Back Again

At the last Scottish addressing meeting in Stirling on the 28th November one of the points that came out of discussion was the importance of having clear communication between all involved in addressing in Scotland.  This had taken a bit of a back seat at a time when a lot was going on and this had let to a number of misunderstandings.  One things that was raised was my regular blog about what was going on being posted missing.  New Year’s resolution is to get it back up and running!

One reason for the silence has been that a lot of what seems to have been going on in addressing has been conducted by what our retired colleague Cameron Easton referred to as the dark figures in the shadows and very little has appeared in public – something I find curious as those involved are (were) all public bodies!

As far as the One Scotland Gazetteer is concerned we have agreed with thinkWhere that there are three priorities for the first quarter of 2014.  We need to physically move the OSG from its current home as part of the refresh of the Citizen Account Service involved reassessing the hosting arrangement and the OSG will go with it.  We will be working with thinkWhere and Connect to make this seamless to custodians and customers.

The next priority is to finalise the Enquiry Resolution Process for OSG/AddressBase.  This has taken on an element of urgency with the CAS refresh and we have funding in place to make it happen.  The foundations of this were in the earlier workshops, attended by customers and custodians, but things have progressed.  More information will be posted as we proceed.

Third priory will be the OSG Conventions Review which will involve setting up a working group and will also investigate linkages between the conventions and KPIs around warnings and errors.  There is a call out for volunteers to assist in the Custodians KHUB group.

There is a serious communication challenge at the moment around OSG and AddressBase and this was highlighted recently when I had to answer a question from a senior officer in Scottish local government about why the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have opted for AddressBase, rather than use the OSG.  The explanation is simple – AddressBase Premium contains all of the OSG with nothing taken out but has the added advantage of being linked to the PAF address.  There are over 40,000 organisations in GB who use PAF against around a couple of hundred who use OSG/NLPG so AddressBase provides a route to access the UPRN from PAF.  Matching is on-going and in Scotland we have a 97% average match rate which is not at all bad.  Given the overwhelming dominance of PAF addresses, in reality matching to PAF  is the only viable option if we are going to provide better services to citizens.  In an ideal world perhaps local government could persuade Royal Mail to use the addresses provided by Street Naming and Numbering without adulterating them but as they use them to deliver mail and not to provide services this strikes me as being somewhat fanciful – for now!!

We have a meeting with BIS and Royal Mail 15/1 to try to move the Public Sector PAF licence ahead.  It has been noted by SOLACE that the has been as work in progress for three and a half years and there are two and months until it is needed to support the Citizens Account and the emergency services in Scotland and hopefully very soon NHS Scotland.

There is also a meeting planned for this week between the Improvement Service and Royal Mail to discuss future arrangements for the transfer of information between local government in Scotland and the Address Management Unit.  This might have some bearing on the point made above but will undoubtedly involved a lot of small steps – hopefully not two forward and one back.  Again will keep everyone posted (sorry) when possible.  There has been a “strange” silence as to whether similar discussions are taking place in England and Wales – but methinks it would be a different degree of “strange” if they weren’t.

As far as I’m aware (and would happily be corrected if I missed it) the paper on the future of addressing in GB never appeared in public which suggests that it must have been pretty close to the money.  Recently,  everything seems to have gone pretty quiet on the “addressing as open data” front, so maybe someone is digging a mine under the other side’s lines.  

I still can’t get my head around the figures which suggest that it costs AMU roughly a quarter of the total that Ordnance Survey spends on maintaining the entire national mapping base, to maintain PAF.  Surely if this published cost is accurate and correct, there must be a compelling argument to ask GeoPlace to look at maintaining PAF alongside the rest of the National Address Gazetteer.  Was that a movement in the shadows?

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Ewan Walker 7 Years Ago
Iain - Going back to Scottish Addressing meeting and the presentations on Addressbase. I couldn't help thinking that one of the strengths of Addressbase - the fact that it includes both PAF address and Gazetteer address - is also a weakness... How do we explain that there is a requirement for each property to have two versions of the address, when in the large majority of cases (I assume), the two versions of the address are duplicates of each other, albeit with different field names used. We have used our Gazetteer for widespread mailshot purposes on several occasions with success. When we do get undelivered mail items returned, we use them to review our Gazetteer and fix errors when they exist, thus improving data quality. There are variations between PAF address and Gazetteer address, however I wonder if the degree of variation has ever been quantified? At some point would it not be useful to identify the differences, analyse why they exist, make changes to standards and conventions to prevent variation in the future, and fix errors either in PAF and Gazetteer as required. Or is that too simplistic? Lastly - it's good to see the blog return. I look forward to a future blog focussed on INSPIRE, a subject which quickly leaves me confused and bemused every time I attempt to understand where we are, and where we need to be!