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Building a gazetteer for the future

NLPG NSG Exemplar Award Runner-up – Best integrated use of the NLPG and NSG 2008: Monmouthshire County Council.

Monmouthshire County Council, like all Welsh authorities, is unitary and thus responsible for both its street and property gazetteers. However, after initial submittal to the national hubs in the early 2000s both gazetteers languished for the next few years with no software and no day-to-day maintenance.

However, a strategic decision to develop a corporate GIS resource has led to a thorough re-appraisal of the gazetteers, which are recognised to be part and parcel of the processes required to update and overhaul the authority’s service delivery methods and infrastructure.

Monmouthshire understand the importance of a strong linkage between the NSG and the NLPG and took the decision to maintain a single integrated gazetteer for all highway, address and location based information. This will be a vital corporate resource used by all departments from planning through to environmental health and will help shape the quality of Monmouthshire’s future service provision.

To ensure that the gazetteer is fit for purpose Monmouthshire has embarked upon a major highways verification exercise. This has meant literally walking the streets to verify ownership and photographing the street signs to address the issue of consistent street naming and numbering, which is further complicated by the need to recognise both Welsh and English naming and multiple spelling variations that have occurred over time.

GIS is being used to map each street extent, track progress and to position the exact location of street sign photos. Every street name is then cross-referenced and verified by the authority’s street naming and numbering personnel to ensure provenance and accuracy. The street component of the gazetteer is in use by the highways department who receive regular updates. Monmouthshire is largely rural and many property addresses and streets in the existing gazetteer were associated with the six major postal towns, rather than the villages or hamlets in which they belonged.

Monmouthshire has undertaken to identify and map each settlement. This was achieved through the study of various maps and records and if necessary through site visits. Using GIS, the extent of each settlement is mapped and then roads and properties adjusted accordingly. Overcoming the conflicts and anomalies in an integrated gazetteer is much easier than maintaining two gazetteers and merging them in future.

Outcomes

Monmouthshire County Council has realised that to enable eGovernment, bring about true business transformation and improve its service provision, it has first to create a high quality data and services infrastructure. It will take the Council between two and three years with limited resources to do this. The process has started and the council is well positioned to achieve what it has set out to do. The decision to create one version of the ‘truth’ by having a single integrated gazetteer will save time in the building and creating a high quality gazetteer that can be used through out the council to underpin its services.

Engagement with departments across the council is already paying dividends. For example citizens are now able to make use of a comprehensive search and mapping facility on the council’s website. This uses the UPRN to unlock information about council services relevant to where they live. There are plans to extend this as the project moves forward.

Key benefits

  • A single integrated gazetteer is simpler to maintain.
  • Single authority wide version of the ‘truth’ for all street, land and property information.
  • Gazetteer backed by corporate GIS deployment.
  • Senior management backing has led to recognition within the authority of the power of the UPRN and joined up government.
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