Secret project considers single address database

The public bodies and companies which control address and property data in the UK have set up a secret project to better...

The public bodies and companies which control address and property data in the UK have set up a secret project to better co-ordinate a raft of e-government projects and improve the quality of online services to the public.

Dubbed Project Acacia, after the archetypal street address, the project brings together the Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Consignia the Registers of Scotland, and Whitehall's Improvement and Development Agency.

One option under consideration by the group would be to link land and address data - including the National Land and Property Gazetteer and the Postal Address File - from the five organisations into a more accessible national database.

One benefit of this would be to help to speed up the house-buying process by streamlining the sharing of land and property data between government departments and agencies.

The project will also try to hammer out agreement on the sensitive issue of intellectual property rights for the sale of address data.

However, industry experts claimed that the existence of Project Acacia was an admission that a string of e-government projects were failing. "This is a recognition that a series of past projects from various government departments [that attempted] to achieve a national address file have all failed to some extent," said Robert James, an independent consultant who used to maintain the Postal Addres File.

The target for getting all government services online by 2005 would hinge on Project Acacia's success, he said.

Project Acacia, led by the Land Registry, does not yet have any specific funding.

A spokesman for the Ordnance Survey said the organisations involved were still exploring the key issues but denied it aim to replace existing address data products.

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