Going global: the return of the address wars

Wednesday 6th March 2019, 6:30 pm.

Speaker: Dr Ant Beck

Venue: Room 4.31, University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh.

This event is free of charge and open to all, though please register via Eventbrite: https://bcsedinburgh060319.eventbrite.co.uk/

Refreshments and networking from 6:00 pm.


An address is much more than a representation of a property: when included as part of a nation's infrastructure, an address helps to provide social and legal identity. By providing a fundamental knowledge base to inform decision making and action, addresses help to develop, implement and support other critical national policies such as:

  • Governance
  • Urban development and management
  • Migration and social integration
  • Security
  • Economy and commerce
  • Environmental sustainability, risk and disaster management

Addressing the world: an address for everyone co-ordinated by the Universal Postal Union documents in detail the problems that poor address infrastructure and address interoperability pose. As part of the solution this white paper neatly summarises the state of the art in addressing and advocates approaches to improve addressing aimed at nation states. Key to this is the assumption that an address requires a road network, a street name and a house number. This national address infrastructure can be a significant barrier to implementation and can starkly highlight the division between urban and rural communities. However, technology is disrupting this status-quo and the 21st Century will see significant change in address infrastructure.

This presentation examines the assumption that credible addresses require an underlying address infrastructure. By removing the need for address infrastucture (and conflation of national address systems) it is possible to define the characteristics of a global address framework. Inevitably any global address framework will take advantage of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning (such as GPS). However, the characteristics of how this is implemented will have significant implications in their re-use scenarios. We will discuss the key characteristics of a global address framework in terms of impact.

Poor' & Nations Development Programme', 2008. Making the law work for everyone: Vol 1 - report of the commission on legal empowerment of the poor, Available at: http://www.unrol.org/doc.aspx?n=Making_the_Law_Work_for_Everyone.pdf [Accessed January 12, 2015].

UPU, 2012. Addressing the world: an address for everyone, Universal Postal Union. Available at: http://www.upu.int/en/activities/addressing/addressing-the-world-initiative.html [Accessed November 5, 2014].

About the speaker


Ant is as an interdisciplinarian working at the interfaces of geo-science, heritage, smart-cities, remote sensing, plant and soil science, computing and knowledge engineering. He has undertaken research in a number of contrasting fields (humanities, social science and science) and is committed to approaches that maximize academic, industry, policy and public impact. Project work include:

  • large scale data integration in the utility sector (the award winning UK Water Industry Research projects Mapping the Underworld and VISTA),
  • heritage remote sensing (landscape programmes in India and Syria and hyperspectral imaging in the UK) and
  • digital transformation programmes (addressing frameworks at United Utilities and land administration domain modelling at Registers of Scotland).

He is a passionate advocate of Open Science and sees this as a way to increase the impact of science in society. Since 2015 Ant has provided GIScience, Knowledge Engineering and Data Analytics consultancy services. He is currently undertaking a conceptual redesign of Scotland's Land Register. Ant is still research active: he was the lead author on an urban energy modelling paper published in 2018 and is a co-author on a recently submitted subsurface utility detection paper. He is a father. He juggles.

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