the Deputy First Minister to establish a task force, with the remit to provide a report detailing what would be involved in creating the land and property information service. This task force was duly established, with representation from Registers of Scotland, Unifi Scotland, Ordnance Survey, Improvement Service, Law Society of Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and SOLACE.
The report was delivered by the end of July as required and looks at the key drivers, the purpose and the likely benefits, high level design principles, the concept behind what became known as Scotland’s Land and Property Information Service (ScotLIS), some outline options as to how the service could be established and an outline timetable. A Ministerial Announcement is expected by the end of September.
One of the high level design principles in the report is that the UPRN will be used as the core reference to access and link data. This will have an impact on the One Scotland Gazetteer / AddressBase as its scope is likely to extend beyond the records it currently contains. This is exciting because it will become a gazetteer in the truest sense, rather than as the address list as which many currently see it. In order to support this increased role for the OSG, the Improvement Service are currently advertising some additional posts http://www.improvementservice.org.uk/vacancies.html in our new Spatial Information Service – the closing date is 4pm on Monday 31st August. These posts will be focussed primarily on land and property information but will form part of the overall service to develop national layers of spatial information produced by individual councils and to collectively meet local governments’ INSPIRE obligations.
As part of the establishment of the service and to meet the demand from ScotLIS, the Improvement Service is in the process of bringing the OSG Custodian role in-house as part of the new service. We have completed consultations on this with stakeholders and these have been positive.
There also have been initial discussions with representative from RoS and the Scottish Assessors Association about working closely with the OSG custodians across Scotland and it could well be that in time this and the ScotLIS requirements lead us into a fundamental review of addressing in Scotland.
In terms of the new service progress has been accelerating and we are beginning to build the ICT Infrastructure required to support it and have been developing some early versions of the output of the service. We plan to demonstrate what we have being doing at the OSMA Annual Event in Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Tuesday 27th October. This event is open to everyone in organisations which are members of OSMA. You can register here
The OSG, either in its own or within AddressBase, is planned to be used the new Command and Control systems for Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Whilst this is great news, their respective teams have identified a number of issues which cause them significant concern. Mostly what has been identified is caused by elements of the address being inherited from the Local Street Gazetteer. Although Scottish emergency services colleagues have brought these issues to our attention, it affects everyone using the products.
Research is ongoing so there is no definitive statement at this stage, but I am personally beginning to question the logic within BS7666 of having core elements of addresses e.g. towns and locality being dependent on a street gazetteer which was created for an entirely different purpose e.g. managing road maintenance. This is a complex question, so at the moment we are working with partner organisations to find a short term solution whilst the longer term is addressed.
I will try to provide more regular blog posts as we move ahead. Hopefully we can get over the contractual issues which have made open discussions tricky over the recent period and can now start moving rapidly forward.