Intelligent Addressing Supports European Address Infrastructure

By Joe Francica

Intelligent Addressing (IA) is Britain's sole representative in the EURADIN (EURopean ADdresses INfrastructure) project. The EURADIN project, which runs over two years, aims to contribute to the harmonization of European addresses, propose solutions for interoperability and access, and facilitate the creation of new value added products and services across Europe. Directions Magazine Editor-in-chief Joe Francica contacted IA to get more details on its involvement in the project and the impact on INSPIRE, the European-wide initiative for spatial data infrastructure. Gayle Gander, head of marketing for IA, provided the following interview.

Joe Francica (JF): Would you characterize the EURADIN project as one that will attempt to create a new addressing system or convention that overlays the existing addressing fabric for each European Union country? That is, will EURADIN attempt to standardize a new addressing system, thereby replacing the addressing scheme that exists today?

Gayle Gander (GG):
At the moment, there isn't anything in existence that could be considered a European Address Infrastructure. EURADIN aims at constituting a Best Practice Network to promote European address harmonization. The emphasis of the project is in defining how to harmonize access to existing address datasets rather than creating any new pan-European addressing system. The aim of the project is to provide guidance to enable the interoperability of existing address data and to work out a strategy on how to build up access services to national or regional address infrastructures.

The project's main result will be a proposal for a European Address Infrastructure and the implementation, testing and validation of a pilot European Address Infrastructure. The results will then be used as a reference for all European Member States to fulfill the INSPIRE recommendations with respect to addresses. EURADIN will work with the outputs from the expert Addressing group within INSPIRE, and so seeks to complement and facilitate its implementation. This means that EURADIN is absolutely not about creating a new addressing system, rather taking the output from INSPIRE and facilitating its principles throughout Europe to enable greater access, reuse and exploitation of European addresses.

JF: What precipitated the creation of the EURADIN project? Was this simply a case that the INSPIRE program could not move forward without acknowledging that a European spatial data infrastructure had to include a common addressing scheme? Or did it have more to do with developing a system for vehicle navigation?

The INSPIRE Directive is due to start transposition in European Member States from May 2009, so under European law every Member State will need to ensure that it can meet the requirements of the Directive. Addresses are crucial for many reasons, including for governance, business and for the citizens who use addresses to navigate their way, day-to-day. Therefore a good address system and the availability of high quality address information are fundamental to the effective running of society.

The partners within EURADIN came together with the common belief that it would be possible to provide access to all European addresses through a single central hub. INSPIRE had already recognized the importance of addressing by including address data as one of its "Annex 1" spatial data themes. EURADIN is simply building on the importance of an address infrastructure as already acknowledged by INSPIRE. Commercial realities should never be far from top-level thinking with regard to such projects, however, at this stage, there are no plans to directly commercialize the outputs from EURADIN.

JF: Will Intelligent Addressing be working with the Ordnance Survey on this project? What role will each play in supporting the UK's role in EURADIN?

IA is the sole UK partner involved within the EURADIN project, which has 30 participants from 16 countries working on nine different work packages.

The partners involved in the project are the main European stakeholders and experts in addresses. As the sole UK partner, IA won't be working directly with Ordnance Survey in developing the Addressing Infrastructure. But once the pilot European Address Infrastructure is published, IA would be happy to provide any additional guidance to OS to enable it to meet the outputs of the project and the implementation of the addressing requirements from INSPIRE.

JF: What specific technology and work product will IA provide to the EURADIN project coordinators?

Unusually, IA qualifies as a partner in EURADIN on three counts; as a content provider, a public sector user, and a technology partner providing unique experience and insight based on its involvement with the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) since 1999.

As a recognized expert in this field, IA is involved in four of the nine work packages: Data, Metadata, Dataflow and Business Models. On the Data Work Package, IA is one of the few organizations that have experience in modeling, developing and implementing dual language addressing solutions, which are of significant importance in this project. The Metadata and Dataflow Work Packages allow other EURADIN members to glean information from how Great Britain has implemented a "regionalized" version of ISO 19112 through the British Standard BS 7666 parts 0, 1 and 2. Finally, the input from IA into Business Model Work Package provides an opportunity to provide essential feedback on the complexities of data licensing, data sharing and the commercial pressures which the EURADIN solution will come under while sharing data across international boundaries and between governments.

JF: What do you envision to be the end product of your participation toward the completion of the technical pilot? Will you be delivering an addressing schema, metadata, parcel fabric? All of the above?

We consider that the project will be successful if the results achieved are used as reference for all European Members States to fulfill the INSPIRE recommendations regarding addresses and that address information is made more widely available through a portal mechanism such as a central access point.

The work that IA does with addresses is already based on the British Standard BS7666 and the International Standard ISO 19112, and we don't believe that there is a need to create yet more schemas for addresses. Our work is directed on the four specific work packages described above and IA hopes that the data standards and technological advances already made within GB through the NLPG and National Street Gazetteer (NSG) initiatives can be extended to accommodate the requirements of the wider European area rather than a completely new framework. Obviously there will be some compromises along the way with such a wide variance in addressing standards across all the member states, but with open data standards and Web technologies common to a global marketplace any data transformations should be somewhat easier to implement.

JF: Please feel free to provide any final thoughts on the project and its objectives or its impact on European commerce.

IA is a passionate believer that information should be made accessible and available and that public sector information in particular should be made available for reuse and exploitation by organizations that can add value to the data for the benefit of the European economy. As a company that was set up to work with address data and work with local government to develop the NLPG, we well understand the value of address data to government and to business and believe that the objectives of EURADIN complement our own ethos.

Published Friday, September 26th, 2008

Written by Joe Francica

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