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Slightly off topic but.....Postcodes

  • 23-05-2005 10:51am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 635 ✭✭✭ Mr_Man


    According to this link we are all to get a shiny new postcode soon. The interesting point is that our friends at Comreg are going to be heavily involved:
    The Minister said he would shortly appoint a National Postcode Project Management Board, which will represent stakeholders. The Minister has asked ComReg chairperson Isolde Goggin to appoint project managers to design a suitable postcode.

    I'm sure Isolde, being so busy doing such a wonderful job of regulating the telecoms sector, would appreciate suggestions from her friends here at the boards on suitable schemes. How about this for starters:

    Commission for Communications Regulation
    Block DEF
    Abbey Court,
    Irish Life Centre,
    Lower Abbey Street,
    Dublin
    WSTE 0 SPCE

    Any others?
    M


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Comments



  • Loving that postcode. I had thought that it was ComReg were the ones pushing for postcodes not the Minister. But then this wouldn't be the first time a Comms Minister took credit for something ComReg did. I guess he needs something to latch on to, people are getting quite sick of the MAN openings.




  • I think Its actually Minister and Comreg and Direct Marketing Vermin of Ireland and Credit Scoring Bureaux pushing for .............and an Post against .




  • There's a lot of logic to introducing a proper geographical location code, rather than a postal code based on An Post's needs, in Ireland. The current addressing system just doesn't work very well, regardless of what An Post says.

    An Post have a vested interest in keeping the system as it is because it relies on a "post carrier" having extensive local knowledge and thus makes it next to impossible for a private courrier / delivery service to find addresses in most places. Rural places are "fun" and some of the vast sign-postless housing estates in the cities are even more "fun"... delivery guys waste hours trying to track people down with fuzzy vague directions.

    Various Emergency Services also would like to see a proper post code system introduced as it means that it's possible to locate someone very quickly when the phone 999 / 112 rather than going "Mmmm it's over by the esso garrage, turn left after the thrid big willow tree and then go right at the 4th cow pat on the left"

    The Banks and credit card companies could use postal codes as an extra layer of verification in online transactions, as they do in the US, UK and elsewhere.

    We also have endless duplicate addresses, towns and streets with the same name and these have been confusing An Post's "fuzzy logic" Optical Character Recognition system. So, for example there have been cases of Blackrock Cork letters finding their way to delivery offices in Blackrock Dublin.

    Also, a post code would mean that Irish people could keep their traditional addresses. i.e. you could call your house "An Gugan Barra", Ballymote, Ireland 0124578-887 and it would get there by simply ignoring your address.

    There are other cases where certain towns have been told to use the "wrong county" i.e. towns in one county have to put their neighbouring county on the address as that's how An Post's sorting system recognises it best!
    This makes no sense.

    Anyway, basically An Post oppose post codes in the same way that eircom loaths local loop unbundling!

    Don't be taken in by their arguments that "Post codes are a british invention that will destroy 2000 years of irish herritage" or "post codes are tool of the devil" or other such nonsense.

    Simple fact is that post codes will make finding people far easier, they'll speed up mail sorting and bring down mail prices.




  • I worked on an IT project in An Post quite a few moons ago and we effectively customized an existing package for Ireland. Handling the fact that Ireland doesn't have post codes was a serious pain in the arse. I didn't deal with An Post at a business process level but I got the impression that it would have been easier for all concerned if Ireland had postal codes. As far as I know Ireland is the only country in Europe that doesn't have postal codes and one of a few in the world I would guess.

    From what I can tell, the likes of FedEx have invented their own postal code system for Ireland already. If you look at the labels you'll see a number with the address.




  • I have seen the secret hush hush coding plan Comreg have. D4 will be in Mayo I can tell yiz all but I wont tell yiz which bit of it .


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  • Sponge Bob wrote:
    D4 will be in Mayo
    Yay! Or... um... Boo!




  • Sponge Bob wrote:
    I have seen the secret hush hush coding plan Comreg have. D4 will be in Mayo I can tell yiz all but I wont tell yiz which bit of it .

