Government kicks off £3m two-year project to build comprehensive database of public-sector land and buildings

Written by Sam Trendall on 22 October 2020 in News

Cabinet Office to lead creation of the Digital National Asset Register, which will offer improved information to government property managers and the public

Credit: Images Money/CC BY 2.0

The government has kicked off a two-year project to build a comprehensive database of all buildings and land owned by UK public-sector entities.

Cabinet Office unit the Office of Government Property, alongside specialist supplier Landmark Information, is leading the project to create the Digital National Asset Register (d-NAR). The new platform “will be a cloud-based system to collect, manage and analyse” data on government property.

The goal is “to provide insight on the public estate to organisations, cross-public sector programmes, parliament and the public, leading to greater public transparency”.

“Additional analytical capability will also support better decision making for strategic real estate,” the OGP added.

The incoming system will replace an existing “mapping service” called e-PIMS, which is “many years old”, requires data to updated manually, and has little scope to be upgraded. Once n-DAR is up and running, the transfer of data from departments and external sources will be automated.

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The register will also offer new dashboards offering better analytics and the ability to create reports, as well as providing some data to the public. Greater security and improved monitoring and management of data quality will be among the other benefits of the platform.

The OGP indicated that it is best placed to lead this project as it “is the only body in central government with existing access to estate and asset data across multiple public sector bodies, with plans to extend this access further”.

“By 2021, its target is that nearly all UK strategic asset information (e.g. land, building and associated data-sets) for government and public sector bodies will be available to the Cabinet Office, offering a single and trusted perspective across a significant portfolio”, it added.
The government entered into a two-year contract with delivery partner Landmark Information on 1 October. The deal – which can be extended by six months, if necessary – will be worth £2.9m to the Exeter-based property data and services firm. About £1.7m of this has been budgeted for “the design and build phase” of the project, which the OGP hopes will be completed by the end of March 2021.

Analysts at the Office for Government Property and property managers form across the public sector are expected to be the two core user groups of n-DAR.

“As an OGP analyst, I have to create reports and models to help decision making and policy with ease and confidence in the source data,” the OGP said. “I need to create reports and maps by myself in a private space using this property data, combined with socioeconomic information. This allows me to understand the impact on departments and local communities of relocating staff. I want confidence in the data quality and clarity on the data definitions [and] standards of the raw data.”

The agency added: “As a public sector property manager, I need specific data to transfer from my property management system (or other data sources) to OGP at periodic intervals, automatically using integrations with a manual management capability as a back-up. I need to save time and effort for my reporting commitments without manually re-entering data from my system. I also want to view this information and a portfolio view of the property assets in simple navigable reports.”

The goal of creating a Digital National Asset Register was first set out in the Government Estate Strategy published by the Cabinet Office in summer 2018.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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