The Eircode Pimpernel Strikes!!!
The below email was sent today to all members of the senate. We believe this email came the self proclaimed leader of the Eircode tender. Yes you read that correctly, someone involved with the delivery of the state-backed Eircode postcode has anonymously (based on legal advice), jumped ship and is urging senators not to support Eircode.
As a concerned citizen of Ireland, and one who has been instructed by solicitors not to speak out on this subject, I am sending you this anonymous note (my apologies) since you will today be voting on the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2015, a bill whose sole purpose is to enable An Post (and only An Post and not any of the other ComReg authorised postal services provider) to use personal data which they have processed without the permission or knowledge of the data subjects to deliver a postcode to every dwelling in the country, in spite of reservations by the Data Protection Commissioner that such a postcode will be personal data due to the large number of 1 person dwellings in the country, which reservation could have been overcome with a nested code (where by dropping a character from the code the approximate location is still identifiable but the actual dwelling is not).
This country, unless you stop this process today, will get a ‘postcode’ which suits only An Post as (a) only with local knowledge or paid online access to the Eircode database can a dwelling be found using a satnav/google map (b) since the Eircode database is based on the An Post Geo Directory and contractually licensed from them, every access of the Eircode database generates a licence fee for An Post. Over the next 10 years it is estimated that Eircode will generate €17m for An Post. (Note: Instead of using An Post GeoDirectory, we could very easily set up a database completely owned by the state by asking CSO enumerators to build it when they do the next census in 2016. The postcode could even be disseminated at the same time.)
Nightline, the only major logistics operator who say they are for Eircode, have invested over €5m in parcel motels whose raison d’etre will diminish if its competitors can easily deliver directly to dwellings.
Government database holders, who have welcomed the code because it identifies each dwelling (and so permits fraud prevention and planning) can just as easily be satisfied with a nested code which uses the code plus the dwelling number (in the case of flat or apartment) to identify the individual dwelling.
The code we will get is not intuitive, the first three characters can represent over 80,000 houses and the last 4 are random (so in an apartment block two neighbouring apartments will have completely different codes).
The code will not represent anywhere but a dwelling – so other places that one may wish to go to (accident site, tourist attraction, bus stop shelter, railway bridge etc) cannot have their own code. The opportunity to have a simply understood language to identifying locations will be missed.
The code is built on the An Post sorting centres and so the voter acceptance of the code will be politically difficult as voters receive postcodes which represent a different area – e.g. as west Wicklow receives its post from An Post’s Naas sorting office, west Wicklow dwellings will have a Kildare postcode. People in Dublin 16 will discover they actually (according to An Post anyway) live in Dublin 24 etc.
But there is a solution:
It will not cost much to change the current design to another one. The government databases are already coded and the codes in them can be replaced in a matter of hours electronically since the hard work of identifying exact addresses has been done. The dissemination/information mailing which is ready to go will have to be reprinted. And the information already disseminated re-issued. I reckon the cost to change the coding and PR work will be in the order of €750,000.
Of the 3 codes that were consulted on in 2006 by the National Postcode Project Board, the Fixed Grid design would have been the code recommended but for a last minute (and I believe misunderstood) intervention by the data protection commissioner who wished for a code which did not represent an individual property. The work of that group should now be revisited and when it is I believe that the Fixed Grid code will then be chosen as the design of a postcode for Ireland. The government can then ask Capita to use this Fixed Grid design as the Eircode/postcode for Ireland.
With kind regards.
PS It is recognised in the addressing world that a proper addressing system has economic value. In the US and in the UK recently published reports (by the USPS and Royal Mail) show that a postcoded system is worth about €25 per head of population per annum. Therefore in Irish terms it could be worth about €125m annually to the economy. To maximise this value we need to get the addressing system right! So even if it takes another 2 years to do this it is worth the wait.
PPS For your information here is a recently published document regarding Eircode from a group of global addressing experts: http://www.globaladdress.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/06/Eircode-Final-Rev-11.pdf
The Global Address Data Association is a not for profit international association of addressing, postcode and address data experts and can be found here: http://www.globaladdress.org/about/mission/
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Note from GetLostEircodes
It appears #AutoGimp is upset already (See comments). Somebody tell this man corruption is corruption just ask DCENR they have previous form.