UPRNs – simple but powerful
The Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) is the unique identifier for every addressable location in Great Britain.
An addressable location may be any kind of building, or it may be an object that might not have a ‘normal' address – such as a bus shelter or an electricity substation for example. UPRNs provide every property (or object) with a consistent 12-digit identifier throughout its lifecycle, from planning through to demolition.
Who allocates UPRNs?
UPRNs are allocated by local authorities and by Ordnance Survey (OS) from a range provided by GeoPlace. Local authorities have the statutory permission to name and number every street and property in Great Britain and also allocate UPRNs to other objects. OS identifies features in the landscape that might not have a ‘normal' address, and includes them in its AddressBase products.
Why do we need UPRNs?
Unique and authoritative, the UPRN is like a National Insurance number for physical objects. Everything in Great Britain can be identified with a UPRN.
This authoritative ‘code' can be used to create trusted connections between disparate sources of information sharing a common characteristic: location. Even if there are other issues with the datasets, the UPRN is a simple and unique reference point.
Crucially, when organisations add the UPRN to any kind of data, they can link matching records in different databases together. This means fewer errors in data exchange and communication, but far greater efficiency in all kinds of operations.
Many technologies can be used to share the UPRN, including spreadsheets, databases, XML/GML schema and linked data. Groups already using the UPRN include local and central government bodies, the emergency services, insurance providers, and utility companies.
How is the UPRN evolving?
Under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, every organisation in the public sector can use UPRNs on a royalty free and open basis.
For example, the data is being used for emergency response by the emergency services; by HM Revenue and Customs to collect taxes; by Department of Work and Pensions to pay benefits; and by the Environment Agency to produce flood plans.
This means immense savings are possible – money, time, resources, and lives.
The entire public sector have access to the address information created and maintained by local authorities through the AddressBase® range of products and made available by Ordnance Survey.
On 13th June 2018, GeoPlace announced plans to explore the possibilities for opening up the access to Great Britain's UPRNs, and making them more available to a wider audience. The announcement about plans for the UPRN is here.