The NLPG Can it be a beacon for a Successful GI Strategy for the UK
Released on: April 23, 2008, 6:13 am
Press Release Author: Carl Hancock, Aligned Assets
Press Release Summary: In a world that is getting smaller through technology it could be easily argued that place does not matter - or at least not as much as it used to. Pensions are now paid directly into the bank accounts of the recipients, car tax is purchased online and often enquiries are better handled via the telephone than in person. As people's lives get busier and time becomes a more valuable commodity it is perhaps little wonder that we live a world of automation, eBay and facebook.
Press Release Body: When looked at like this it might seem as though someone or something's location is no longer important, but whilst communication to China for example might be easy, one can never forget the ground upon which our houses are built, the roads upon which we drive and the rivers that seem to flood every year without fail.
For this very reason, Geographical Information (GI) has formed a foundation stone of many agencies and organisations from planners and engineers, to the military, through to the postal service. The collection of GI data has been happening piecemeal for many years with each institution collating its own and formatting it in ways most useful for its own purposes. These individual collections are useful for their owners but there is the potential that two institutions could independently be sourcing new GI data for themselves whilst all the while a third institution already had that information.
From this was born the concept of a national GI Strategy for the UK, a framework to guide regional and local geographical initiatives. The strategy, motivated by t-government modernisation drives would afford the opportunity to maximise exploitation and benefit from GI.
The lack of common standards across the GI community might seem like a giant crevasse, with no sign of a bridge, but already within the world of GI can be found an example of how such strategy can be successfully implemented.
Initially conceived in 1999, the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) brought together all the address and location data held by local authorities into one national hub. The same issues of compatibility facing the national GI Strategy were faced by the proponents of the NLPG, as well as some resistance by those that had already invested heavily in systems that through the new standards would become obsolete. British Standard BS7666 was the standard set to which all local authorities had to create their Local Land and Property Gazetteers (LLPG), which meant that the data that was previously incompatible was no longer so.
What can be achieved
Naturally though, national initiatives are not proposed simply for the sake of it. Just as the UK GI Strategy is intended to produce results, the true benefits of the NLPG are finally becoming apparent. The data contained within it is the most accurate and up to date available, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the emergency services who recognise the innate benefits that such information can have. As well as benefitting them through greater efficiency, it is the fact that their ability to better locate the site of an emergency that is the key benefit that will ultimately result in the saving of lives.
The UK's FiReControl programme is one such example of how this national strategy is benefitting the wider public sector. Using software provided by gazetteer management specialists Aligned Assets, the nine Regional Control Centres will be able to access the data held on the NLPG and so pinpoint precisely a caller's location, saving valuable time.
In addition to FiReControl, the NLPG has also found usage within the British Transport Police, Transport for London, and the National Parks. Speaking of the commercial applications of the NLPG, Sales and Marketing Manager at Aligned Assets Mike Smith said, "After working in partnership with over 80 local authorities to provide the solutions by which they could manage and export their address data, it's extremely satisfying to be working with organisations that can now access and utilise that data."
Though the NLPG is fully grown now and the GI Strategy is still in its infancy, one is not able to look at them in isolation. In fact, the NLPG is such an integral part of any UK-wide GI Strategy that without it there could be only strategy i.e. a great idea, but no results. With approximately 85% of GI data having an address component it is clear that a significant amount of the groundwork has already been done and that the way forward through it will be much clearer.
There can be little doubt that the roadmap to success for the NLPG has had its twists and turns but the persistence and determination of those leading the way has produced a product that's value will still be recognised for years to come. The same will undoubtedly be true for the UK's GI Strategy - it will take time and a lot of effort. What the NLPG does demonstrate though is that in the long run all the hard work involved in making these national projects viable will all produce results.
When complete, the benefits of this national GI initiative will be realised in numerous aspects of the public and private sector, as well as society at large. The unified approach will lead to much greater efficiency within transactions, which will lead to the considerable saving of time and the economic benefits that stem from this.
So however much technology is making the world smaller, it will also make it more efficient, more universal and more accessible. The GI Strategy needs to harness this technology and those involved need to find the strength to support it every step of the way.
Web Site: http://www.aligned-assets.co.uk/clients/case%20studies/Place%20Matters-NLPG%20April08.pdf
Contact Details: Carl Hancock Aligned Assets Old Woking, Surrey, UK 01483 717951 firstname.lastname@example.org