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Using the USRN to keep Brighton & Hove lit up

Brighton & Hove Council are linking their street works information with the enhancement of the Street Lighting Inventory, for a more efficient process. This was particularly important to the street works engineers.


Brighton and Hove City Council are a unitary authority running a permit scheme to manage the street works processes.

The council are linking their street works information with the enhancement of the Street Lighting Inventory. The Street Lighting inventory includes details for each street lighting asset maintained by Brighton and Hove City Council, including details of asset type, energy consumption code, location, height etc. The Street Lighting Inventory contains 25,000 structural units. The council have now supplied each with a Unique Street Reference Number (USRN), for a more efficient noticing process.

This case study provides an overview of the benefits achieved through the enhancement, along with the role of the USRN and the Additional Street Data (ASD). It looks at how the data have played a role in the project and how becoming a permit authority has been integrated into the process.


The project originated from the need to create a unified look of streets with location data. This was particularly important to the street works engineers. Engineers previously stayed in the same inspection area for a number of years, but they now work across the whole city and need a constant and consistent update of information.

The permit scheme prevents street works from taking place until the statutory undertaker has requested and agreed a time to work on a highway. The council act as the Permit Authority and provides the permits. It is a significantly more efficient process than noticing and provides the opportunity to make significant economic savings. The council are able to manage their activities on the road network, minimising inconvenience to residents and to prevent unnecessary disruption to road users.


The council had to control certain challenges when starting the project. These included:

  • duplicates – The historic dataset has a number of duplicate references. This occurred because individual numbers were stamped on to lighting structures as the lighting network grew. During the upgrade, each acquired new unique identifications. This involved creating a consistent numbering approach across the whole department
  • engineer role change – Previously street engineers did not move between locations. They were accustomed and well informed of their own locations. After the upgrade, their working areas were altered and route optimised. USRNs from the National Street Gazetteer (NSG) helped with the implementation of mobile working. These along with the use of handheld devices to record inspections, allowed for the implementation of better maintenance schedules.
  • software update – With 25,000 records within the street lighting inventory, it was essential that the new software integrated in to the council systems and could support such large numbers. Training was required, particularly for the engineers working in the field
  • footpaths – Before the task was started, the LSG did not contain the footpaths, but as many of these had street lighting on them, it added to the necessity to record footpaths in the LSG. Having the link to the USRN allows easy referencing to pass this important information on to statutory undertakers. The intention is now to feed this information through to the NSG as Associated Street Data It was vital for the council to ensure all necessary departments, both internal and external, worked together, with the sharing of information.


The solutions implemented by Brighton and Hove Council included:

  • by using the NSG as their single source of data, collaboration between departments was made simpler for Brighton and Hove Council. The USRN was integrated within some of the council's systems and so it was sensible to broaden this usage
  • the council integrated it's lighting replacement schemes in order to ensure no unnecessary work was carried out, and in return no money was lost. For example, any units that were highlighted as ‘due to be removed in the near future' were taken out of the upcoming planned works system
  • the lighting engineers assisted in correctly identifying units within their areas. This made the duplication and maintenance process easier. Routes were optimised based on new accurate information
  • new software was introduced. This made it easier to route optimise the areas involved with the street works
  • by becoming a Permit Scheme Authority, the council were able to manage their activities on the road network. Improving communication, internally and externally.


There are several positive outcomes from the change in the Street Lighting Inventory. These include:

  • 25,000 units allocated a USRN. This resulted in 2,765 USRN for all units. 100% completion rate
  • it is now easier for engineers to identify and locate a fault. Resulting in a quicker reaction time to customers
  • improved safety in areas reliant on street lighting
  • work orders can automatically be created as permits requests. This results in huge time savings
  • streets previously unrecorded have been verified and placed in the NSG
  • significantly improved ASD
  • with the street lighting linked to the USRN, the council are able to make use of the special designations to inform Statutory Undertakers of the lighting network
  • increased awareness of ASD through the street works team.

By having every unit held against the USRN, Brighton and Hove City Council and its street lighting Contractors are able to make use of other associated street data in planning works and applying for permits. For example, everybody now has easy access to find out if a street is legally protected or is traffic sensitive.

Further comments

Jeff Elliott – Brighton and Hove Council Traffic Manager

"The B&HCC Road and street works permit scheme has empowered officers working for the Authority to better manage and coordinate all activities on the road network in the city. These improvements range from shortening works durations to reducing the physical size of the highway occupied to allow works to happen."


Amber Hill ([email protected]) - Research and Communication Assistant

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