AddressBC and ICIS: Building a Common Point Address System for British Columbia

By Ann Archibald

Ed. note: This is the second article written by ICIS staff for Directions Magazine. The previous article, "The ICIS: Achieving Collaborative (Geospatial) Success," was published on April 5, 2010.

The Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICIS) is a unique non-profit organization in British Columbia, Canada that is based on collaboration between local government, provincial government and major utility companies. ICIS members work together to share and integrate spatial data from multiple agencies so that members can access spatial data through ICIS at one central source. In the spirit of this ongoing collaboration, ICIS is continuing its work toward increasing data sharing and integration with the development of the AddressBC project.

The AddressBC project is an ambitious undertaking by ICIS members to build a central, authoritative, point-based address database in British Columbia (B.C.). This database will contain address data that are contributed directly from ICIS local government and First Nation members who are the addressing authorities. This means that ICIS members will collectively create an authoritative, province-wide address database for B.C.

AddressBC is just one of ICIS' initiatives, but it is an initiative that resonates with many people. When compared to the highly technical and polygonal "cadastre" that forms the base for land tenure in British Columbia, addresses are easily understood as discrete points, with clear X and Y coordinates. Yet, despite the simple nature of address point data, many local governments do not currently maintain addressing in point form. As well, local governments that maintain spatial point addressing often maintain different data models based on their own operational systems and business needs. These differences create a patchwork of data types and formats throughout the province where any cross-jurisdictional need for address data cannot be easily met and, in turn, creates a formidable data sharing challenge.

These wide variations in addressing information, structure and formats in B.C. have challenged ICIS members in their efforts to facilitate address data sharing since early 2006. Providing local government members with the tools to easily manage, integrate and share address data is a priority for ICIS members. Beginning with a pilot project in 2007 to identify the requirements of ICIS members, ICIS has continued to clarify and define the AddressBC project and the types of tools necessary to meet the requirements for a province-wide address database.
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In 2008, an AddressBC Request for Proposal was developed and distributed that clearly articulated the requirements of a system solution for an authoritative, accurate and accessible point address database. In early 2009, the contract to build the AddressBC application was awarded to Esri Canada and development has proceeded through 2009 and into 2010.

Supporting the development effort, a data model was also developed through ongoing consultation with ICIS members. Based on the data model developed by the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) in 2005, the AddressBC data model intends to provide a robust and scalable model capable of representing complex address cases, while its simplest form is fully accessible to all ICIS local government and First Nation members.
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Under the AddressBC project, and guided by the AddressBC data model, addressing authorities will be able to choose the most effective method to manage their addressing information. The AddressBC application will provide users with access to interactive editing or batch submissions as well as data export and reporting functions through a secure Web-based application. This will allow those local governments and First Nations participating in AddressBC to use the secure Web-based application for maintaining address data in a format that is easily shared with agencies that rely on accurate, current addressing for their operational needs.

AddressBC will provide a central database for storing, maintaining and distributing address information for ICIS local government members. It will also provide a standardized address information source for ICIS provincial government and utility members that can be integrated into their operational services, plus resources for more effective decision making on a regional and provincial scale.

To meet the diverse business needs and unique operational capacities of ICIS members, the AddressBC application has been developed as a scalable, out-of-the-box solution which has just now entered the User Acceptance Testing phases. ICIS members have once again given their time and effort to help test the performance of the AddressBC system to ensure that all ICIS members can benefit from this solution. Testing should be complete by August and ICIS operations is preparing, with upgraded servers and security, to receive the new application and database solution sometime in September 2010. Roll-out and population of the new address database will be underway when the application goes "live" in ICIS' production environment.

AddressBC development funding has been provided by the provincial government of British Columbia, TELUS and Shaw Cablesystems. A steering committee, which includes representatives from the provincial government of British Columbia, TELUS and Shaw Cablesystems, with advisory input from the RCMP, ECOMM and B.C. local government, oversees the project under the direction of the ICIS board of directors. AddressBC is supported by all ICIS members through their ongoing efforts to successfully share spatial data.

More information on AddressBC including the address data model and technical specifications can be found on the ICIS website.

Published Friday, July 9th, 2010

Written by Ann Archibald

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