As we edge further forward with relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, large events and gatherings, if not postponed or delayed, are still currently being held in virtual environments. This was the case for the GeoPlace Annual Conference 2021 – Places for People, that took place last week, an event that Geomni were pleased to sponsor.
Over the two days delegates were treated to an interesting agenda which included talks from industry leaders such as Christopher Pincher MP, Minister for Housing and Thalia Baldwin, Director of the Geospatial Commission and several data management leads from various Local Authorities.
The presentations covered a range of subjects and topics, but there was one message, touched upon by several people, that really stood out. UPRNs (Unique Property Reference Numbers) have played a vital role in the response to COVID-19 from local authorities across the country. The pandemic bought with it an unprecedented need for mass data integration with the Newport City Council Intelligence Hub Manager, Shaun Powell, stating that when the outbreak hit they had to integrate around 200 geospatial datasets and systems in order to plan and deliver support to the most vulnerable people and to help the country try to curb the devastating effects of the virus.
The ease of integrating data that included UPRNs contrasted with the challenges of matching addresses. The message from the conference was that, at least in the early stages of the crisis, local authorities often had to augment data from Central Government, by adding UPRNs to make it easier to integrate datasets automatically. For more information on UPRNs and their relationship to addresses and buildings, please read our recent blog posts – When you need to know more than just the address and How many tall buildings are there in London?
While Local Authorities have been leading the way in delivering local COVID-19 response, the pandemic has helped to highlight the power and benefits of mass data integration. The Government are looking at ways to harness this for the future and improve current, often outdated processes. The Minister for Housing touched on plans to use UPRNs for housing in the same way that VIN numbers are used for vehicles. The potential for improved and standardised property transaction services was highlighted and future requirements for building safety and energy efficiency will also benefit. You can find out more about meeting 2050 Carbon goals in our blog post The critical role of buildings in achieving net zero.
The GeoPlace conference always highlights the benefits of integrating data using standard identifiers like the UPRN. The practical examples of local responses to the COVID pandemic brought this home and into perspective. It is hoped that in the future all datasets relating to addresses and buildings will include these standard and open identifiers to speed up data integration and decision making.