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Open National Address Dataset

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How you can help Open Addresses build an Open National Address Dataset allows you to submit any number of addresses to help build an Open National Address Dataset. Please contribute, even if only to add your own address and please forward the link to your family, friends and contacts.

Open Addresses has been set up after a two year debate led by the Open Data User Group (ODUG) asking the Government to make a single set of national address data open and available for use by everyone. Addresses and location co-ordinates are a crucial part of our National Information Infrastructure. We need to know where things are! This (non-personal) data can also be used to link other open data together for analysis across sectors like health, transport and education, so that better public services can be designed for the future, based on actual evidence about how things work now, rather than sentiment and assumption. Address data is important for all types of businesses, to help them build and deliver products and services, so this data has a direct impact on the economy too.

At the moment there are several different ‘national’ address datasets, not a single accurate central repository - which I found unbelievable when I started working in this area! The main one - AddressBase is controlled and sold by GeoPlace (a joint venture between the Ordnance Survey and the Local Government Association). The use of AddressBase is restricted by the Ordnance Survey (a publicly owned body). The OS sells our address data and also other mapping data back to the government/public sector and to the private sector. Our national address data is also restricted from mainstream use because the bulk postcode data, the Postcode Address File (PAF), was sold into private ownership with the privatisation of the Royal Mail last year. This was a huge mistake with the result that the Royal Mail now has lightly regulated control over all public and private sector use of the main address dataset for the nation as it charges the government and other organisations to use postcodes. Because of the importance of address and location data the beneficial use of almost all our public data is restricted by the Ordnance Survey and/or the Royal Mail.

This incredible, economically inefficient, mess has been allowed to persist for many years by successive governments. Aside from the argument of principle that the public should have access to this data as a 'public good' which is funded through taxation, this hasn't been such a big problem in the past. Now, in an increasingly digital society/economy, it is a massive problem/issue. Other countries like The Netherlands and Denmark have solved this problem and made their address data open and free to use, and have reaped the benefits, sadly we have not.

Hence this project, funded by the Release of Data Fund where Open Addresses is stepping up to the challenge of building an alternate national address dataset from scratch. The goal is that this address data will be open for use by anyone without third party intellectual property restrictions.

Please give Open Addresses your support by clicking on the link above and helping them crowd-source the address data. They will do the rest!


Heather Savory

Chair ODUG


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