    Oh Dear
    all those muck savages on the 46a.
    God Help US
    Concerned
    Belmont Gardens




  • It will also create an even more finely layered hierarchy of snobbery.

    Being in D4 or D6 won't be enough anymore. People in 40210 will look down on people in 40211 and so on. Oh, the fun the estate agents will have!




  • jd wrote:
    Concerned
    Belmont Gardens

    Muhahaha.




  • I'd like co-orddinate postcodes or EU postcodes not UK/Canada style codes


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  • vector wrote:
    I don't want postcodes.

    It is too organised, we already have PPS numbers, now postcodes, in time, as the anti-RIC memories dimish the gardai will be allowed sidearms, the govt will know who you are, where you live, and through the revenue and the gardai they will own you.


    I have never heard such crap ever, companies like DHL have a nightmare trying to find addresses, it's about time An Post were told to shut up and get with it, or better yet get rid of them.




  • It's just 1 more aspect of Ireland that needs updating to bring us a bit closer to the 21st Century. There is still way too much of the Old Ireland influencing things. There is way too much resistance to change on the part of State Bodies, especially when the unions get involved! You just know that the union will want more money for An Post workers if Post Codes are introduced to 'compensate' even though Post Codes would actually make their jobs easier.




  • An Post's arguments have been listened to by ComReg and the working group on Post Codes and they were pretty much outright rejected from what I've read.

    They didn't make any sense at all.

    As I'm sure you're not all familiar with "automatic sortation machines" the big systems that actually sort the letters so I'll explain this in simple terms:

    Most sortation machines (yes they are called that i'm not making the word up) have to handle reading a string of letters and numbers SW1 XYZ or MA 012345 or BERLIN 545789 or whatever. They do this using an OCR system that can manage printed addresses flawlessly and will usually manage handwritten codes no problem too.

    If the post code's written in joined up writing or is very unclear, a camera shoots an image of the front of the letter. This is displayed on a monitor and the person has to key in the addressing details (i.e. the post code)

    Once the code's recognised a barcode is inkjet printed onto the back or front of the envelope (depends on the system) and that is used to identify the item and sort it through the machine.

    An Post approach (the re-inventing the wheel approach)

    Ah sure lads we won't bother with postcodes at all, sure they're far too complicated.

    They went off and commissoned the world's most ridiculously over the top sortation system. It's capable of reading the entire address, then matching it using fuzzy logic to a database of every address in the country.
    (this cost a fortune and software was specially commissoned.. they also had to compile a database of every address in ireland (also cost a fortune))

    The problems:
    It fails to read a huge % of handwritten items, resulting in them all having to be keyed in manually (a very tedious task) which slows the whole process enormously.

    and regularly addresses that are on envelopes don't correspond to any address in the An Post database. Either because they're not exactly as the official address is (e.g. someone's changed a line or two) or that they simply haven't been added to the database.

    Then you've another problem.. 40% of the buildings in Ireland don't actually have unique addresses. So, it could be one of a number of places.

    And finally, the use of alternative names for townlands, the use of bilingual addresses and other quirky things that computers generally don't like.

    End result: Lots of mail is delayed and the costs are about twice what they should be.


    The other complete joke:

    When the address is actually read by OCR or keyed in and the destination is identified. The An Post Sortation system applies a code to the back of the letter in the form of an orange injket barcode. This is actually a post code! Yet the company keeps them completely secret.

    So, basically we already have post codes, they just won't tell anyone what they are!

    In many other countries companies that produce bulk mail (E.g. the likes of Eircom or ESB billing systems) actually pre-sort their mail so that the post office doesn't have to! They get a huge discount and can do this because the mail can be printed in batches according to postal code and doesn't need to be sorted at all.
    This facility's not available in ireland so every day tens of thousands of bills, bank statements, invoices etc unnecessarily clog up sortation machines and delaying letters that actually do need to be sorted.

    Other facilities, like the ability to print a barcode version of the post code on the front of a business envelope that can be instantly read by the sortation machine speeding up the process are also not available.


