Blog by Dan Anslow, Head of Product & Delivery, Veco™
Over the last decade, there has been a quiet revolution in location data. Various tech innovators have developed platforms offering hundreds of data points, sourced from official and trusted providers, from title plans and EPCs to school information and planning history for all UK properties.
Postcodes and street addresses simply aren’t accurate enough to specify precise locations, such as building entrances and don’t exist for parks and many rural areas. This makes it challenging for agents to give utilities, maintenance staff, potential buyers or tenants exact locations for some properties.
Map applications such as Google, Sprift, Waze, Apple and what3words are revolutionising the way agents communicate with clients about location. These services enable agents to give property viewers exact locations for hard-to-find properties, such as large blocks of flats, rural properties and new build developments.
The Government’s Open Data initiative has led to the development of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRN), which are assigned to all properties. If any other datasets fail to recognise an address, the UPRN will always be the unique reference point. Organisations can link records, exchange, and keep their data consistent in any internal tools. This unique numeric identifier is given to every spatial address in the UK, enabling agents to look up all the publicly available data.
The UPRNs have been created by local authorities who have the statutory authority to name and number every street and property and Ordnance Survey, who identify objects on the landscape, which may not otherwise have a postal address. Agents can search for a postcode to see all the UPRNs in the immediate vicinity. Some examples are:
- UPRN 10010457355 – not just a pile of old stones
- UPRN 10000867194 – in the home of “kiss me quick” hats and spectacular illuminations
- UPRN 100023336956 – once owned by one of Oliver Cromwell’s spies
The Royal Mail has the PAF (Postcode Address File) ID, which is also used to look up meter reference numbers for switching energy supplies. This service enables agents to access highly accurate address and postcode, to save time and money and provide a more efficient and professional service to customers.
Incorrect location data can create a myriad of issues for agents, including complications with legal agreements in disputes, such as tenancy agreements and T&Cs; switching of the energy supply; and inconsistences in delivering the correct legalisation, when working between countries eg. England and Wales. Correctly formatted addresses and their reference data also help agents to pin-point locations on maps, for marketing and travel purposes.
Veco™has rounded up the best providers in the locations data space:
- What3Words, a UK digital service that has divided the world into three metre squares and given each square a unique combination of words. It is the easiest way to find and share locations. This location precision is also used by drones, voice-controlled devices and driverless cars.
- Sprift provides up to 250 individual data points per UK residential property, such as planning, flood risk, title plans and broadband connectivity, combining them into a single dashboard. The data is aggregated from official and trusted sources including Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency, Google Maps, Historic England, Ofsted, Valuation Office Agency, HM Land Registry, Ofcom, Office for National Statistics and Royal Mail.
Waze is a subsidiary company of Google that provides satellite navigation software on smartphones and other computers that support the Global Positioning System (GPS). In addition to turn-by-turn navigation, it incorporates user-submitted travel times and route details while downloading location-dependent information over a cellular network. Waze describes its application as a community-driven initiative that is free to download and use.