A Caring Development

AFD customer bpha are a housing association operating between Oxford and Cambridge, whose company values include showing empathy and taking responsibility. They even demonstrate their culture of care not only by efficiently managing 19,500 homes with their 500 staff, but also by running a “Carelink service” which supports not only bpha customers but the wider community with a 24- hour responder service. By going this extra mile they live out their ambition to build communities where people can live happily in affordable homes, while giving customers and families an additional layer of security knowing someone can support them in an emergency.

We spoke to Bill Powell, Software Development Manager at bpha, to learn the role accurate data has in helping the organisation and its tenants: “Our vision is to build thriving communities, and primarily our job is to house and manage our tenants and the properties that they occupy. We wanted to have accurate, property level address data as important updates sent by post need to get to the right place and essential maintenance work would be delayed and would have to be rescheduled months later if we could not find the property straight away.

Since we have brought the maintenance service in-house, we must ensure we are sending our maintenance teams to exactly the right place for every job. Cost of time and fuel is of course a saving we wanted from this process, but the most important benefit was reaching our tenants as planned.

We found AFD had a solution that would review all our property data, cleanse it against the best sources and add property level latitude and longitude data. The result is correct address data with a pinpoint location accuracy of each one, making maintenance planning fast and accurate.”

United Information

Combining datasets is difficult, especially so when two datasets could have the same property yet different address data, common with flats and apartments. AFD has over 450 years of combined experience in developing solutions to help solve potential address anomalies or complexities, making them the leading provider of address validation and cleansing solutions. Bill continues:

“For our requirements, we wanted Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF) data to cleanse our address database, because we wanted to work with the address format that people are most used to seeing and using. We also needed data from Ordnance Survey (OS) which provided the latitude and longitude data, and a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN), to link together other datasets which are very important to us.

To achieve this solution ourselves we would have needed licenses from both Royal Mail and OS, and then we would have needed to combine the datasets and attempted to match our data to all of this – to be honest this just wasn’t a feasible option.

Finding a partner in AFD Software that offered the exact datasets we required, pre-aligned for both point of entry validation and cleansing, provided an extremely valuable solution for us. We know full well how difficult it is matching addresses between our own data and another dataset, never mind against two datasets! Many of the addresses in our database had quirks around flat numbers and names that didn’t match initially, but AFD worked with us to identify and match these further, thereby minimising manual work and increasing data accuracy.”

Insulated From Bad Data

Bill explains: “Once the data was cleansed, we used the appended UPRN data to match Energ Performance Certificates (EPC) to each property, quickly identifying how well insulated they are. We asked the question, which properties would most benefit from additional insulation and other measures to improve their energy performance?

EPC data allowed us to instantly identify a list of our poorest performing properties, so we could then plan what performance upgrades were needed to keep our tenants safe and warm. This vital job  would be impossible to get right without having an authoritative dataset of accurate property details that we could match with the EPC data.

Ultimately, this solution allows us to provide our tenants with the right standard of property and efficiently carry out remedial work based on other factors, such as prioritising vulnerable tenants, like elderly residents or residents with young children. In partnership with AFD, we are better planning the work and improving the properties that need help, which will keep our tenants warm this winter.”

What I Value Most

So what difference have the Postcode People at AFD made to bpha? Bill concludes: “After working closely on cleansing our property database, I was very impressed with the reliability that we got through that process. The tech guys at AFD were very willing to look at our data and work with us to get the best results, which gave us great confidence and allowed us to plan work in priority order to the properties most in need. We could also be optimistic that the maintenance teams would not have to waste time finding any property.

I felt that we were properly in a partnership, and to find someone at the end of the process that was as responsive as AFD was a real bonus. The Postcode People at AFD stay the course and help make their solutions fit your exact requirements, the attentiveness has continued and that is what I value most.”

AFD Software worked with bpha to provide the exact solution to their specific requirements, a solution to help identify and manage property locations and data helping efficiently deploy their maintenance teams. Does your organisation have full confidence in its address data? Do you separately manage other datasets that we could help bring together?

Contact Joel Miller today on 01624 811709 or email joel.miller@afd.co.uk to discuss your requirements and understand how we can help solve your issues around data quality, and get full value out of all your data.





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