    To put An Post in context: It would be like if Telecom Eireann had decided that subscriber trunk dialling was far too complicated and people would never get the hang of area codes. So, all calls would have to go via the operator, despite a fully digital network being in place.

    or like Tesco deciding to implement a huge optical scanning system that can recognise products by reading their full lables rather than a cheap fast laser that reads the barcode on the bottom.

    It's that stupid!




  • Solair wrote:
    It's that stupid!

    You mean, it's that Irish




  • Nicely explained Solair!




  • The simplest solution is a US/Canada/France/Germany system , 5 digit numeric.

    Alternatively we can base off the first character on the english alphabet, 26 letters (26 counties) or the Irish alphabet which is 20 letters !!!!!!!! .

    Then there is the Language Act which correctly determines that Irish place names default to the Irish Version in a Gaeltacht , this leads to many place names starting with "Baile" or "An" . An 'alpha' based system could break down if there were too many A or B codes . Ultimately I fear we cannot invent an alpha based system which would keep all the stakeholders happy and which gives due recognisance to our culture and heritage.

    I am therefore minded towards the German 4 digit or French 5 digit system. Each local authority OR region is identified by the first 1 or 2 digits , the final 3 digits locate the area within that authority .

    The largest unitary authority in Ireland is Dublin corpo with 400k persons or so. 3 digits in that case would be a granular unit of about 400 ish persons (150 ish houses) which is not even a postal round for one post person .

    In Leitrim with 26000 persons a 3 digit subcode would identify a cluster of about 26 persons (8 houses) which should keep the fire brigade happy.

    A regional system would involve biggger subcodes but we would have 1000 per region, up to 10 regions and therefore have postcode for each 8 Square Km unit of the country , an area of around 1.5 miles x 1.5 miles square .

    My 2c ( or 0.02c)




  • Excellent post Solair.

    The Tesco analogy is brilliant!




  • LFCFan wrote:
    You mean, it's that Irish
    You mean, it's that Oirish.

    Solair, can that (presumably ridiculously expensive) sortation machine have all the crap hacked out and be used as for standard sortcodes, should An Post be forced down that route?

    (What are the odds the guy that came up with "sortation" creamed his pants when he flipped to that page on his lovely flipchart?)

    adam




  • sorting + automation = sortation

    sortation was likely a purposeful trademarkable portmanteau




  • vector wrote:
    sortation was likely a purposeful trademarkable portmanteau
    Ewww, go and stand in the corner vector.


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  • dahamsta wrote:
    Ewww, go and stand in the corner vector.

    yo mr 5series, I expressed my post clearly, using the most appropriate and least number of words, should I tone down for this audience :)

    I don't like the word though ;)




  • There's absolutely no reason why those machines couldn't use post codes. The same, or very similar technology is used elsewhere.

    It would just mean that An Post would have to do some software modification.

    As for a coding system. The most important thing is that it is linked to the geographical location of a place rather than a system that would identify a particular postman/man's route as this would only reflect how An Post does things and would be of no benefit to anyone else.

    It also has to be capable of coping with population changes and really shouldn't have anything to do with the traditional county structure.

    Personally, I'd like to see an all-numerical system that would work something like this:

    123456

    1 = represents one of 10 broad regions of equal size
    2 = splits that region into 10 small regions (maybe areas the size of county louth)
    3 = into yet smaller regions (townlands)
    4 = (areas within townlands)
    5 = (street level)
    6 = (more accurate street level)

    There could then be optional numbers, like in the US system, to encode even more accurate information.

    E.g. another few digits that could identify a particular mailbox or delivery point exactly.

    This would give greater flexibility.

    The current US system works a little like that:

    5 digit zip code suffices for most things.
    If you want a deeper level of information you can use the Zip+4 code

    like 90210 - 1245 would accurately identifes a particular building.

    I prefer an all numeric system too as OCR systems can read handwritten numbers much more accurately than a mixture of letters and numbers. So, it would speed things up. All-numerical codes are also the general European and international way of doing things. The UK and Canada seem to be the odd-ball exceptions.

