The Scottish Street Gazetteer
Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives
Over the last three years, the Improvement Service has worked alongside all 32 Scottish local authorities, the Office of the Scottish Road Works Commissioner, Transport Scotland and Network Rail to develop and grow Scotland’s national Street Gazetteer. The Street Gazetteer contains intelligence relating to the ownership, maintenance and composition of the streets within Scotland. It also records attribution that is of interest to those working on the road; capturing features such as bridges, apparatus contained under the road surface and much more.
The Improvement Service set out to improve the breadth and quality of the data captured, through supporting those managing the data and developing the dataset as a national, collective entity. This submission summarises the development of Scotland’s national Street Gazetteer from conception to delivery, and then to a position of business as usual thereafter, and illustrates why the development of the Street Gazetteer represents a blue-print for collaboration, information-sharing and data-linking.
The national Street Gazetteer is an amalgamation of the vital street data that is managed by Scotland’s 32 local authorities, the nine Transport Scotland maintenance contracting companies and Network Rail. The information is created to a set of standards, known as the One Scotland Gazetteer (OSG) Conventions. Once compiled
and validated, the published national data is used throughout government as a networking tool for route planning (for example, refuse collections, safe routes to school, and winter gritting), as well as playing a vital role in populating the Scottish
Road Works Register.
Scotland’s Street Gazetteer also flows into Ordnance Survey’s MasterMap Highways product suite – from where it is accessible to the commercial sector.
What are the key achievements?
Single Authoritative Source
The national Street Gazetteer successfully sources and collates data from 41 separate supplying organisations. Once validated, the data is served seamlessly as a webservice or download and is made available to licensed members of the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement and to commercial users through Ordnance Survey’s Highways, thereby enabling service improvement and efficiencies for those consuming the data. Although the data is created by different organisations with differing business needs and characteristics, the information is managed to a single, authoritative set of data management conventions, thus ensuring consistency and quality. These data entry regulations are based on the British Standard relating to geographical referencing (BS 7666-1) and are written, maintained and agreed by the Scottish gazetteer data community, ensuring their relevance and currency. The OSG Conventions continually evolve in tandem with the developing technology and requirements of the physical environment that they represent. The data and intelligence supplied to the national gazetteer is monitored by the Improvement Service through rigorous validation via over 600 data quality verification tests. The Improvement Service delivers a support role to those contributing the information, providing training, coaching and guidance, as well as a support desk for responding to technical and legislative queries.
Each street is defined by a Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) – a persistent and unique identifier. The USRN allows street data to be shared across internal and external partnered organisations and for each participant to benefit from a consistent and authoritative reference. The data is created once by those best placed to do so, and then shared abundantly, where it is able to be utilised by any organisation with an interest in Roads and their characteristics. The USRN significantly enhances the interoperability of the Street data that it underpins and allows it to be applied to a wide array of service delivery areas. In 2020, the Improvement Service, GeoPlace, Ordnance Survey and the Geospatial Commission agreed the release of the USRN, and its associated line geometry, under an Open Government Licence – vastly opening up access to this key identifier.
The USRN also underpins the Corporate Address Gazetteer, and by extension, the national land and property gazetteer along with Ordnance Survey’s Address Base product suite. This ensures that every property in Scotland is referenced to the relevant road.
Rich Data Intelligence
In addition to a directory of all the streets with a geographic area, supplementary information relating to each road is captured. This includes, who is responsible for maintaining the road, what surface material it is comprised of, and any special characteristics or features that would be of interest to a utility or telecommunication company who may be required to work on the road. In January 2022, Scotland’s national Street Gazetteer comprised 184,909 streets and 401,215 associated street features. The Improvement Service has implemented over 600 data quality validation checks so as to ensure that each roads authority is able to improve their data quality and comply with the OSG Conventions.
How Innovative is your initiative?
The Street Gazetteer is one of the most critical datasets that exists in the public sector, providing the underlying road network on which so much service provision relies. The creation of a national Street Gazetteer using locally defined identifiers allows each local authority to retain ownership of their data and share it nationally for others to use as well. The hosting and technical infrastructure of the national Street Gazetteer was created at inception at the Improvement Service, where the processes and policies were incorporated into a new database, and submission portal.
The beneficiaries of the model and vision of Scotland’s Street Gazetteer are the dataset users. While it is not possible to list all the users and applications of the data, the following key use cases illustrate the relevance and value of the dataset. The Scottish Road Works Register is the tool used by all roads authorities, utility and telecommunication companies to register notices for roads and equipment maintenance. The national street gazetteer is fundamental to underpinning the Scottish Road Works Register, allowing users to identify;
– who is responsible for maintaining the road,
– the level of traffic that uses the road, critical for reinstating the road to the correct standard after any works have concluded, and
– any engineering issues that may be faced when undertaking the excavation and latterly the reinstatement of the road.
The process of registration of notices allows the Office of the Scottish Road Works Commissioner to be able to schedule and combine roadworks to minimise disruption for each particular road. The National Street Gazetteer also feeds into the Ordnance Survey Highways product suite. OS Highways covers all roads and footpaths in Great Britain and is available to members of the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PGSA), which includes the majority of public bodies across Great Britain. It also commercially available to the private sector. Local authorities may utilise the Highways product in their processes and systems for service provision and analysis using the complete national roads dataset, allowing the use of data beyond the boundary of the roads authority. The gazetteer community’s diligence in getting their data into this product means that the whole community benefits for the reuse.
What are the key learning points?
Growing the Data Community
The resourcing challenges of local government require no introduction; however, it is against this backdrop that the Street Gazetteer has developed and gone from strength to strength. This has required the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders, and is supported by a Partnership Agreement between the Improvement Service those supplying the data. Additionally, the establishment of a community of data providers, involving the convening of individual, regional and national meetings and ensuring peer support, have all been vital to the successful functioning of the Street Gazetteer.
The Street Gazetteer data emanates from every Scottish roads authority, meaning that those with the access to the most accurate and up to date sources of intelligence, create the data at source. This entrusts those best-placed to create and manage the information, thereby ensuring that it is created once and is as up to date as possible.
The Improvement Service ensures that every individual piece of information conforms to a consistent schema, within a framework that promotes consistent data entry and information sharing. This is ensured by stringent logic and database compliance rules upon data submission to the One Scotland Gazetteer portal. The published information is then shared seamlessly to licensed users, negating any need for those end users to create and manage their own address or street information; ensuring one definitive source of the truth. This delivers real key benefits; notably preventing duplication and resource inefficiency, and making cross-organisation analysis seamless through use of a common identifier. The final piece to the cycle, is the facilitation of feedback loops for all users, ensuring continual improvement of the data at source.