Addressing the nation with OS Places

13 Nov 2014 01:58 PM

In the three months since its launch this summer, OS Places, a secure, scalable and resilient address lookup web service from Ordnance Survey, has already become an important tool to a growing number of public and private sector clients.

Hosted in the cloud, OS Places connects clients’ existing software to over 38 million addresses, the single most comprehensive, regularly maintained and accurate address database for Great Britain.

Miranda Sharp, Ordnance Survey’s Head of Commercial Business, explains: “There was a strong business need for us to develop and release OS Places. Market research pointed out that businesses and organisations using out of date and inaccurate addressing were losing a lot of custom through simply not being able to appropriately service customers at inaccurately captured addresses. The research also highlighted major operational inefficiencies. For instance, it revealed how businesses and organisations were losing significant amounts of money by sending correspondence to either the wrong addresses or addresses that do not exist, and by posting the same piece of correspondence more than once to the same address.

“The OS Places solution of providing clients accurate and up-to-date information rectifies these and other issues. By being available through the cloud to our clients it also means they do not have to worry about owning and maintaining expensive servers and uploading address data from a disc that is out of date the moment they do so.”

OS Places has been designed to easily integrate with client-side web and mobile applications and GIS software, enabling organisations and businesses that need to capture and verify an address to do so quickly and correctly. By making it available through mobile devices means users in the field can search and find in real-time specific addresses, the precise locations of properties, assets and objects, from wherever they are located. This is an essential feature to many users who rely on this data as part of their business and operations, for example, the emergency services who need trusted national addressing data to ensure they can effectively respond to emergency calls.

The GeoSearch functions of OS Places also allow users to create a common operating picture of where people live, work or play within a vicinity by identifying precisely all property and business occupiers within a given distance from a location.

Another facet of OS Places is its ability to efficiently manage existing address databases by keeping them up to date and accurate. By filtering an existing address database through OS Places, businesses and organisations dramatically reduce or remove the opportunity for and expense of wrong and duplicate addressing.

Patrick Bell, Information Systems Team Leader at British Geological Survey, says: “OS Places has streamlined the provision of our web-based geo-services. We are now able to offer our customers site-specific geological assessment reports without the costly and time-consuming overhead of managing addressing software and data updates”.

Michael Gordon, Technical Manager at Ordnance Survey, says: “The process of using our web service is remarkably simple. All that’s required is for a client’s software or application to send a request for address information (a postcode, say) to the OS Places service via the Internet; what comes back is a package of information with the requested address data, which can then be viewed by the user. As these things go, this is about as easy as it gets. And because our web services are operating system and programming language neutral, our service can be used anywhere. It can easily be placed in front of anybody who talks to customers, because it works in business software, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, web and mobile applications.”

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Notes to editors

OS Places features AddressBase Premium, the most comprehensive and accurate geospatial address database in the country. It comprises of 38.7 million address records where people live, work or play. This includes 28.1 million Royal Mail PAF addresses. An additional 3.1 million ‘occupiable’ local authority addresses that Royal Mail does not deliver to. A further 3.9 million ‘lifecycle’ addresses, which for example include building plots that have had Local Authority planning permission, but are not yet built, homes that have been renamed or have had a postcode change. There are also 3.6 million other address records of places where people don’t live – like churches, garages or libraries plus the address location of essential assets such as electricity sub stations and telephone kiosks.

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