GeoPlace – Underpinning the 2021 Census
The Census passes in a moment, but its impact is felt for over a decade. In our role at the heart of Britain’s addressing system, GeoPlace has been instrumental in ensuring the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has the right addressing data to run the 2021 Census.
Since 1801, the nation has been setting aside one day every ten years to conduct the census, collecting an understanding of all people and households. It is the most complete source of information about the population we have, and it’s the information that’s used to help define government strategy and make policy decisions (in both the public and private sector), which affect all of our lives. It is estimated that local authorities will derive around £1.8 billion of value from the 2021 Census over the next 10 years; analysing their areas in detail to accurately determine the level of support needed from central government.
Households living at every recorded address are asked to take part, and that means there’s a need to build the mechanism that runs the Census with an authoritative view of all addressing – using the most current data possible. This year, the Census will be using an address list that’s based on Ordnance Survey’s AddressBase Premium product, and made available by Ordnance Survey through the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA).
This is a step-change in methodology, as the previous Census was delivered by using an isolated register of people’s addresses, which the ONS created themselves. Now, however, the value of tapping into the single most up to date and accurate data source has now been realised – but it’s the interoperability of other systems that will benefit from this new approach.
“Councils depend on the Census for their income. That income is what pays for citizen-services, so it’s imperative that every citizen is included. GeoPlace’s work has been pivotal in underpinning the method by which we will all benefit from the 2021 Census.” Nick Chapallaz, Managing Director
By using AddressBase, the ONS is ensuring not only the quality, timeliness and suitability of underlying information, but is also creating a dataset that can be integrated more easily with disparate systems that will want to use the Census’ results. With the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) included in the development of the Address dataset, the 2021 Census will be incredibly valuable when it comes to surfacing and then using those referenced demographics in analysis and decision-making.
It’s important to understand the role of the UPRN here. Its value is rooted in its ability to underpin detailed, complex information pools anonymously. The ONS’s outputs are ideal for statistical research purposes: they enable the government to analyse needs at a macro level, and other organisations to undertake multivariate statistical work at a micro level without needing to worry about using personal data.
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