Posted by: John Jones
Public Sector Information Holder: The Improvement and Development Agency and The Improvement Service in Scotland
Information Asset: National Land & Property Gazetteer and Scottish National Gazetteer
Many services rely on identifying a particular address in an unambiguous way. A lot of those services also need to know exactly where the address is located.
For example, Matthew's idea for using Electoral Boundary Data would be even more useful if it could identify exactly which dwellings fall either side of a boundary between neighbouring constituencies or wards.
Certain address location products are built on top of the Royal Mail's PAF and marketed by Ordnance Survey which, as a trading fund, might be reluctant to reduce its licence fees for the time being.
Fortunately, local government has invested independently in collecting its own address database and collated two national gazetteers - one for England & Wales and the other for Scotland. Oddly enough, those don't seem to be available either.
My ideal solution
- A web service, accepting a request in the form of an approximate address, with a response consisting of one or more 'definitive' structured addresses which match either exactly or closely plus their coordinates or preferably the shapes of their footprints.
- A web service working in reverse, accepting a request in the form of a location - for example from a GPS receiver - with a response again consisting of one or more nearest 'definitive' structured addresses plus their coordinates or preferably the shapes of their footprints.
- A complete national file of all 'definitive' structured addresses plus their coordinates or preferably the shapes of their footprints. That would allow developers to build their own solutions, without necessarily relying on access to the web services.
What I would do
So many things would become possible, as such a large proportion of information is related to land and property or its owners or occupiers.