The lie that An Post are fully committed to Eircode is slowly being unraveled…

2 comments on “The lie that An Post are fully committed to Eircode is slowly being unraveled…”

  1. Samuel Johnson Reply

    That the CWU would block Eircodes being used seems perverse and ironic — given that Eircode was designed around An Post’s network in order to prevent any competitor gaining an advantage (so much for the “level playing field” design principle; the Labour party threw that out the window. Members not having it; Irish taxpayer be damned. Clientilism strikes again).

    The reason for the result reported in The Irish Times is simple enough. An Post’s distribution network is not equipped with technology (and won’t be), and humans cannot sort items with random 4 digit codes into sequences for delivery; therefore they are not used and will not be used. The only hope of using them for delivery planning would be to have someone recode them and relabel items with loc8codes or something similar, useful to humans.

    A simple test which Messrs Alex Lyons, Pat Rabbite, and the insiders responsible for the Eircode stitch-up should be asked to take ON CAMERA is this:

    Please go through this bundle of a dozen envelopes with names and Eircodes and pick out those due to be delivered to the SAME STREET. It can’t be done without resort to technology AND TIME. It’s not a practical or affordable proposition for An Post which is already delivering 98% of mail on time. This sad, laughable situation could have been easily avoided.

    A code that doesn’t let you know what properties are close to each other is not “advanced” as claimed by Liam Duggan of CAPITA. It is quite the opposite. It is simply not fit for purpose if the purpose is delivering things. It is FINE if the purpose is identification, location and taxation of individual properties by the state. For such an identifier to be called a “postcode” is furthermore a declaration that any expectation of privacy is now null and void.

    ALREADY it appears that companies are preparing to cross match hundreds of databases to perform every conceivable kind of profiling of individuals (see http://www.matchcodeglobal.com e.g.). The combination of a mobile phone number and an Eircode will be as good as an individual eartag.

    The objection to locality based codes by those responsible for Eircode is shown on the blog of the Autoaddress company: the ostensibly damning fact that a river can be found between adjacent locations and you would never know this from the code.

    Really? Seriously? Compared to not knowing which properties are close together? This is better? No, it blindingly obviously isn’t.

    The same people have claimed that Eircode couldn’t be tested before implementation. This is, of course, more dishonest nonsense. I have suggested a common sense test above. I’d like to see Mr Liam Duggan, Alex Pigot and others responsible for this farce spend an hour on camera delivering mail using just Eircodes. They would surely humiliate themselves and demonstrate how badly the Irish taxpayer has been ripped off.

    It would be enlightening for the same taxpayer to see this, to fully appreciate the result reported in The Irish Times. Many have concluded that Eircode works or doesn’t on spurious grounds (my house is correctly identified; they got my name wrong). Very few have engaged with important questions of principle:

    1. Should one’s postcode uniquely identify one’s dwelling or should it be a locality code? (& what are the privacy implications of the former?)
    2. Is the postcode fit for sorting mail and parcels into delivery routes? (& is the result carrier neutral?)

    Eircode have claimed as justification for unique property identifying codes that in parts of the country we have people with the same surname living on the same road with ambiguous addresses. Ambiguous addresses comprise, it is claimed, 35% of all rural addresses. The combination of ambiguous names AND addresses is a smaller percentage that has never been furnished, and it is surely in single figures, and arguably not a reason to impose completely random codes to inconvenience the rest of the population and, in particular, those who deliver things. The simple and proportionate solution, adopted in countries all over the world, would be to assign numbers to the properties concerned if necessary (those lacking distinctive names). This would also address every requirement for uniquely identifying properties (for mortgage applications etc.).

    Loc8code and the proposed Open Postcode can also be objected to in respect of their potential privacy impact; but the solution is simple: permit the user to specify either the exact location or the locality (one for addressing mail and one for tax identification). In the case of loc8code, or a similar approach, one could specify the first and last 3 character for the former and the full 8 for the latter. And why not? We routinely choose the level of precision required when giving phone numbers.

    The average taxpayer also hasn’t grasped the extent to which, as Eircode is currently designed, we are all going to be required to support maintenance of the Eircode database — at cost of millions per annum, including profits we shouldn’t need to be paying. We are rooked twice over: once in having a trade union block adoption of anything that would put its employer on a level playing field, again in having additional avoidable costs imposed on the Irish public (the benchmark is not the status quo ante but the alternative of a free, open postcode, usable by all–like Denmark’s).

    If the code was sensibly designed couriers wouldn’t necessarily need to license a database in order to do delivery planning and properties near each other would have similar codes. The only sensible interpretation of this failure is that it was intended as a feature, not a bug, and that it was designed for monetisation. Any denial of this seems to me to deserve the response received by Mr Bertram Ahern when he claimed to have won money on the horses.

    Unfortunately, in their greed they overlooked some important things. They failed to do any testing of deliveries or of use by the emergency services. And they failed to consult the public about the privacy implications. An inside job from start to finish, and an incompetent one, lacking any cost benefit justification or proper public scrutiny of different options. Truly an indictment of how business is done in Ireland by the government, or rather, in this case, by the Labour party and sympathisers in the public sector.

    What is to be done?

    By the public: Nothing. Simply refuse to use Eircode. Resistance has made Irish Water unworkable as a similarly established exercise in privatisation. Resistance works. The boycott was invented in Ireland after all. We have form. Decline to do business with any company requiring an Eircode. Never provide it. Deny all knowledge of it. It is purportedly OPTIONAL. Wait for legislation compelling its use. It’s not going to happen.

    No doubt the Labour Party and the prospective beneficiaries of the Eircode stitch-up are smug in the knowledge that the statute of limitations has put their handiwork beyond revision. However, they have no impunity in the court of public opinion. We need, and should still afford and learn from, a proper, independent, cost benefit review of alternatives conducted in public. We can then decide as informed citizens, in so far as we are allowed to vote on the matter, whether it would be cheaper to to start again or wait 10 years before changing this abomination. There ARE precedents for changing identifiers (PRSI to PPSN e.g.).

    By the Comptroller and Auditor General: Please confirm if we were victims of incompetence, corruption/vested interest, or both, and what can be done to preclude similar events and suspicions in future.

  2. P.J. Flannry Reply

    I worked in the Central Sorting Office when it was in Sheriff Street. the GPO and Tallaght Post Office in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. For a country the size of Ireland, a postal code is downright ridiculous. For one thing, there is no rhyme or reason to why we ought to mix letters with numbers. Unless we abbreviate the name of the town as was customary with telephone exchanges. BRE = Ballinrobe; CBR Castlebar; CMS Claremorris; , W oddly enough is Westport. while WT is Waterford. DA Drogheda; DV Dungarvin.
    BRE9495= the town proper; BRE 94952 = sub post offices in alphabetical order.

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