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USRNs – simple but powerful

The Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) is an 8 digit unique identifier for every street across Great Britain.  The USRNs for England and Wales exists within the National Street Gazetteer (NSG).  The NSG is the authoritative source of information about streets in England and Wales and is a compilation of data from 173 highway authorities' Local Street Gazetteers. 

The process to provide information about USRNs in Scotland is managed by the Improvement Service, and in Northern Ireland by the Department for Infrastructure.

The USRN is available from the NSG and included in Ordnance Survey's OS MasterMap Highways Network product. It is also used to power the Find My Street Service created by GeoPlace.

On 2nd April 2020, the Government announced that the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) will be released under an Open Government Licence (OGL). Additionally, the Government Digital Service has mandated that the UPRN and USRN are to be the public sector standard for referencing and sharing property and street information.  See more information - new freedoms to share UPRNs and USRNs.

Who allocates USRNs

Each local authority is provided a USRN range, that is centrally allocated and managed by GeoPlace.

Local authorities have a statutory responsibility that means they are the source of information for both street naming and numbering and managing the highways network. This means they are solely responsible for assigning USRNs and UPRNs for each street and address record in their area.

Why do we need USRNs

Highways authorities and utility companies strive to provide the best possible service for everyone both use our road networks and those working on it. This means collaboration before, during and after any works taking place on the highway is extremely important. The USRN is a key to ensuring works on street can be planned more effectively. For the public, this means less traffic congestion, increased safety and lower levels of disruption to road users.

The USRN:

  • links authoritative information about the street, and the requirement to provide this information is embedded in legislation

  • provides a fundamental building block for address records in the AddressBase suite of products

  • enables the data needed for accurate planning; streetworks and reduces the costs of collaboration

  • provides an ideal evidence-base for performance measurement and efficiency

USRNs are an important enabler

Here is an example of how they are being utilised in a local highway authority.

Conwy County Borough Council utilised USRNs to deliver a digital transformation project across the council, bringing together three departments; Highways and Infrastructure, Environmental Services and Property Services under one banner; the Environment Roads and Facilities Department, whose remit includes almost every aspect of the council's frontline services.

USRNs were used to link together datasets to support:

·     customer services: bringing together datasets to provide a single view of an issue or request

·     Mobile technology for highways inspections and works ordering: logging events against the lifecycle of a request

·     Financial management: breaking down budgets and expenditure to the road classification and network

·     Street lighting: each street light asset has been linked to the nearest USRN, providing instant geographic visualisation of the asset network

·     Gully maintenance: verifying locations and allowing inspections and customer service requests to be help in one place

·     Open spaces: litter bins, dog fouling, fly tipping, park and gardens are all managed and linked using the URSN, giving greater consistency and ease of reporting across departments

·     Customer portals: the Customer Service Advice Teams can click on a map and see immediately what data is held against the USRN.  Customers can also use the portal to report on every centrally managed service, including flood risks and street lightning requests. The council has already seen an increase in the number reported online as opposed to over the phone.

Sophie Birchall-Rogerson, Senior Management Information Systems Officer at Conwy Council said:

"Every request for Conwy County's operational services is now recorded against a USRN.  As a result, service delivery and KPIs have significantly improved across the board, with more requests being verified and plotted accurately in the correct location first time.  As a result the council is saving significant amounts of administrative and officer time.  However, perhaps the most important outcome for the council is the way in which location-linked Customer Portals have been embraced and adopted by the public.  This demonstrates the council's commitment to listening and resolving problems, to being transparent and effective in the management of assets and allocation of resources.  All enabled by the USRN".

open UPRNs and USRNs

The power of place

From July 2020, Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) and Unique Street Reference Numbers (USRNs) are openly available and royalty free for use on Open Government Licence (OGL) terms from Ordnance Survey.

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