Ordnance Survey and GeoPlace have welcomed the Cabinet Office’s call for greater use of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) across the public sector, to support the move towards individual electoral registration (IER).
UPRNs are assigned to address records by local authorities at the planning stage and persist for the lifetime of each and every property across Great Britain. This means that every property is uniquely recorded and can be unequivocally identified by any organisation that holds the UPRN in its own records. Ordnance Survey publishes the UPRNs in its AddressBase range of products.
What that means is that in future we should see much greater use of a unique reference number for properties on the electoral register, making it easier for people to do things like compare how many people are at a property in one year compared to the previous year (very handy for checking a high volume of last minute electoral register changes to see if the numbers of people claiming to be at properties is suspicious). Political campaigners will also find it very useful to help keep their own records in order.
Currently these sorts of comparisons are bedevilled by small inconsistencies in addresses from one year to another, or one source to another, which mean that the same property is not described exactly the same each time. Is therefore 2a Gladstone Avenue one time the same or not as Flat a, 2 Gladstone Avenue the next? With UPRNs those sorts of problems will reduce, making data more accurate and saving on the time and money such data cleaning questions take up.