More thoughts about OSMA and Addressing

Bit late with last week’s update due to trying to get my head round the intricacies of possible funding model for the OSMA replacement and what PinPoint  might mean for addressing and then strolling into the realms of “is there a relationship between the two?”.  Again I stress that any ideas in this posting are my own personal thoughts and are not based on any information that is not in the public domain.

OSMA first though.  We did get a magnificent response to the questionnaires and we have a rock solid case to say that the Scottish public sector requires OS mapping to carry out its business as it supports almost everything that we do.  We know that there is no currently no creditable alternative, unless someone crowd sources field boundaries, fences and roads in the middle of nowhere, otherwise and more accurately referred to as our beautiful Scottish countryside.  And while we are on this topic, don’t think that you’ll see it from the air due to our beautiful Scottish weather – one clear day every 3 years would be to die for but only if your plane is in the right place.  I digress.

We need OS mapping and we know that it does come with a cost.  What we are grappling with are two simple questions:  what is the right price and how do we pay for it?  Almost all of the 65% who responded to our questionnaire expressed concerns that the existing funding model was illogical, inequitable and unacceptable.  If anyone has any ideas for a funding model that meets these criteria please post it into the forum – quickly.  So far we’ve looked at organisations’ areas, population, number of features, turnover, flat fees and cannot see any sensible apportionment.  Any thoughts will be considered.

In the midst of the above I have been following some of the debate about addressing on Twitter , now that Royal Mail have thrown done the gauntlet (or £30M down the drain according to some views).  I said last week that I had never understood how anyone could have seriously expected a National Address Gazetteer to be developed on a sustainable base without Royal Mail.  Those of you who have been in the wrong place at the wrong time may have heard my suggestions that the only way to create a true National Address Gazetteer is for Local Government, Royal Mail and Ordnance Survey to work together.

This is how I think it could work.  Local Government creates addresses.  Royal Mail allocates postcodes.  OS provides the base mapping that local government uses to geo-references the object being addressed.  Some objects fall outside this which if fine, but let’s see who is best placed to collect what extra information that the nation needs, but most fall within the above process.  If the triumvirate then thought about the information flows required to support this model and invested in the required modern ICT infrastructure to jointly manage this resource it would generate massive savings.  One could say that the cost on this investment would be a fraction of the currently proposed duplication of effort, but that would be too easy a pop.   I have a rough idea where the figures come from, but I understand that the cost of maintaining PAF is roughly 10 times that of maintaining AddressBase (£22M v £2.3M).  If all involved were pushed to expose their true costs now, the obvious inefficiencies would be exposed and a national view could be taken of the true cost of maintaining addressing ntionally, a decision could then be taken as to the true cost to GB in making addressing an Open Data products at the heart of most spatial applications but with those involved in the maintenance of the dataset being funded accordingly.  No-one is going to make addressing an Open Data product with the hugely inflated cost the current situation makes inevitable.  Even if it wasn’t to become Open Data it would be a sensibly priced government monopoly – it that a bad thing?  I am probably aware as anyone of the external pressures involved here but is there not something in this argument?

Oh, yes finally – if addressing was cheaper would OSMA cost as much?


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Former Member 7 Years Ago
from my previous experaince running the PAF I believe that the costs are inflated by in excess of 300%. In the mid 80's our costs where running at about £2m per year however this included: creating and printing 120 paper directories on a 2 year cycle Paying for a share in two mainframe computers a major upgrade project from tape to tape to disc based computing a newly introduced programme of Data Quality improvement. It didn't include supplying and supporting as many customers however with current technology it would be hard to spend £50k on hardware and software to hold the PAF it is after all a very very simple file and in modern terms very small. Today supplying customers is cheap even if we disregard "the Cloud" and FTTP the cost of production, packaging and dispatch of 50k copies of the PAF could be achieved for less than £90,000 or £1.80 per copy. All in all it is difficult to see how £20m+ can be spent, I would like to see the accounts!