    An Post actually developed a post-code-like system called GeoCode that uses a grid reference and 6 digit codes to idenfity every building in the country. It's used by direct marketing companies, surveyers etc.. but it's available to the public nor is it usable in addresses.

    It looks like it might be usable as the basis for a postal code system too!




  • It's probably too much to ask but could we not just adopt this postcode system rather than comreg spend 324Bn on consultations to decide it is the best one?




  • LFCFan wrote:
    It's just 1 more aspect of Ireland that needs updating to bring us a bit closer to the 21st Century. There is still way too much of the Old Ireland influencing things. There is way too much resistance to change on the part of State Bodies, especially when the unions get involved! You just know that the union will want more money for An Post workers if Post Codes are introduced to 'compensate' even though Post Codes would actually make their jobs easier.

    Funnily enough a report commissioned by the unions has come out in favoutr of post codes ..
    http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1402270&issue_id=12518

    Among its recommendations are:

    Internet in post offices;

    A postal code system for the entire country;

    Post offices in every town should be developed into one-stop shops for financial, and government services.




  • While I personally see no need for postcodes
    if the "experts" have determined that we must have postcodes then
    lets not reinvent the wheel
    lets adopt the EU system

    it "ticks all the boxes"
    pro-EU
    anti-UK
    anti-US

    sure the last two are not important, but the EU one would play well in Bruxelles




  • Creating a national post code system wheather it's like the one I outlined, based on An Post's GeoCodes or on some other system e.g. companies like ESB use a geographical reference, MPRN at the top of your bill, will be easy and realatively cheap to do. There are several databases that could be used as a good starting point, An Post's Geobase being the main example!

    The likelihood is that the postal codes won't be owned or managed by An Post as it would be a conflict of interest, not to mention the fact that they're quite obviously hostile to the introduction of such a system in the first place. It's likely that the postal code system will be managed by ComReg or some independent agency, much like the telephone numbering system is today.

    You may find an odd situation where An Post doesn't recognise the national post codes but they'll be required to open a bank account, send a letter by DHL or order anything for delivery etc




  • It would put an end to sending letters Like this:

    Joe Bloggs
    Main St,
    Urlingford VIA Thurles
    Co. Tipperary

    When we all know urlingford is in Co. Kilkenny.

    How did this f ucked up system of via thurles come about?




  • Bond-007 wrote:
    It would put an end to sending letters Like this:

    Joe Bloggs
    Main St,
    Urlingford VIA Thurles
    Co. Tipperary

    When we all know urlingford is in Co. Kilkenny.

    How did this f ucked up system of via thurles come about?

    It's because the sorting office or whatever in Thurles is closer than the one in Kilkenny, I think. Or if not closer, it is in the area covered by Thurles and not Kilkenny.

    I live in a similar situation, living in Co. Kilkenny, but just a few miles from Waterford. Having Via Waterford in the address can sometimes reduce delivery times by a day. Going via Kilkenny, it gets sent from Kilkenny to Waterford and then onto me. Via Waterford removes one link in the chain.




  • Solair wrote:
    There's absolutely no reason why those machines couldn't use post codes. The same, or very similar technology is used elsewhere.

    It would just mean that An Post would have to do some software modification.
    Will they actually do it though, or will ComReg do the usual and timidly let $serviceProvider do what they bloody want, no matter how illogical? Such as "agreeing" with An Post's almost guaranteed recommendation that the entire existing system be decommissioned and replaced with Flashy New System 6000[TM]; at the expense of the taxpayer of course. (How much will stamps be next year, six gazillion euros is it?)

    What's your take on using GPS coordinates for the postcode? It seems like the most logical route to take, and it strikes me that it might be worth going against the grain to lead in this area. Presumably there are issues with it though?

    adam


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  • Anyone know how much this current hugely expensive system actually cost the taxpayer? Was there anything in the press about it? Anyone enjoy doing FOI requests as much as me? ;)


This discussion has been closed.
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