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Ordnance Survey’s latest spatial address data sparks growing interest


23 August 2006 - A growing number of customers, such as utilities, housing associations and emergency services, are benefiting from the latest enhancements to Ordnance Survey’s most detailed spatial address data.

Since its launch in May 2006, OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 has already begun to support applications, including risk assessment, asset management, contingency planning, property repair analysis and the routing of commercial delivery services.

A key benefit is the ability to link data within and between organisations using a free cross‑reference table. It provides navigability among different kinds of address-based references such as Ordnance Survey’s unique royalty-free feature identifier, the TOID.

“In just a few months it has become clear that our enriched spatial address information offers real potential to make all kinds of spatial address-related data more interoperable,” says Vanessa Lawrence, Ordnance Survey’s Director General and Chief Executive. “We are offering customers across the public and private sectors the prospect of more efficient data sharing and reduced duplication and we are delighted by the early interest shown.”

OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 is the latest development in Ordnance Survey’s digital addressing information, which began with the launch of the ADDRESS-POINT dataset in 1992.

As well as defining and locating more than 27 million postal addresses, the enhanced information includes details of multiple residences and flats with no individual postal delivery points – vital for emergency, utility and other non-postal services. More than a million other properties without postal addresses – such as churches, community centres and public toilets – have been given an intuitively useful address referenced to road, locality and postcode. A geographic alternative address is provided plus building alias names and, in Wales, Welsh language alternatives. In addition, up to four alternative classifications or descriptions are assigned to each address, derived from Ordnance Survey, Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the National Land Use Database schema.

As part of OS MasterMap, Address Layer 2 is fully integrated with TOIDs referencing the topographic and road network information held in other layers. The use of the TOID means that all information held for a particular address can be quickly gathered, a significant benefit for users such as emergency services responding to incidents. The link table is specifically designed to make it as easy as possible to share and integrate different kinds of address information. As well as the address TOID, the table includes identifiers from Royal Mail and VOA.

Vanessa Lawrence says, “As with National Grid references, we are keen to see the widest possible sharing of TOIDs in data association, information exchange and analysis applications. That is why we license their use royalty-free to promote joined-up government and the reuse of information, and why we have made the link table free. We would like to connect it with other datasets in the future. The incorporation of local government’s unique property reference numbers, for example, would be an ideal complement.”

Southern Water is responsible for delivering clean, fresh water to around one million households in the south-east of England. Southern Water also treats and recycles dirty water from nearly two million households. It has been a user of Ordnance Survey’s addressing products for over five years and has recently purchased OS MasterMap Address Layer 2.

“The additional data in Address Layer 2, particularly the details of multiple residences and properties without postal addresses, will be of real benefit to us and allow us to identify more accurately all of the buildings receiving our services,” says Pete Brown, Southern Water’s Business Programme Manager, Information Technology.

OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 is available in both GML (Geography Mark-up Language) and CSV (Comma Separated Values) format, making it easy and flexible to implement. The new data meets the BS 7666 : 2006 standard.

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