The Mapping Blog - Is the humble 'address' still a bone of contention? By Russel Tinnion

Our in-house mapping and spatial expert Russel Tinnion ruminates over the issue of what is in an ‘address’ and why is it an issue to be managed in the business world?

The humble address has remained a “bone of contention” in business processes for many years, whether it be in conveyancing transactions or simply what you call ‘home’.

Royal Mail, the national postal service, may have a characterisation of an address which differs to how the Land Charges department at a local authority might describe it. The idiosyncrasies in the use of an address within other administrative systems can create misunderstandings between organisations.

Due to the varying organisations undertaking activities relating to the property, ambiguity and confusion can transpire, impacting business processes and therefore service delivery to the public and private sectors alike.

It is important to remain aware that Royal Mail data, often utilised in business processes, contains “addresses” to which letters and parcels are delivered. Many businesses, for example Utilities or Emergency Services, undertake operational activities that require location to be described by the use of an “address”.

AddressBase Premium: Ordnance Survey’s flagship address database. Image copyright Ordnance Survey.

However, even more importantly, spatial location is required for land and property to which Royal Mail do not deliver.

Non-Royal Mail addressable objects may include:

Historically the requirement to locate “addressable” and “non-addressable” objects has been accomplished through implementation of technology services that access two distinct “address” characterisation datasets – these datasets being the Royal Mail Postal Address File (PAF) and the Local Authority Local Land & Property Gazetteer (LLPG).

In the past, one of the main deficiencies of using both these datasets was an inability to cross-reference or mine the equivalent address in one or the other dataset.

Each dataset has a unique set of extended address attributions but, by combining LLPG and PAF, one can access two sets of extended attributes in a single source. This brings about many advantages for businesses, allowing for services to be expedited and improving accuracy of information exchange relating to the address of the property.

AddressBase Premium, managed by GeoPlace, provides such a single source for “address” characterisation based on PAF and LLPG data.

GeoPlace® is a public sector limited liability partnership between the Local Government Association (LGA) and Ordnance Survey (OS). GeoPlace’s remit is to create and maintain the National Address Gazetteer and National Street Gazetteer for England, Scotland and Wales.

Information in AddressBase Premium is consumed and collated from organisations such as:

The “link” between PAF and LLPG has been achieved through the use of a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN), an overview of the UPRN can be found here “The UPRN – your golden thread”. By utilising the UPRN in business processes, as opposed to the address description, ambiguities in the land and property being referenced or described can be avoided.

As address-related technology services extend to take advantage of the UPRN and its extended attributes, enriched and more efficient workflows will evolve for numerous business practices; refining Client-facing applications as well as “business-to-business” address information exchange.

As the UPRN “link” becomes established, I envisage other datasets such as Ordnance Survey MasterMap Topology Layer or perhaps the Land Registry Title information partaking in “link” exposure.

It’s possible that the humble address will not be such a “bone of contention” in business processes anymore…