As the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) holds the definitive list of which properties (and their UPRNs) exist in any given area, it’s the obvious cornerstone for every local authority. Integrating that information into business systems organisation-wide guarantees that a council can lower costs and see better results for its customers; enabling teams to work in harmony, improving services to people and businesses for whom they’re working.
Walsall Council is progressing well on their integration journey. They’re using some excellent mechanisms to engage with other departments: increasing visibility and sharing knowledge about what the UPRN can achieve. Effectively, Walsall is building a very robust foundation upon which many larger data linking projects can then be conducted.
Walsall Council is currently implementing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The council knew the UPRN was the key to embedding a common thread that would tie its systems together and also give them the single golden thread to their customers.
The GIS team encourages the use of the UPRN through the procurement process by making it a standard IT requirement to incorporate addressing that uses the UPRN. The GIS team is based in the IT department, enabling them to gain sight of systems due for contract renewal. Through a corporate Gazetteer project, the team ensure the requirement to integrate with the standard addressing format, utilising the UPRN is included in all of those system updates.
There are still a lot of systems within the council that rely on a daily output file to update back-office systems addressing requirements. The output file is generated from the LLPG. However, the majority of these updates are still a manual process, if the individual responsible for getting this data isn’t available, sequence updates can become out of sync. The process of getting the UPRN into all of the back-office systems is ongoing, but Walsall is exploring full integration of UPRNs and making updates an automated process with a live feed of data.
Crucially, integration of UPRNs has enabled Walsall Council to identify where service delivery is lacking – it’s enabled teams to ‘map’ council services, analyse provision, and make better-informed decisions about improving their working practices.
As a result, the council has been taking steps to incorporate UPRNs into all their back-office systems. The council has a project manager who guides the business on the journey of the integration process, scoping out requirements, engaging with suppliers and persuading the business of the benefits and cost efficiency savings integration can bring. Some systems are already compatible and accept the LLPG, with an available field in which to input or integrate the LLPG information. These system owners were approached first; due to being LLPG compliant but may still be consuming it through a manual process driven way. These were classed as their ‘quick wins’, to automate this process, and integrate with the centralised address gazetteer. Other systems within the council are still going through a data cleansing process or don’t have fields that can consume information from the LLPG – but this is expected to change, as the benefits of integration are realised.
Some systems also hold many duplicate records, which can create a problem. To overcome this, the GIS team, working collaboratively with the LLPG Team, run the data through several quality-control processes until one definitive record of addresses exists at the required standard.
A self-serve address lookup has been developed by the GIS Senior Developer. This enables a view of the LLPG address to be spatially represented, allowing a user to specify a polygon and export a report of addresses within that polygon to generate mail merges using the address data or for those who simply need to access UPRNs from time to time to manually enter into back-office systems. This ensures all users within the council can access addressing and UPRNs through its corporate GIS and incorporate this valuable identifier into their business data.
The GIS team has also encouraged the use of the UPRN by sharing details about how it works, why it’s so important, and what the achievable benefits can be. A presentation was delivered to the Chief Executive to ensure the message came from the top of how we understand each resident who uses Walsall’s services by linking our internal datasets to enable us to share and analyse our customer requirements to optimise operational processes.
There are many case studies on the GeoPlace website that illustrate processes in different scenarios, common to most local authorities, in which integration UPRNs have realised tangible benefits. The team delivered several presentations that highlighted the benefits of address data and the importance of getting the UPRN into Walsall’s back-office systems. They also encouraged the implementation of UPRNs if new systems are being introduced. The GIS team found that this increase in awareness made other teams approach them more and improved the understanding within the council around how the UPRN can provide a core backbone and link between systems.
UPRNs also proved to be a key element in Walsall Council’s response to Covid-19. It enabled the council to identify vulnerable individuals and share that information with the relevant teams and individuals to provide the support needed.
Outcomes and benefits
Walsall Council is at the early stages of its integration journey. However, it is widely acknowledged that the integration of UPRNs is expected to deliver immense benefits as that journey progresses. The main aim is to get a single ‘golden thread’ of address data woven into systems that connect with customers’ details. If duplicate services are being delivered to a resident, this integration will enable the council to identify that and rectify the situation. The council uses PowerBI dashboards to monitor the success of services, by incorporating UPRNs in the systems, enabling more consistent and accurate reporting.
Data consistency around addressing is a key focus for the council and UPRNs are valuable in achieving this. The council is still at the stage of encouraging the use of UPRNs, but the plan is to have all systems automated and have no systems running on manual entry. The GIS team is enforcing standard implantation of UPRNs to every tender process. At a local level Walsall Council is doing everything they can to integrate UPRNs into back-office systems to provide a single golden thread of address data. However, the team also believes that having a policy on UPRNs in core platforms set by central government would provide a stronger position for local authorities.
The GIS team also found that having a project manager is key in their integration journey. The project manager gets sight of all new projects within the council and, where possible, encourages the consideration and integration of UPRNs in systems oriented to that project. Local authorities are always considering means of efficiency and resource savings, we believe UPRNs are key to this.
Tracy Lister- Strategic Geospatial Development and Support Manager, Walsall Council, [email protected]