On the 2nd of April 2020, the Government announced that the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) will be released under Open Government Licence. Additionally, the Open Standards Board, via Government Digital Service (GDS), has mandated that from 1st July 2020, the UPRN and USRN are the public sector standard for referencing and sharing property and street information. Read the GDS blog on the announcement.
"The availability of the UPRN and USRN as Open Data, and the approval as Open Standards by the Standards Board, represents a step change in the referencing of property and street information and supports GeoPlace’s vision where ‘everyone benefits from the power of location data’. The adoption of these identifiers across the public sector provides a platform for transformation and efficiency through the way location data is managed, linked, shared and used."
Steve Brandwood – Executive Director of Engagement at GeoPlace
- See the April 2020 announcements here
- Read our guide: Central Government mandates the use of the UPRN and USRN to reference addresses and streets
- Read our blog: Government guidance on using UPRNs and USRNs
Access free address data using AddressBase
On 28th July 2021, the Central Digital & Data Office (part of the Cabinet Office) issued new guidance to comply with the UPRN standard. It states that if you work in the public sector and you need to use address data, such as property and street information, then you should follow this guidance.
You must use the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) standard when identifying places in the UK. This allows users to easily cross-reference between different data sets and reduces errors in data exchange and communication. Every addressable location in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales and excluding Northern Ireland) has a UPRN, and using this standard can save money, time, resources and lives.
Publish reference data for use across government
Additionally, on 11th March 2021, the Government Digital Service provided best practice guidance for creating a strategy to manage and support reference data for publishing. The guidance is aimed at government employees who need to publish reference data so others can use it across government.
The guidance specifically highlights the use of UPRNs. Follow this external link to view the new guidance on the Central Digital and Data Office website.
Working with open standards
Open standards are technical specifications developed outside of government. You must use open standards when designing and building your service unless you’ve been granted an exemption.
Follow this external link to gov.uk's service manual - Working with open standards.
UK Geospatial Data Standards Register
The UK geospatial data standards register entries are agreed ways of sharing and accessing geographic information. They help ensure that the data is findable, accessible, interoperable, and re-usable adhering to the FAIR data principles.
At the current time the register contains standards for geospatial identifiers, metadata, data format, data content, coordinate reference systems and coordinate reference system transformation.
These standards should be used for the majority of cases for geospatial data exchange. The exception would be for geospatial communities that have established domain specific standards which underpin interoperability within their community.
The UPRN and the USRN are methods used to attribute individual property and street data known as identifiers. These identifiers attributed by local government to every address and street in the UK are used to link data and systems to ensure unambiguous and persistent identification. Find out more on this link from the Geospatial Commission.
Make better use of data
The Central Digital and Data Office has published guidance on using data more effectively by improving your technology, infrastructure and processes. They have outlined how making better use of data will help government guidelines, highlighting the Identifying property and street information UPRN/USRN data standard:
- Reducing the risk of error and fraud, such as using standard identifiers for properties and streets to catch invalid addresses
Joined up data in government: the future of data linking methods
Data linkage provides insight, informs policy change and helps answer society’s most important questions through increasing the utility of data. See this review published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 16th July 2021 on improving work in data linkage across government.
Linked data using the UPRN and USRN
This is a collection of datasets that have been linked to the UPRN or USRN by various organisations. The data has been published as open data.
Using the UPRN – a guide for councils
The LGA states that the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) should be fundamental to all data matching and, therefore, to all data analysis. They explain that this will ensure that disparate data sets and innovative applications of data can be blended to provide insight and understanding about residents and businesses, which is needed to deliver area-based services effectively on the ground.
An overview, case studies and useful tools are provided by the LGA.
Measure the value of investments into location data
The Geospatial Commission has published guidance for measuring the economic, social and environmental value of public sector location data investments.
The guidance comprises a seven-step framework, which gives public sector organisations the tools necessary to understand and assess the value of location data. It includes items such as best practice approaches and tangible case studies. Built on a foundation of existing research information and experiences, the framework aims to empower public sector organisations to more effectively drive the investment case for location data.
The Geospatial Commission's report 'How FAIR are the UK’s national geospatial data assets?' sets out the use of UPRNs for a common approach to referencing and interoperability, and in its thinking about building correlations between geospatial datasets.
Ofgem Data Best Practice Supporting Information
Ofgem’s Data Best Practice Guidance DBP guidance ensures that data is treated as an asset and used effectively for the benefit of consumers and the Public Interest. It is a principles-based set of guidance which provides guidance on the quality, accuracy and accessibility of data, and its requirements are not specific to the energy sector.
By complying with this guidance, organisations will enable the full benefits of data to be unlocked for consumers. Needless to say, UPRNs are recommended for identifying the spatial element of data.
The Local Government Digitalisation Almanac
In March 2023, the LGA launched its new Local Government Digitalisation Almanac for councillors and officers, containing simple steps, practical examples and resources to support councils on their digitalisation journeys. The Almanac is framed around 12 strategic outcomes that were agreed in partnership with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace) and the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation (Socitm). Theme 2 is ‘Data’ and the guidance states: “When recording location data, use Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs)/ Unique Street Reference Numbers (USRNs). See the LGA’s Guidance on using UPRN/USRN including a UPRN Assessment tool to see how integrated your systems are.”
See the Almanac at https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/cyber-digital-and-technology/almanac.