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A picture paints a thousand words

NSG Exemplar Award Runner-up – Most creative use of level 3 NSG 2008: Kent Highway Services Alliance.

Using GIS techniques, Kent Highway Services Alliance produces and distributes a CDROM of a spatial representation of the County’s NSG. Designed to facilitate the matching of the County NSG with the twelve District Councils’ LLPGs this is a low cost, technically simple tool that has realised benefits beyond its original objectives.

In addition to enabling quicker and more efficient resolution of data mismatches by aiding and encouraging dialogue (both District to District and District to County), the Kent NSG CD is also being applied to other location based service delivery areas to generate gains in efficiency, service delivery and communication.


The County Elementary Street Unit (ESU) coverage is converted into a Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) coverage by ‘dissolving’ ESUs into their parent USRNs. Surplus information is removed and street record attributes (Type 11 NSG records) are added. The addition of the county borderline, colour coding of street according to district, and greyscale representation of motorways and trunk roads, ensures the resulting GIS display of road centrelines for the whole county is easy to interpret and quick to navigate. Simply using the ‘information’ tool to click on a street highlights the entire USRN extent and displays all the street record attributes in the correct order.

This information is transferred to CD-ROM (the best medium for the volume of data) and issued to each of the 12 District Council NLPG Custodians on a quarterly basis. The process from beginning to end, takes a day per issue and costs less than a £1,000 per annum.

Although initially designed for use by the NLPG custodians to compare their own spatial coverage of NLPG USRNs with the County NSG in order to identify and rectify anomalies, the Kent NSG CD is achieving additional benefits.

Trying to resolve problematic street mismatches can be difficult especially when trying to describe them in email. Often the most effective way is a telephone call between custodians when both parties have in front of them the same visual representation of how the street currently appears in the NSG. It really is ‘good to talk’ and progress is made, with the aspirational 100% NSG/ NLPG match rate nearly achieved.

A further aim was to reciprocate the flow of information between the two tiers of local government in Kent. Traditionally, information is fed from the bottom up, with districts supplying data to the county, however the NSG CD initiative demonstrates the value of county supplying districts with operationally useful data.

In addition to the original objectives, the supply of spatially referenced NSG data has resulted in some unexpected efficiency gains and improvements in delivery of location based services at district level. For example, one council is using the data to display refuse collection information, colour code by day of pick up, while other District Councils have made the data available for use by street scene officers and within their customer contact centres.

Key benefits

  • An improved process for the resolution of data mismatches between districts and county resulting in a near 100% accuracy rate.
  • Joined up working underpinned by viewing the same data.
  • Application of county produced and maintained data enabling improvements in the local delivery of location based services.
  • Innovative use of simple technology to produce a low cost best practice business process that can be applied by other local authority partnerships.
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