What we'd like to see
We’re campaigning for free and open address data for the UK.
We think this data should be be:
- Maintained collaboratively
- The statutory responsibility of a single public body
- Funded by central government
- Freely and openly licensed
- Simple, comprehensive data.
We believe that the database should be maintained collaboratively. Anyone should be able to report an error, omission, mistake or request to change an address.
This method will be cheaper and create higher-quality address data. Updates and corrections should be handled in a timely fashion by the appropriate institution(s), with performance metrics.
This approach to maintaining reference data is used by global organisations like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, Waze, and Wikipedia; and national public services like the UK government’s get information about schools service.
The statutory duty of a single body
There should be one definitive version available for download which covers the whole UK.
We are not currently taking a position on which public institution, or institutions, should hold the statutory duty and be funded to make the address database available.
However, we think there should be a statutory duty to maintain and openly publish an address database for the benefit of people in the UK.
This statutory duty provides stronger guarantees that the data will remain free and open, be of suitable quality for its purpose, and have democratic accountability.
The existing statutory duty for local authorities to maintain addresses in their areas would remain in place.
Funded by central government
The public institution should receive adequate funding from the government to maintain this digital infrastructure, just as we expect our government to adequately fund other types of infrastructure like roads, schools and national statistics.
Simple, comprehensive data
The address database should contain the postal address, UPRN, and the latitude and longitude for every property in the UK. All this data is already collected by the public sector.
Freely and openly licensed
By free and open we mean that the address database should conform with the open definition.
This means that anyone can freely access, use, modify, and share for any purpose – subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness. This would allow individuals and businesses to use the data freely.
A note on the risks
Every solution carries risks. We think the risks to this solution are manageable. Other countries have made this data available as a free and open database.
This data is a list of the physical addresses that are recognised by the government. The data already exists and is available for a fee.
Unlike other more sensitive data – such as personal location data or health records – making address data free and open creates few new risks to individuals and communities due to data misuse. Any risks will occur when address data is linked and used with other datasets – such as personal location data or health records. The risks should be managed in those contexts.
There is the risk that changing the existing processes might worsen data quality and availability. This could exacerbate the existing problems. This risk is managed through the new statutory duty, funding, and the capability of the institution that will hold the statutory duty.
Tell us your opinion
Do you have thoughts on our proposed solution?
We’d like to hear from
- third sector bodies
- public sector organisations