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It’s all in the name

NSG Exemplar Award Runner-up – Most innovative use of additional street data 2008: South Oxfordshire District Council.

The provision of Street Name Plates (SNPs) is a statutory obligation for local councils, and along with this obligation comes the responsibility for their monitoring and maintenance.

South Oxfordshire District Council has recently instigated an ambitious project to transform an antiquated paper based system for the ordering and monitoring of SNPs into an integrated map based system that will form the basis of a full asset inventory, facilitate a proactive maintenance programme and enable members of the public to report faults and monitor repair progress online.

The project was inspired by the transfer of the responsibility for SNPs to the gazetteer management team and with it the legacy of weathered, damaged, unmatched and absent signage.

The project was based on the collection of information about the number, type and condition of every SNP in the District. Using maps produced from the council’s GIS showing all Type 1 roads from the NSG the team began the survey exercise.

Each name plate is photographed and its position and orientation marked on the map together with a note of its condition and mounting. The photographs are indexed and the additional information is associated to a USRN and plotted onto the GIS.


One of the uses for the additional intelligence afforded by the data collection process is to support policy development for the future provision of SNPs, an example being the preference to maintain more traditional SNPs in conservation areas. By comparing the plotted SNPs with the conservation area overlay in the GIS the financial implication of such a policy can be considered.

The detailed, spatially referenced asset inventory is also powering further improvements to the provision and maintenance of SNPs in South Oxfordshire. A review of signage for all Type 1 streets is being undertaken to identify areas of inadequate signage, this not only benefits the citizen and businesses but it may, in the case of the emergency services, be the difference between life and death. The Council is also introducing a proactive maintenance programme, targeting weathered or damaged SNPs prior to further deterioration that would require replacement.

To assist with the reporting of damaged or missing signs the council has introduced an online reporting facility. Citizens can simply access the council’s website, identify the sign in need of attention and report the fault. The service also allows visitors to the site to track the progress of the repair or replacement.

Key benefits

  • Well maintained and comprehensive Street Name Plate network benefiting the community, business and emergency services.
  • Interaction and engagement with the community to improve the provision of signage in the district.
  • A complete, accurate, up to date asset inventory to support the introduction of a proactive maintenance programme maximising the use of resources and budget.
  • Intelligence to support policy development, financial planning and future service provision.
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