The Cock at Welwyn

So what are “real” data skills? Let’s assume the big systems that we have invested in are already good at cleansing data and dealing with unstructured data. But human life forms still need to interact and “know” the data. They still need to find non-conforming data and recognise bad data.

Without these human skills, we are just looking at smarter and smarter systems that are optimising our data journey. And don’t forget our ethics and compliance.

Let’s talk about addresses.

Getting the address right is paramount, never more so than for a young police officer. Back in my days with Hertfordshire Constabulary (Herts Police pronounced “Harts”), I can remember being sent out on one of my first lone assignments to find a particular country pub. The Address given to me was The Cock, Welwyn, Tillet, Herts. I will let you work that out. I have to admit it took me longer than the average address validation software.

Address misrepresentation starts with the genuine, and like most frauds, an accidental misrepresentation that is not challenged becomes an “innocent” opportunity for the genuine customers and educates the diligent fraudster.

Yes, I said misrepresentation starts at genuine. Take a corner house plot, like one not far from me now, and you can understand why the homeowner changed the street address. Following some home improvements, the owner moved the front door to the side elevation and applied for the address to be part of the adjacent street. Why? That bit is easy, the average house price value in the original street is £661,501* and in the new street, it is £1,260,442*. That’s pure snob value!

The question I ask is how does that now look to all the financial institutions and retail delivery organisations. What systems are in place to do address resolution and validation?

With the increase in ghost (insurance) broking it is critically important to validate addresses and resolve all the possible permutations to a single address identity. Consider some of these scenarios;

• Multi-occupancy properties

• Additional houses built within an existing plot

• Properties added after the acquisition of land (gardens) from other properties

• Flats

• Split dwellings

Imagine every company in your supply chain and the many different processes and systems they use to record personal data. That data map is a great place to start.

This is where the data analyst’s job starts to get complicated. It is not as simple as two lists of addresses and a quick calculation to see if an address exists in the other list. Now we have to cleanse and prepare the data. And, how do we know if all our hard work is giving out the correct results?

It is more than attention to detail, it’s the ability to recognise the real-world in data.

Our desktop analysts can learn to optimise the data from disparate sources.

There is more information about end-to-end data mapping and desktop skills workshops on our website -

By the way, I got a big round of applause when I eventually got back to the police station.

Kevin Reid

*House price valuations taken from Zoopla February 2018

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