After my last blog entry about the signing of the Public Sector Licence for PAF there has been some pretty hectic activity to get it up and running and it seems generally to have gone pretty well, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved. The first year is a transitional period and during it the PSL only applies to PAF contained in Ordnance Survey addressing products and only when supplied directly by the OS. I’m not sure that all of the subsequent discussions about implementation entirely recognised the underlying tenet of the agreement as being the intention to remove barriers to using PAF and thus promote good addressing, but it will provide some lessons for the implementation by other Solution Providers in 2015.
What it does mean for OSMA and PSMA members is that one of the major barriers to deploying AddressBase has now been removed and many in the addressing industry expect the take-up of AddressBase to expand exponentially in the public sector. The principal reason for this it that everyone now can have access to the UPRN and geo-reference and at the same time have the comfort of using the form of address with which the overwhelming majority are familiar i.e. the postal address.
This raised an interesting debate which was aired yesterday at the One Scotland Gazetteer custodians meeting and I’m sure will be much repeated going forwards. There is a view which has been around in local government since I first became involved in addressing a few years ago, that the street naming and numbering address is the statutory address for that property and that everyone, Royal Mail included, should be compelled to use it. This would be the definitive address. Thinking on it, when we started the One Scotland Gazetteer as a national programme in 2003 it was called the Definitive National Address. Apart from the unfortunate connotations from the acronym, which certainly raised the interest in the programme to levels which addressing could only dream about (followed immediately by subsequent disappointment at finding out what DNA actually stood for), that was what we set out to do. However, given the lack of penetration of OSG and NLPG, and the overwhelming market position of PAF addresses, it could be argued that a definitive national address is unattainable and despite some fair robust arguments from custodians yesterday, I felt that the most sage comment was that a definitive national address which was universally accepted was probably Nirvana and as such something to aspire towards, recognising that there had to be an interim and that AddressBase seemed to provide this. Wonder what others think – is a definitive national address attainable or even desirable?
What came over from the custodians is that there is a tremendous effort being made by the gazetteer community to get OSG as good as possible within the resource constraints faced by local government. It was noted that 19 of the 32 councils attended the meeting and there was a good discussion how, as a community, standards and consistency could be improved and how support could be provided to those perhaps less engaged. All this will feed through into overall quality improvements however OSG is accessed, either directly or through AddressBase.
As a slight digression from addressing, I gave a very quick overview of how Scottish Government, and in particular local government, are proposing to meet the INSPIRE regulations and indeed approach the delivery of a Scottish SDI in a collective manner. There is an embryonic Proposal and Business Case being completed, and this will go to the Spatial Information Board later this month, and which will provide information on a number of options of how Scotland (in this instance I refer to government, NHS, other public sector bodies, commercial organisations and members of the public) and indeed UK and Europe can get the most value from our spatial data. At times I do wonder about INSPIRE - is there is any real interest in all of the datasets covered by the regulations, other than perhaps some obscure academic potential research projects? It is becoming apparent that whilst the overall principles of INSPIRE around data-sharing in an open manner ( of course remembering that “open” and “free of charge” aren’t the same thing) is where Scotland wants and needs to go, there are finite resources available and that prioritisation will be required.