There’s a vampire in your data


You know that old adage that 80% of corporate data relates to location? Well it’s usually based on the fact that most records within a business or government database link in some way to an address – think customers, suppliers, staff, planning applications, requests for services etc.

All he did was validate his address. Thanks for the photo to myself

Did you know that you might not hold the exclusive rights to your own corporate data? Well at least not if your address data has been validated by using one of the many tools that are based on PAF. Yes, that hoary old beast rears it’s head again, sharpens it’s teeth and infects your data with its IP to prevent you from using your own data as you wish – hence the vampire analogy. Ahh “but I am a public sector body, so that doesn’t apply to me” you say – wrong! Apparently our partly state owned postal behemoth has been asserting rights over public data that includes addresses which ‘may’ have been validated against PAF which potentially means the end of the Open Government License which says that you are free to

  • copy, publish, distribute and transmit the Information;
  • adapt the Information;
  • exploit the Information commercially for example, by combining it with other Information, or by including it in your own product or application.

Now of course this might be a malicious rumour and the full terms of the OGL may apply to all of our lovely Open Data without restriction. Only time will tell. In the mean time if you are planning to publish data that contains addresses you might want to investigate whether the Royal Mail have got their teeth into your data via PAF.

Of course life would have been so much easier if BIS had not been convinced/conned/sandbagged/extorted (delete as appropriate) into including the national information asset that was PAF within the partial privatisation of RM. But there is good news on the horizon, there is an OAF on the way (that’s an Open Address File in case you haven’t been following the Address Wars Saga for the last 10-15 years, like some of us sad geogeeks) so watch out for more news from Open Addresses in the next week or two.