Capita craic on with Irish postcodes

For years there have been rumours around the introduction of Irish postcode system and at some points I thought discovering leprechauns on the moon would be more likely. As a result, it’s fair to say I took the invitation to discuss the new Eircode project with Capita with a pinch of salt.  Nonetheless I quite happily took the early morning train up to Birmingham as I hoped the meeting could finally answer our postal prayers. Having worked in both the tech and sales team at Postcode Anywhere I have lost count how many enquiries I’ve taken from people with Irish addressing problems. The introduction of Capture+ in 2012 did see a marked drop off in the number of issues, as you’d expect, as it allows users to search for an address without needing a postcode.

Unfortunately once the address has been captured accurately there are still numerous issues down the line due to the lack of a formal postcode. Paul Allen went into these in great detail during his presentation such as non-unique addresses and surname clustering which we just don’t have in the UK. Some of these issues aren’t as big as they potentially could be as they can be overcome to some degree by the postman’s local knowledge. However, as we move away from the traditional postie and into the digital age these issues are likely to become more and more pronounced.

So what’s the solution?

Each address point will be allocated a unique seven alpha-numeric Eircode which will not change. The allocation of Eircodes will not be sequential to specifically prevent issues with both capacity and updates. There will be two databases containing Eircode data:

ECAF – Containing just the Eircode and Postal Address

ECAD – Larger database containing Eircode, Postal Address, Geo-coordinates and Aliases

An added benefit of Eircode is the inclusion of X and Y coordinates for each address point. These coordinates will be invaluable for delivery and overcome many issues with locating properties. Speaking to our clients there is a lot of excitement in the market about new opportunities which will arise from the project.

Simon Scriver from Total Fundraising sees benefits not only to their Direct Mail but also to their field management tools. Giving them the ability to “knock on doors that have literally never been knocked on!”

And they’re not the only ones to welcome the postcodes. Jon Nicholson, Head of International at City Link believes the new postcodes mark a fantastic step forward for Ireland. He says, “Southern Ireland is a country well on its way to recovery and introducing postcodes is a really important step which will help it integrate its commerce with that of other countries abroad.”

Even though Eircodes aren’t going to be fully rolled out until March 2015 there are already some clear takeaways. Starting from a relatively clean slate will have certainly made the introduction of some aspects of Eircode easier but there are still lessons here that other postal operators can learn:

Scalability and future proofed – It’s important that the new systems can scale and will stand the test of time. As appealing it maybe to implement sequential postcodes or identifiers based on place names it’s just not feasible when addresses are so frequently changing.

Property Level Coordinates – As we move more and more into the digital age we are sadly moving away from a time where we can rely on local knowledge. Property level coordinates for couriers and many other industries are vital. As traditional mail volumes decline and operators turn to other revenue streams coordinate data for internal and third party maybe an avenue they wish to explore.

Understanding the market – Speaking to many attendees it was clear the problems within the Irish postal system are very different from those over here in the UK. The different problems weren’t purely down to the fact that we currently have postcodes and Ireland doesn’t but as much down to cultural differences. It’s vital that the culture of the region is taken into account when implementing projects such as Eircode and operators understand that there’s not going to be a one size fits all solution for all countries.

Will Irish postcodes make a difference to your business? Do you welcome the introduction? Let us know below.

  • Maybe the postcode system in the UK needs a refresh to incorporate the same concepts. Not only is it getting a bit “long in the tooth” but it was sold off by the UK Government as part of the Royal Mail sale. It is not really fit for purpose any more. #newpostcodesystem

  • Thanks for your comment Richard.

    I certainly agree that a lot can be learnt from the this project and the UK system could certainly do with a bit of tweaking. It will be interesting to see what happens when the project goes live and whether there are any teething problems.

  • For our business the Irish postcode system will be a tremendous benefit. The ability to have more defined addresses for businesses and homes will suit our address validation system and our postcode to postcode look up!
    We have several customers who cant wait!

  • This is already available in Ireland via Loc8 Codes;- a digital addressing coding system which applies to all locations not just properties. Already used by Public and Commercial entities in Ireland;- supported as a FREE standard on all popular Garmin satnavs. No need to keep waiting for a National postcode which is already 6 years late for its Jan 2008 delivery deadline!

  • Natalie

    Hi Gary, that’s a really good point actually, and is something we have touched on in our most recent blog – ‘You may have it but do you know it’ The Irish have Loc8 codes but do they know them and are they using them?

  • There are plenty using Loc8 Codes including An Post themselves and Irish State Agencies. Feel free to contact us for some insights if you are planning to write an article and choose to do some background research first. In the meantime, your readers might be interested in the article at this link which suggests that Eircode, its design and delivery, will actually make Irish addressing worse instead of better:

  • I had to attend a meeting with an Englishman and a Dutchman in Dublin earlier this week. We were travelling separately to the meeting. I found my way because I had been to the location years ago but the 20 year old business park wasn’t actually on my integrated VW satnav (latest maps) or Google Maps or Apple Maps.

    With 10 minutes to go before the meeting there was no sign of my foreign visitorsI sent them the text with the Lat/Long. It turned out they had been very close but through an error inputting the Lat/Long they ended up 25km off course. They eventually made the tail end of the meeting. They were embarrassed to be late and astounded that we don’t have a proper postcode system in Ireland. Unfortunately I realised after the event that they did have a Loc8 compatible Garmin in their hire car and we could have avoided a small fiasco.

    The very next day I had a customer call to my premises in Dublin after driving from Limerick. He had used our Loc8 code and a Garmin to get right to the door. He was thrilled by the simplicity and the accuracy.

    There must be many hundreds of thousands of man hours being lost throughout the country because of this ongoing postcode fiasco and the proposed Eircodes look like a donkey designed to fail akin to the eVoting machines.

  • Towger

    Hi Gavin,

    You are right about how good the Loc8 system is. Unfortunately with Eircode, while each property will have a unique postcode, it will be not be possible to locate a property without paying an annual subscription. The first 3 characters of an Eircode divides the country into one of 139 areas. The last 4 characters are random and there is no modulus check. It is not much of a system when it only narrows down a building to a couple of dozen square Km and still suffers from keying errors.

  • eastsmer

    Odd that you had to go to another country to discuss an Irish postcode for Ireland, not ‘Southern Ireland’ which does not exist by the way.