back to article One address-location database to rule them all

The Coalition has created a long-awaited joint undertaking between local government and the Ordnance Survey agency to amalgamate addresses into a single register for use by public sector workers and private businesses. However, such a database will first be subject to scrutiny by the Office of Fair Trading. Tory MP Eric …


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  1. Bilgepipe
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    "There's a new mood here in the UK, and it's as refreshing as a pre-moistened towelette. People are finally opening up to each other and sharing common Address data amongst institutions that need it, and this programmer says it's about f*cking time."

    /Kent Brockman

  2. Anonymous Coward

    PAF? PAH!

    PAF will “form a key component of the national address gazetteer database”, said the CLG.


    I can only hope that the new database is not designed by the same absolute retards that created the PAF.

    The PAF cannot accept non-numeric characters in the "building number" field, thereby totally screwing up the address of buildings with a hyphen between the numbers.

    Our address has been F.U.B.A.R. in Royal Mail's lame attempt to work around this problem, resulting in often failed credit card transactions, delayed courier deliveries, problems with utility bills and supply and other address-related rejections all due to the correct proper address not matching the totally screwed up incorrect one that is stored in the PAF. Unfortunately, most companies seem to think that they know where we live better than we do ourselves, and they treat the PAF as if it were the divine word of God.

    All that is before you even get into the countless errors in the PAF that Royal Mail flat out refuse to correct.

    The PAF is a shambles.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    other benefits ....

    ... if there's just one database then everyone will record a house under the same address. You frequently read tales of woe of people who've found that they are getting repeatedly turned down for credit cars/loans etc and when they eventually investigate find that they have applied using the address that the post-office uses to describe where they live only to find that various other crucial items needed in a credit check are registered under a subtley different address (e.g. they thought they lived in the "Garden Flat" while everyone else was calling it "Flat A") - even was a case I recall where someone had a mortgage turned down because "that house doesn't exist".

    1. Graham Marsden
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      @they thought they lived in the "Garden Flat"

      I once lived in a house that had been converted into three flats. Out of interest, having had problems with a credit card application, I did some checking with the Post Office, credit reference agencies etc and found no less than *TEN* addresses related to the property: Garden Flat, Basement Flat, Hall Floor Flat, Ground Floor Flat, Top Flat, Flat 1, Flat 2, Flat 3, Number 59 and the name of the Guest House that was converted to flats!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same thing for us

      Put the PAF's arbitrarily-assigned flat number in for us (as such geniuses as the TV Licensing people do), and nobody, including the Postman ever actually finds the flat, but put the actual address in and you (at best) get it rejected as invalid, and more often just get it turned into another flat number entirely. But hey, it's only virtually every tenement in Edinburgh and probably most of Scotland that suffers from this

      1. John Sager

        TV Licensing muppets

        I had no end of trouble with that shower on behalf of my mother-in-law - all due to address confusion. She had a TV licence under the address (in sheltered accommodation) that she knew it as, but the PAF had it slightly different. Hence she periodically got their threatening letters addressed to 'The Occupier' at the PAF address & being an 85yo widow, she got very worried. I eventually worked out what was going on, and explained it to Crapita in words of one syllable, but that had no effect until I wrote to Crapita's chairman and got her MP involved.

        I'm not sanguine about the prospect of getting a clean single database. OK 90+% will be fine, but it's the residue that will cause all sorts of problems, unless they can cope effectively with synonymous addresses, which Crapita were/are signally unable to do.

    3. Blofeld's Cat


      "Unfortunately, most companies seem to think that they know where we live better than we do ourselves, and they treat the PAF as if it were the divine word of God."

      My mother lives in a block of flats at the end of a long street and some bright spark gave the flats the same postcode as the rest of the street. So when firms type in the flat number and postcode the first entry is an entirely different property about half a mile away. Her correct address is at the end of the list but they never bother to scroll down that far - even when she tells them to.

      A satnav also takes you to the wrong place thanks to PAF. A firm even "delivered" her new washing machine to the other property and, thinking she was out, blocked their drive with it to "be helpful".

      When the flat's management committee applied to RM for a different postcode they refused on the grounds that it would be "too confusing".

  4. Christoph Silver badge

    Public for how long?

    "it has been agreed that the Intellectual Property rights in the National Address Gazetteer are owned entirely by the public sector."

    And have they opened the bidding yet for selling it off to the private sector?

    Who will presumably make their profit from the junk mailers.

  5. Mycho Silver badge

    This will be useless

    2001-2005 I lived in a flat alternately addressed as G/L, G/1, flat 1, 93a or 93b. Nobody could agree then and nobody will agree now.

  6. david 63

    anyone remember nlpg

    more holes than a leaky colander...

  7. AJB
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    Good news

    This is a major step in the right direction, rationalising data sets and reducing complexity across the public and private sector. This will save money for years to come and in 10 years we will look back on the current setup in the same way we think now about pounds and pence pre-decimalisation (is that the correct term for it?!).

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing learnt.

    One database, one giant target, one great temptation and a question of time. Absolutely f*&#$$@ stupid.

  9. Mickey Porkpies
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    FREE for all though?

    PAF is useless and not accurate - all of the government address database is maintained and checked by councils you you have paid for the integrety with your council tax. So it should be free yeah?? arse my

  10. mittfh

    Another database...

    As well as PAF and the NLPG, there's also the CTVL (Council Tax Valuation List), which has a lookup facility buried on the VOA's site:

    Another example of the ludicrousness of PAF is that they can't agree on where to put flat numbers. The gazetteer I use at work (part of OLM's CareFirst) used to be populated by PAF (before we realised it was easier and cheaper to do ad hoc 'net lookups), and quite often flat numbers would be located in the Building field (where 'A' and 'B' numbers are also stored), which makes updating the list of flats in a complex a complete PITA. Far better to just manually create the building containing the flats, then allow the social workers to put in the flat name / number as required.

    PAF is also completely hopeless at caravan parks and narrowboats, not to mention being painfully slow to update. CTVL tends to be quicker (why aren't I surprised?) but isn't perfect, and we don't have access to the NLPG.

    Oh, and if you're doing postcode / address lookups on the Royal Mail site, it's stupid enough to use a cookie to determine how many lookups you've done. Navigate away from the site, clear the cookie, and you've got another 6 lookups (not 15 as they claim - once you've used 6 you have to sign up or log in). Their CrAPTCHA is one of the simpler ones out there, but still makes distinguishing C and G hard (0 and O are also almost indistinguishable, but their CrAPTCHA is always three letters followed by three numbers, so you can work out which it's supposed to be.)

  11. Mary Hawking

    Will anyone be able to be ex-directory?

    When the Personal Demographics Service (PDS) was introduced in the NHS and made widely available, it was recognised that for some people (think Animal Rights and Huntingdon Life Sciences), availabity of their address and contact number posed a threat to their personal security - and there is a mechanism for declaring yourself "vulnerable" in the system, meaning that address, phone number and GP are not displayed.

    Will there be similar facilities in the new database, or will it be more like the recently abolished children's database where no opt-outs were allowed?

  12. M.A

    has anyone thought it through

    easier to spy on you!!!!!!!

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