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National Address Dataset Benefits

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I was in a Black Cab last week, talking to the driver about postcodes and address data, because we all talk to the cabbie about whatever is occupying our thoughts….. “Do you know,” he said, “my navigation system is hopeless – I put the postcode in and quite often I end up two or three streets away from the address I am trying to find. It wastes my time and some people get really mad with me.

There is a simple underlying reason for this – the freely available Open Data from the Ordnance Survey, although useful for many applications, will only allow the central point of a postcode area to be located on a map. So, whatever postcode you put in, you get sent to the same place at the centre of the postcode area.

This is one of a multitude of simple, obvious arguments for the release of an Open National Address Dataset. But we still need to do more to persuade the government to do this. So this week the Open Data User Group (ODUG) is publishing a further paper to set out more details about benefits of an Open National Address dataset which would be useful to us all:

Further Benefits of an Open National Address Dataset – this paper shows how the direct benefits to the UK economy of releasing an Open National Address Dataset could easily exceed £1bn per annum:

  • We know that the costs of doing so are relatively small, so there is a potential for at least a 100 to 1 return on investment here for the UK economy and society, realisable from the first year of investment.

  • This data is already provided for free to public sector organisations – so there is nothing new to develop. The data could, literally, be release for free tomorrow.

  • Incredible isn’t it!? Please read the paper where a number of examples and case studies set out why and how this is true.

We are making a strong case for the release of an Open National Address Dataset. We know that many of you within the data, business and public sector communities support this call, as do many individual citizens. Please post your comments below as we always welcome your feedback:

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  1. Comment by batnovice posted on

    I am not convinced this makes the case for opeing up the PAF

    There is no analysis of the disbenefits to the householders of have every fly by night marketing companies having their addresses or it use by fraudsters or identity theft.  If this was such a wanted facility, I don't see why an alturstic community does not capture the data and realease it as does open street map.


    On balance I am against the release of this data and do not see that the paper makes a compelling case.

    • Replies to batnovice>

      Comment by exstat posted on

      I think you are missing the point here.  Royal Mail already provide a postcode lookup on line, so any fraud or identity theft issues are already with us.  After all, how many valid addresses does an identity thief need?

      It is also possible to register with the Mail Preference Service if you wish to avoid the deluge of unsolicited junk mail.  The key word there may be "unsolicited"; a lot of junk comes from people not ticking the right box when completing forms, particularly online. 

      Any altruistic user capturing and releasing the data would probably be sued for breach of copyright or similar.  Realistically, capture would have to be from one of the existing copies of the PAF or similar.

      I won't attempt to outline the case for release, as others have done it much better here and elsewhere, but in effect it is about arguments on intellectual property rights (not just on PAF) getting in the way of perfectly respectable analysis and service provision.   The unrespectable stuff can be done already if people are prepared to pay the licence fee.

  2. Comment by nickpesas posted on

    Without even needing to read the document (although I did in fact read it), it is clear to me that this data would be extremely valuable to the private sector. While I see the concern that marketers could potentially use this data and be a nuisance, this data is already available to several thousand entities. Furthermore, I see the upside from improvements in mapping, directions, etc. to far outweigh the downside. Releasing this data would could spark innovation.

    In my opinion, any data collected by the government (that couldn't be potentially damaging for its citizens) should be distributed freely to the private sector since we are in fact paying for the data to be collected.