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The power of the UPRN

The Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) is the unique identifier for every addressable location in Great Britain. It is created by local authorities who have the statutory authority to name and number every street and property and Ordnance Survey who identify objects on the landscape which may otherwise not attract an address. It provides a comprehensive, complete and consistent identifier throughout a property's life cycle – from planning permission or street naming through to demolition.

As we instinctively use addresses to communicate information about ourselves and the world around us, the UPRN performs the same role in digital data sharing.  The UPRN, found within the AddressBase products from Ordnance Survey, can help you to link internal datasets together and share information with other organisations who use the UPRN; groups already using the UPRN include local and central government bodies, emergency services, insurance and utility companies.

The UPRN is an underpinning linking mechanism that removes error in data exchange and communication, and delivers efficiency gains in operational processes.

In the same way that every citizen has a National Insurance number, every Internet-enabled device has an IP address and every book features an ISBN number, every addressable location has a UPRN.

Case studies on how the UPRN unlocks data

All of the following case studies are available in more detail from GeoPlace or Ordnance Survey.

Following an announcement in February this year, AddressBase internal business use customers, which includes the whole of the public sector, are able to utilise UPRNs on a royalty free and open basis.  The benefits in the following local authority case studies have been enabled by utilising the UPRN and the LLPG. 

This document describes the UPRN and how it can help link data together.

This document outlines the lifecycle of the UPRN and its allocation by local authorities.

How the UPRN has brought savings to local authorities

  • Eight local authorities in Wales have generated savings of over £850,000 by utilising UPRNs.  Focusing on the verification of single person discount claims, which entitles those living alone to a discount on the amount they are required to pay for their council tax, the authorities commissioned a large project that saw all 135,000 claims checked.  The project cost approximately £145,000 to run and returning savings, based on additional revenue, of £1 million, the average return across the seven authorities was £7 for every £1 spent. Importantly, this was achieved without any extra pressure on existing staff and ultimately helped toward making the savings that all councils were required to achieve

  • South Staffordshire Council – have improved routing efficiencies using the LLPG which has been instrumental in delivering contract savings of £380,000 per annum for at least the next seven years

  • Reigate and Banstead has used the data to generate landfill tax savings of £215K for 2012-13

  • Barnsley has generated an additional total rateable value for commercial properties £170,000 by using data matching enabled by the UPRN

  • Huntingdonshire has used it LLPG as a tool in decreasing the level of social housing fraud.  Using the current estimates of loss of £18k per property (Audit Commission/Cabinet Office /DCLG estimates), should deliver ongoing savings of around £864k and £1.72M to the public purse and has identified £250k in savings from fraud in Benefits and Council Tax Discounts

  • Re-engineering of land charges in Tower Hamlets underpinned by address management has saved £115,000 per annum.  I" really liked the way this project demonstrates an excellent, holistic approach to transforming the user journey for a Local Land Charge search request. The tension of reducing costs and staff, while improving service, is addressed through strong staff engagement in the change process. The UPRN provides the starting point with live updates being drawn from the LLPG. Over £190,000 p.a. savings, including quantified staffing reductions and other savings, have been achieved, together with "slashing duration times" and improved data accuracy. An excellent example of ‘end to end process transformation' to meet the users' needs." - Martin Ferguson, Director of Policy & Research, Socitm and sponsor and judge of the Innovation in Delivery Award

  • Nottingham's LLPG Team identified £40k of savings through closer working with Business Rates team and VOA in Nottingham

  • By making its LLPG widely available across the council, Barnsley made savings of £101,044 plus a waste collection route optimisation project resulting in £1 million over 4 years

  • Overall waste and recycling improvements, including vehicle route optimisation, have seen savings in Northumberland estimated to be in excess of £200,000 in the first full year

  • Sharing public sector asset management has delivered savings of £1.5 million per year in the greater Bristol area

  • Vehicle routes for all waste and recycling were optimised in Northumberland, delivering cashable savings of over £200,000 per year with a consequent reduction in the council's carbon footprint with the majority being fuel savings

  • After undertaking some internal research it was clear to Wiltshire that multiple savings could be made by ensuring key business systems utilised the LLPG as their address database rather than updating systems independently by multiple officers. Some approximate figures estimated a potential £300,000 could be saved on officer time

  • Savings of £39,000 per election have been identified through the rationalisation of polling stations in Northumberland, together with the identification of 300 addresses that were not listed on the register of electors

  • Oxford saved £58,000 in a council contract with the Land Registry to register all unregistered council land and property by linking property with the council's local address dataset

  • Barnsley are using the LLPG within its Troubled Families initiative.  Previously at Barnsley, data sources used to identify families were not easy to compare.  However using the LLPG the council has been able to link eight disparate datasets, including those from Education, Benefits and Youth Offending Team systems together to identify a more holistic view of families in need of support

  • Leeds has used its LLPG to link between and council tax and business rates record to discover an additional £92,826 annual revenue

  • By linking its council tax database with its LLPG outstanding queries by residents in Salford were reduced by 43% over a 5 month period

  • Huntingdonshire's LLPG was used as the basis of a Business Improvement District which saw almost £1m of investment

  • Northumberland integrated the data from its LLPG to provide greater property intelligence into the Digital Britain project resulting in additional £21m of funding

  • Kent reduced the occurrence of potholes and footway defects, and to find and swiftly fi x those which do occur, all with fewer Highway Inspectors and lower compensation claims saving an estimated £5 million

  • Gedling used its LLPG to give a cross-party working group clearly defined maps showing existing and proposed ward boundaries along with the number of electors for each proposed new ward

