The idea of a national address database which accurately pinpoints every property type - including land and buildings without postal addresses - has finally become a reality after Birmingham City Council became the last local authority to sign up to a process started in 1999.
Since that time the Government's Improvement and Development Agency, specialist consultancy Intelligent Addressing and local government address managers, have been working in partnership to produce a definitive index of all land parcels and buildings, including those in multiple occupation, with a nationally Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN).
With Birmingham on board, all councils with a statutory responsibility for street naming and numbering are now submitting updates to the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) central hub.
With over 29 million unique addresses the NLPG is set to take its place as the 'de facto' addressing standard for England and Wales and through linkage with the National Gazetteer for Scotland, the Scottish address-ing initiative, the whole of Britain.
The NLPG is rapidly gaining in maturity. Last year it was chosen to underpin the new FiReControl project and is used increasingly by police forces as the best source of address information.
The constituent parts, the Local Land and Proper-tyGazetteers (LLPGs), are already deeply integrated into the systems and processes of local authorities.
The partners claim that maintaining a single address database for referencing everything from council tax to planning applications creates dramatic efficiencies, opportunities for 'joined up government' and improved service delivery.
The NLPG says it is transforming local government through cross-authority initiatives.
In Sussex seven boroughs and district councils, the county council, Sussex Police and the NHS, have worked collectively to overcome political, cultural and technical challenges to deliver a seamless customer information system to the 750,000 citizens of West Sussex.
In Warwickshire, the NLPG is central to a scheme to migrate nearly 100 different borough and district services across the county to a central customer relationship management (CRM) system.
A recent report by CEBR estimated that £55 million a year could be saved as a result of using gazetteers in those councils responsible for creating and maintaining them.
It is suspected that many hundreds of millions of pounds more could be saved with the introduction of the NLPG across the public sector as part of the need to transform the way government interacts with people and businesses.
"Until recently there wasn't a single definitive list of all the addresses for the country, meaning that many government and private services have not been sure if addresses from differing sources refer to the same or different properties," said Michael Nicholson, managing director of Intelligent Addressing. "There has always been an understanding that the NLPG could not ultimately succeed unless every authority within England and Wales was signed up to the process.
"The success of the initiative is however there for all to see, with new applications and processes coming to light every day. Now that Birmingham is on board the future of the NLPG is assured and the possibilities are endless.
"We are witnessing a new era of information sharing and exchange, which will dramatically affect each and every one of us."