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3D Visual Intelligence Blog

When you need to know more than just the address

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AddressBase is the definitive address dataset for Great Britain created and maintained by three organisations

Geoplace, who bring together address information from local authorities who have responsibility for creating and maintaining addresses in their area.

Royal Mail who maintain postcodes and

Ordnance Survey who publish the data and are responsible for ensuring consistency of address locations

The involvement of Royal Mail highlights the main historic use of an address. The postcode was primarily designed for delivering letters and parcels, but address data has developed from that initial need. Today deliveries, utilities and many other services including identify checks depend on address data. Increasingly organisations are using the Address identifier UPRN (Unique Property Reference Number) to integrate address data with other databases and help deliver and improve services.

It is not surprising that addresses have become the way to identify buildings, but if you have an address – what do you know about that building? Indeed, do you know that the address relates to a building at all? The key issue is that there is not a one to one relationship between buildings and addresses.

There are addresses that do not relate to buildings at all. For example, places of interest, recreation grounds, cemeteries, electricity sub-stations …

There are buildings with many addresses, offices, and blocks of flats for example. The parent UPRN in AddressBase indicates that there are multiple addresses associated with one location which is typically one building.

There are groups of buildings with a single address, for example schools, hospitals, and commercial sites, and

There are also many buildings that do not have addresses. For example, domestic outbuildings (garages), Agricultural buildings, classroom blocks in schools. Geomni UKBuildings recognises more than 7 million buildings that do not have an address.

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Buildings with complex uses - (David Stowell / Henry Jephson's House / CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the key characteristics of an address that is of interest to most organisations is whether it is residential or not. AddressBase provides a use code for an address, but in buildings with multiple addresses and uses, it can be challenging to work out what the building is used for. UKBuildings includes a basic use classification for all buildings: Residential, Non-Residential, or Mixed Use.

If you need to know more about a building than its address, then AddressBase has limitations. Linking to Ordnance Survey MasterMap Topography data via the TOID identifier can provide some physical characteristics of a building but often you need to understand more, for example construction characteristics, age, or detailed use.

You may also be interested to know links between buildings, for example, the number and area of buildings on a commercial site, or whether a residential house has a separate garage. The Geomni UKBuildings dataset includes the concept of a site which is an area of land of consistent ownership or land use.

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Multiple buildings grouped by site

It includes both unique building attribute data and maintains the complex relationships between the 30 million buildings, 40 million addresses and almost 24 million sites. We use the UPRN as the common reference to link building, addresses and sites.

This enables our customers to gain insights at the address, building, and site level. For example:

  • In a building with multiple addresses complex building use can be summarised to give a clear indication of how the building is being used, for example ‘Retail with Residential above’.
  • Individual addresses can be described in context of the building, so Flat 1, 6 High Street….. is in a 5-storey building, built between the wars, with an area of 172 metres squared.
  • 4 Portman Close is a standard sized detached residential building with another building associated with it, a garage.
  • UPRN 10070042519 is a modern 2 storey building used by a utility and associated with 12 other buildings on the site.

Using the UPRN within UKBuildings enables our customers to enhance address data with a wide range of attributes, including:

  • Building height and number of storeys
  • Construction materials of roofs and walls
  • Building age
  • Building use

Whatever your challenge: understanding the value of, or making a risk assessment of an address, delivering a service, understanding the energy requirements of an area…enhancing your address data with building insights will deliver results.