  • Newham integrated its LLPG with its property systems to identify instances of sub-letting within council properties and unlicensed privately rented properties

  • waste collection routes at the individual property level in North Somerset have been improved using the intelligence within the LLPG

  • using the LLPG to undertake property analysis, Tower Hamlets has mitigated the impact of traffic and highways impacts on new developments

  • Reigate and Banstead has facilitated the introduction of a new recycling, food waste and refuse service by using the LLPG to understand property distribution

  • Torfaen uses its LLPG to identify, map and share information about potentially vulnerable people and share the information with police and health service users in an emergency situation

  • Newham uses its LLPG to develop an app to manage its school admissions database and has made this available to parents to demystify the school application process for parents and reduces call centre costs

  • Warrington uses addressing to identify differences in social and geographical inequalities.  The ‘Closing the Gap' programme brings together key public sector partners, as well as representatives from the third sector and local businesses, to develop new ways of working together to help support the most vulnerable citizens. A core objective of the programme is to ensure that by 2030 no parts of Warrington would be included in the lowest 10% most deprived nationally. To do this, it was necessary to identify which areas fell into this category and understand who lives there. Information derived from the LLPG was combined with social marketing information, crime, health, education and emergency services data to identify those areas requiring attention. Once this exercise was completed it is then possible to focus on what services residents already use, what additional services may provide benefit and how best to engage with individual residents and communities

  • Using its LLPG data, Canterbury was able to plot where people had a request for an allotments to ensure the allocation of allotments was undertaken in a fair and equitable way and where there were gaps in provision. Being able to gauge demand identified areas where allotment provision was deficient and enabled the council to draw up its Allotment Strategy in line with its own community plan, sustainable development and neighbourhood initiatives. As a result, the council started a process of identifying and buying three new allotment sites in the area

  • Using the LLPG Nottingham has identified more than 70 additional properties identified as at risk from flooding.  The UPRN was used to draw information from other back office systems such as non-domestic rates to identify whether the property was commercial or residential; which were council owned and whether large employers were in the area. The data also revealed vulnerable sites such as hospitals, health centres, critical buildings and nonpostal properties such as electricity sub stations, tram stops, gas meter houses, car parks and playgrounds. The project was not only able to more accurately identify the areas subject to potential risk of flooding but also greatly improve the understanding of the likely impact on citizens, public and commercial enterprises and the infrastructure

  • "We firmly believe the UPRN to be a key element in driving forward effective and targeted service delivery. By placing the UPRN at the core of every service delivery system, not only can we continue to improve the services we offer, but also make savings through effective data sharing and joined up working. The immediate benefits internally range from fraud detection to enhanced routes for waste collection, as well as a much better understanding of each and every resident who consumes our services. As a result, the resident benefits from better services, as well as the convenience of being able to transact and gain access to a wealth of public information online. All of this has been facilitated by the UPRN." Luke Studden, Address Information Custodian, London Borough of Harrow

  • The Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales, supported by Welsh Government, UK Cabinet Office and Welsh Unitary Authorities have developed a mechanism to electronically transfer information between public service organisations using the UPRN as the common identifier. The project has demonstrated that the UPRN, when used as a key reference identifier, facilitates effective and efficient public service information sharing resulting in tangible service provider benefits that ultimately lead to better outcomes for citizens.  The project is delivering financial benefits across public service organisations in Wales and is reducing emergency service call handling time across Wales by nearly 18,000 hours per annum.

Tony Bracey, MAIT Project Manager has stated: "We have always maintained that Multi Agency Information Transfer (MAIT) in Wales utilises the UPRN as the key unique identifier. Information sharing using the UPRN is now in operation with the majority of Welsh Emergency Services and we are currently testing a similar approach in the exchange of data between Social Services and Emergency Services for example to undertake free Home Fire Safety Checks for vulnerable adults. We could not have achieved what we have, without the support and assistance from GeoPlace.

This support has been provided at every level within GeoPlace, supporting us at strategic discussions with our central government colleagues, allowing us to participate in the Regional Workshops, to more recently successfully undertaking a considerable amount of data matching of Emergency Service and Unitary Authority data in what appeared [to us] to be impossible deadlines.

My role has increasingly involved the Emergency Services in England and I am confident that within the near future, the use of the UPRN to underpin Emergency Service Command and Control Systems and as the unique identifier for wider public service information sharing, will be the norm not the exception. GeoPlace will be instrumental in achieving this."

Wider use of the data

Under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, 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. 

For example, the data is being used for emergency response by the Blue Light 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 detailed flood plans.

Other case studies from Ordnance Survey include:

  • How AddressBase has helped the Avantia Groupto reduce the price of 80% of quotes and reduce the numbers of claims they've incurred during the winter floods

  • By sharing accurate and comprehensive address information across back-office systems, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) focuses resources on specific areas of need

  • To ensure safety and security during the 2012 London Olympics Games, the Metropolitan Police service needed a single, definitive and easy-to-use way to securely view and share mapping, and associated data. During the Games, this new mapping portal was used by more than 2,000 users within the Metropolitan Police. In addition, more than 46 external agencies also had access to the system

  • Up-to-date and accurate mapping ensures that North East Ambulance Service responds to emergency calls effectively and maintains a high level of service

  • Utilising the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) address data from OS, the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies

  • ResilienceDirect, a new, secure, fully-certified platform underpinned by OS location data, enables UK emergency responders to share information more effectively

  • North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service efficiently identifies resources closest to incidents – and saves lives - having migrated to AddressBase Premium