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What are unique property reference numbers?

The Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) is a simple yet powerful tool. It is the unique identifier for every location with an address across the UK – that makes it pretty exceptional. An addressable building is so much more than just a house, and this is what makes it cool. 

It could be something as simple as a bus shelter, a building, or even an electricity substation. They provide every property or object with a unique number that stays with them from the moment they are built all the way to their demolition. It is a consistent identifier. So, let’s take a look at how they work and why they are useful. 

Who Allocates UPRNs?

UPRNs are allocated by local authorities as well as Ordnance Survey (OS), and they are provided from a range from GeoPlace. The local authorities have permission to name and number every street and property in the UK while also allocating UPRNs to objects. 

What OS does is identify features in the landscape that may not have a normal address and includes them in what is known as AddressBase projects. The central source for UK addresses and streets is GeoPlace, and they work with the councils and highway authorities to approve and create addresses. 

Why Do We Need UPRNs? 

The way UPRNs work is that they are similar to a National Insurance Number but for properties or addressable objects. This code can then be used to form trusted connections between sources of information that share their location as a common characteristic. It is a simple and unique reference point that works even when there are issues with other datasets. 

When organisations add UPRNs to their data, they can link matching records that exist in separate databases together. This reduces the number of errors in data exchange and communication as well as improved efficiency. Many groups already use UPRNs in daily life, including emergency services, central government, insurance providers, and utility companies. 

How is the UPRN Evolving? 

Every organisation in the public sector is allowed to use UPRNs under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement. This is on a royalty-free basis and is completely open. This data is being used by the emergency services, HMRC, the Department of Work and Pensions, and even the Environment Agency to help implement flood plans. It’s an evolution that saves time, money, and even lives. 

To Conclude

UPRNs are a unique and interesting way of mapping the United Kingdom. There are numbers for every addressable property and object, helping us to build a detailed map of what the country looks like. But there is more to them than that, they are also able to help save lives and save masses of time and money in the public sector. What do you think of them? 

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