DCLG to create central data pool to boost homebuilding

Communities secretary Sajid Javid claims department is working with the likes of the Land Registry and Ordnance Survey to collate information

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is to create a central digital database of mapping and geospatial data to help build more homes, which communities secretary Sajid Javid has identified as his “number-one priority”.

In a speech in Birmingham, Javid claimed that the DCLG is beginning work on collating data from different sources to put into a central pool that could be used by construction firms and local authorities to better plan and deliver housebuilding projects. 

“My department will be leading work to develop a new digital platform on which we can publish the kind of raw data and interactive maps that are useful to builders, innovators, and entrepreneurs,” he said. “This government has long embraced the principle of open data, and I want to bring that to the housing sector.”

Javid added: “Releasing data locked away in arm’s-length bodies like the Homes and Community Agency, and making it easier to access difficult foundational data like geospatial identifiers. And, although I can’t make any promises right now, I’ll be working with the Land Registry and Ordnance Survey to see what further datasets they can release.”

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Elsewhere in his speech, Javid said that, while councils across the board are embracing a move towards digital services, ageing technology and a lack of standardisation are negatively impacting the quality of the service. The communities secretary that half of UK local authorities are having to manually re-input more than half of all the data residents provide them via digital services.

“Residents are dutifully providing councils with the data they ask for in the format they request it, and the councils are then employing an army of bureaucrats to type it in all over again,” he said. “Councils are too often trying to run modern services on outdated legacy systems, with results that are painful enough for public servants, never mind citizens.”

He added: “There are more than 350 full councils in England, and literally thousands more at the parish and town level. And, although they’re all delivering the same services within the same rules, when it comes to digital, they’re all too often working to their own standards and doing their own thing.”

Although both small and larger councils are asked to adhere to a code dictating what data they should make available and in what format, in the latter case Javid claimed that “to say compliance is patchy would be something of an understatement”.

“This is not all the result of wilful neglect,” he said. “Rather, it’s symptomatic of a system that, instead of being planned, has grown up organically over time.”


Sam Trendall

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