Time is right for a single national address database
by Peter Sleight, Chair of the Association of Census Distributors and Partner at Target Market Consultancy.
11 Oct 2011: It was with considerable interest that I read James Lawson’s article about the National Address Gazetteer (NAG) in a recent issue of Database Marketing and it struck me that his article was indeed very timely. Utimately it concluded that, as things stand, NAG was most unlikely to be much used by the private sector.
The reason for this prediction, of course, comes down to the price and terms under which NAG is likely to be offered to private sector purchasers. The public sector is covered by the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA); the private sector will be able to purchase NAG from Ordnance Survey, and, while prices have not been finalised, OS has indicated that prices and terms to the private sector will be in line with its other addressing products (e.g., AddressPoint).
Thus, NAG is likely to cost from £25K p.a. for a single user, up to £190K for a large organisation. OS’s terms & conditions will also apply – these include a requirement for OS’s intellectual property rights to run through any products developed from NAG. Postcodes are included in NAG under licence; PSMA will pay for PAF centrally, whereas private sector users will need a PAF licence.
The MRS Census & Geodemographics Group (CGG) has been monitoring NAG since it was first announced in December 2010 – and has been lobbying government to make NAG Open Data. Useful background on this may be found on the MRS website, for those interested in finding out more (www.mrs.org.uk/networking/cgg/best_deal_add_info.htm).
Other developments in government activity are relevant. For example, government moves concerning Public Sector Information (PSI) where the government has the stated aim of ‘making all public sector data public’ (unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.) As a part of this process, a Public Data Corporation is being formed. A Transparency Board has also been created, which resides within the Cabinet Office, and is chaired by Cabine Office Minister Francis Maude. The Transparency Board will guide development of the Open Data Strategy.
The MRS CGG has been lobbying Francis Maude about making NAG Open Data (this is referenced on the MRS website). With the recent launch of a public consultation on ‘Data Policy for a Public Data Corporation’, everyone with an interest can get involved and put their point of view. The CGG’s point of view, in a nutshell, is that NAG as Open Data would benefit the economy by improving efficiency and stimulating innovation.
We have been encouraged to see, in the recently-published minutes of the June meeting of the Transparency Board, the following: “The Board set out their view that a single national address file, created by a merging of the GeoPlace data and the Postcode Address File needed to be available as a public good and as core data infrastructure”.
A very positive development – but we cannot assume it will happen without a further shove from the industry. There are tensions within government between those who favour Open Data, and those who would rather keep the revenue generated from the Trading Funds ( such as OS ). So please add your voices to the campaign; the link to the consultation is www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/how_should_government_become_even_more_open
The prize to the whole industry could be huge. As James pointed out, the fact that three ‘national address lists’ existed alongside each other for years was a cause of inefficiency and waste. Let’s get one definitive national address database – ideally as Open Data.
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