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Improving confidence in streetworks everywhere – reviewing the SWA code list

Blog posted by: Richard Groombridge, Product and Data Development Manager at GeoPlace, 22 September 2020.

If you don’t have a unique Street Works Act (SWA) code, then you cannot carry out works in the street – but the list of SWA codes itself must be usable, dependable, and authoritative.

SWA Codes (also known as Department for Transport Data Capture Codes), are as fundamental to the management and coordination of streetworks as Unique Street Reference Numbers (USRN). Allocated as and when they’re needed to authorities and statutory undertakers, the SWA code list defines which organisations are actually capable or have the authority to carry out works in the street. However, that list had not been reviewed for some time. Therefore, we undertook a complete review and rebuild of the SWA code list, using our experience in data management to overcome some inherent challenges.

The background

Each organisation is given a four-digit code, with an alphanumeric prefix, which identifies them clearly at all stages of the street works process. Technically, this is much easier and more efficient than using department or organisation names, but the issue of a code also reassures other stakeholders that the teams in questions are appropriately licensed and authorised to be undertaking street works. Confidence and authority are the foundations on which successful, efficient works are organised via noticing or permitting. 

Any organisation that has statutory powers to work in the street can apply for a code. Most of the time, their authority comes from the Highway Act, the New Road and Street Works Act (NRSWA) or Traffic Management Act (TMA), although others are possible. Organisations that would need a code fall into three broad areas:

  • Local authorities
  • Statutory undertakers
  • Other government or statutory bodies

Under the Electronic Transfer of Noticing (EToN) process, organisations with a code could send notices and permits of intent for works in the street. EToN has been superseded by the Department for Transport’s Street Manager and SWA codes are now needed for access instead.

Unless they are contracted to do so by an organisation that does have one, an organisation without an SWA code can’t access the National Street Gazetteer (NSG) to plan or raise an intent for works.

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