04 Mar 2021

West Yorkshire Councils collaboration with the emergency services is leading to better quality location data

By Simon Bailey, Strategic Relationship Manager @simonbearbailey and Gayle Gander, Head of Marketing @gaylegander

Protecting the vulnerable and despatching resources to the right location is essential in an emergency situation. So many split-second decisions are based on data quality.  In the simplest terms, poor quality and inconsistent location data costs lives. 

This has been even more important in the past 12 months when Covid-19 has changed the everything. With increased pressure on emergency services, the reliance on top quality and up-to-date data has been essential. 

Information on property and street location is invaluable to the emergency services; from the quick responses needed to get to those most affected by the virus, from ambulances transporting people to hospital, to rapidly dealing with breaches in restrictions and helping minimise the spread. The emergency services have been putting their lives at risk more than ever before and the least we can do is give them the best available data possible - giving them the insights they need to protect the citizens and society.  

The emergency services have been working with partners in West Yorkshire Councils to try to gain essential insights and provide information to their front-line colleagues. The councils have used those insights to further improve the data submitted to GeoPlace for inclusion in Ordnance Survey’s AddressBase for reuse across the public sector and beyond. 

A community protecting the community 

A collaboration covering Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, Calderdale, and Kirklees Councils came together in the early to mid-2000s to help standardise and provide a uniform approach to managing their address and street information, knowing it was important to try to provide consistency across all their community service. The emergency services, seeing the value of this work joined the collaboration shortly afterwards, and the West Yorkshire Group became firmly established. The introduction of OS AddressBase was a real driver for collaboration; for the first time, the councils and the emergency services all used the same address data. The councils worked to help the emergency services understand the data better and all parties benefited. 

Collaboration with the emergency services quickly highlighted a number of both practical and important opportunities around building great geospatial data. This enabled the stakeholders to better define their requirements, explore what data is needed in some of the most common scenarios and the best practices could be shared. Because of this forethought and common desire to serve their community, West Yorkshire Councils and their working partners have been well prepared for the recent coronavirus pandemic and have been able to quickly overcome many issues that were thrown at them.  

“Accurate data is a necessity to protect the vulnerable. We need to dispatch the resources to the right location; poor location data could cost lives” Ben O’Hara from, West Yorkshire Police 

Examples of joint working include intelligence on shop names changing being passed from beat officers who are out and about, on the streets every day. They have also identified residential properties that have been split into flats - some of which may have been done without the necessary permissions. 

The mutual enthusiasm for recording good data alongside the more personal approach, has meant the data is being managed efficiently, with the people who need to be involved being able to ask each other questions directly. When there is a property query, the emergency services know that it is in everyone’s interest to liaise with the local authority and provide enough information and evidence to get updates to the records. Those contacts are also able to forward intelligence to the necessary departments within the council. 

The results 

The strength of established relationships has increased the efficiency of operations and resulted in better quality data that everybody can use. Feedback from the emergency services on individual addresses has enabled the councils to improve the quality, and also encouraged everybody to take a holistic approach to problem solving.  

Good data is so important, but the local partnership and close relationships have been shown to be equally as valuable.  


Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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