Version 1 deploys €500k geographic system for NI

4 Aug 2004

Dublin-based IT consultancy Version 1 has implemented a €500,000 database deployment containing the precise geographic location and the exact postal address of every home and business in Northern Ireland.

The company won the contract against competition from other prominent Irish IT consultancies. Entitled Pointer, the system is being developed with the joint support of the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, Royal Mail, and the Valuation & Lands Agency in conjunction with local councils. The project was undertaken in collaboration with ESRI in the Republic of Ireland.

The aim of Pointer is to establish a definitive database of standardised spatially referenced addresses which will be an infrastructural cornerstone of joined up government in Northern Ireland.

Pointer will provide the hub for accessing and sharing address related information within and between multiple organisations. It will provide infrastructural support to private and public sector organisations alike; will allow quick and accurate sharing and analysis of data and will support a host of value added applications.

At the moment there is no one complete authoritative database of Northern Ireland addresses, nor is there a commonly agreed standard for address information. As a result there are currently estimated to be at least 200 different address datasets in use in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, each of which is separately managed and maintained.

“This results in inefficient duplication of effort in collecting and maintaining address data; it inhibits the ability to share address related data and it works against the ethos of joined up government,” said Gareth McGrath, Pointer project manager, Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The project had two phases. The objective of the first phase included the development and implementation of the infrastructure required to support the creation of the address database, to support the consolidation of the information on each address from the different sources through a process of complex data matching and to support the ground validation undertaken to ensure the accuracy of the dataset.

The objective of the second phase was not only to consolidate the existing address maintenance system but also to automate the address lifecycle, to maximise the collaboration between the Pointer stakeholders and to create an open platform for the distribution of address products.

“Implementation of Pointer throughout the public and private sector will enable address data to be centrally maintained, updated and then accessed by, or disseminated to all address users. This will ensure accuracy and consistency of use, will eliminate maintenance of duplicate address databases, and will enable data sharing and improved data analysis,” said Tom O’Connor, consulting director, Version 1.

By John Kennedy