Buckinghamshire FRS
How accurate addressing helps save lives

If we’re all accessing the same up-to-date address data, then no mistakes can be made.

Matthew Ella


Huge scope for address data errors due to frequent address changes

With over two and a half million address changes in Great Britain every six weeks, the scope for address data errors is substantial. If an emergency service is using poor address data, it can cost lives. Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) uses Idox’s Aligned Assets address gazetteer to ensure the accuracy of its address data.


Difficulty in keeping address data clean and updated

With over two and a half million address changes every six weeks, the scope for address data errors is substantial. The continual development of new houses and estates, house conversions into flats, and the constant rise and decline of businesses, make it difficult to keep address data clean. For emergency services, being able to link historical data to the present address is critical. Imagine, for instance, a member of the public calling in an emergency, but they only know the location as a previous name, such as a pub that’s widely known as The Red Lion, despite it having changed names to The Western Tavern; it’s not hard to imagine the potential danger.


Using Idox’s Aligned Assets address gazetteer to ensure accuracy of address data

Over the last two decades, Idox’s Aligned Assets solutions have supplied over half the fire and rescue services in Great Britain with its specially designed corporate gazetteer to help manage and share accurate address data. Based on the most advanced addressing product available – Ordnance Survey’s AddressBase Premium – all addresses comply with British Standard BS7666, so have their own Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and geographical coordinates. It’s this UPRN that links the multitude of address details from past and present to one single up-to-date address. No matter how often a property name or number, or street name, has changed, if the historical layers are linked by the UPRN, or for streets the Unique Street Reference Number (USRN), the most current address can always be identified.


Enabling seamless integration across systems ensures access to a single, accurate source of address data

Buckinghamshire FRS has been using our corporate gazetteer for several years, and one of its greatest benefits is its ability to integrate with other systems. “Idox’s Aligned Assets gazetteer has enabled integration with other systems, such as our premises risk management system,” says Matthew Ella, Buckinghamshire FRS. “This ensures that our other systems have access to a single, accurate set of address data, allowing a single truth throughout the organisation. If we’re all accessing the same up-to-date address data, then no mistakes can be made. Using a single address through multiple systems also allows analysis to be more efficient.”

In 2016, Buckinghamshire FRS collaborated with Oxfordshire and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services to provide a consolidated Thames Valley Fire Control Service (TVFCS). On behalf of the three fire and rescue services, the TVFCS answers 999 calls and mobilises fire crews to incidents across the Thames Valley, serving a combined population of over two million. With a vastly increased geographical area to service, the accuracy of address data becomes increasingly vital.

As Buckinghamshire FRS was already accessing the most accurate address data through the gazetteer, it was best placed to share that data with TVFCS, enabling crews to be efficiently mobilised across the three services. The process of updating and sharing addresses through this single mobilising system has ensured consistency, reliability and efficiency. This is critical for incidents occurring on county borders, where the nearest fire resource is mobilised to the scene. This single-truth addressing has eliminated any addressing errors for the TVFCS, resulting in better response times.

As part of the collaboration, TVFCS use the Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) to mobilise resources to incidents. This ensures that the resources with quickest response times are mobilised, regardless of the location of the incident or the home station of the resource. The use of AVLS alongside a single source of address data, ensures the fastest possible response to every incident.

To increase efficiency even further, TVFCS has begun to implement the gazetteer’s filtering capability. By eliminating certain irrelevant classifications, e.g. telecommunications masts or cattle grids, the gazetteer can retrieve an accurate address even quicker, resulting in faster responses.

“By finely tuning the gazetteer for the specific needs of your FRS, you can maximise the potential to improve response times”, says Dinesh Thanigasalam, Head of Sales for Address Data Solutions, Idox. Buckinghamshire FRS has further enhanced its use of the gazetteer by purchasing a module allowing it to record and share location-specific information, such as risk data, against a British Standard BS7666 property or street; it can then share this, along with the address, with the attending crews.

As Buckinghamshire FRS strives to increase efficiency and reduce costs, it is applying the same address accuracy ethos to its protection targeting work with businesses, by using the most accurate business data available – 118 Business Names. Matthew Ella continues: “A project that has benefited from improved utilisation of our gazetteer is our protection targeting. We know businesses are setting up, breaking down or just moving premises all the time. With no internal resource to manually identify and update business records, using 118 Business Names means we can correctly identify the current occupiers of commercial premises. The Business Names dataset includes a market sector description for each company. We can build this information into our targeting methodology, along with other datasets, to establish a risk score for each commercial premises.”

Idox acquired Aligned Assets in 2021, bringing together the pioneering Aligned Assets solution with its own built environment software to offer the most accurate and comprehensive address data solutions on the market.

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