The Coalition has created a long-awaited joint undertaking between local government and the Ordnance Survey agency to amalgamate addresses into a single register for use by public sector workers and private businesses.
However, such a database will first be subject to scrutiny by the Office of Fair Trading.
Tory MP Eric Pickles, who is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG), announced the project – dubbed GeoPlace – this morning.
Under the plan, GeoPlace will scoop up National Land and Property Gazetteer-maintained Intelligent Addressing, and is expected to be operational from April next year.
“It’s crazy we don’t have one single address list in this country. It makes no sense that both the public sector and businesses have to bear the unnecessary expense of licensing two sets of data, especially in these straitened times,” said Pickles.
“In particular, it is vital that the emergency services can get to people as quickly as possible. Having only one ‘address book’ will make that job easier, deliver vital savings that can be put towards frontline services and bring real benefits for business.”
Products created under the national address database will now form part of the government-funded Public Sector Mapping Agreement for the provision of Ordnance Survey GI data, which won’t be fully implemented by the CLG department until April 2011.
As part of the venture, it has been agreed that the Intellectual Property rights in the National Address Gazetteer are owned entirely by the public sector. IP disagreements have stalled negotiations about creating a single address database in the past.
Today’s announcement also briefly mentioned the Royal Mail’s contentious PAF database, which web developers and other campaigners have repeatedly failed to get opened up for free use.
PAF will “form a key component of the national address gazetteer database”, said the CLG.
In effect, the Ordnance Survey is a value-added reseller of the product, and as such it is obliged as a Royal Mail licensee to abide by the state-owned company’s rigid set of terms and conditions regarding PAF. ®