Friday 30 September 2016

Experts warn €27m Eircode project is 'not fit for purpose'

Published 14/07/2015 | 02:30

Minister Alex White
Minister Alex White

The launch of Ireland's new postcode system 'Eircode' has been marred by controversy, with many experts claiming the €27m project is "not fit for purpose".

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Freight companies, couriers and emergency service operators have all described the initiative as a "waste of time and money", with the latter claiming it may even "cost lives".

And on its launch yesterday the site, which allows users to look up locations on an interactive map, didn't have a code for landmarks, including the General Post Office (GPO) on Dublin's O'Connell Street.

It also suggested that Shannon Airport was in Co Limerick.

The system, which was proposed over a decade ago, will assign a unique code to some 2.2 million homes.

But, despite being aimed at reducing confusion surrounding generic addresses, many have slammed the random nature of the codes.

Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association chairperson John Kidd has said they could be "catastrophic" in emergency situations.

"Because Eircode does not identify small local areas, it will be of little benefit for a large number of callouts" he said.

"Our colleagues in Northern Ireland are used to postcodes that can be learned and are predictable so that they can find localities easily from memory. Eircode does not offer that capability."

Companies such as FedEx, and DHL have all publicly declared that they will not use Eircode due to its design.

However, Irish courier Nightline says the service is welcome and long overdue.

"It's going to improve efficiency and improve the services we can bring to rural communities," said CEO John Tuohy.

"We believe that the system is good enough for Irish conditions," he added.

Satnav makers such as TomTom have also said that they had no immediate plans to implement the system, and it will not yet be compatible with services such as Google Maps.

On the first day of operation, users reported a large number of problems with the Eircode website. However, despite the hiccups, Communications Minister Alex White said the system would prove itself to be effective, adding that it was here to stay.

"We cannot expect to have the entire system finalised on day one," he said.

When asked if he was concerned about couriers stating that they would not use the system, he insisted that they would when they saw its benefits.

"From today, a business that delivers parcels, or other goods or services, will have an affordable and effective new tool that actively identifies addresses," he said.

"I think in lots of ways an important infrastructure project like this is going to take some time to bed down and for people to understand it. There will be no addresses excluded whatsoever."

According to Conradh na Gaeilge, up to 50,000 placements are inaccurate or completely missing from the system.

The Eircode system will give every house in the country a unique seven-digit postcode.

The first three numbers will be a reference to the area where your house is located while the other four digits correspond to a particular address.

Current postcodes like Dublin 1 will become D01, while Galway gets H and Cork gets T.

Each code that is generated for an address is random, meaning the code for adjacent properties bear no relation to each other.

It will be at the full discretion of the householder if they wish to use their new code.

However, it may be requested by some emergency services, online shops or couriers.

The code will be added to the end of your existing address if you want to use it.

In the coming weeks, Eircode will be issuing letters to every house in the country advising them of their new postcode.

How the Eircode system works

The Eircode system will give every house in the country a unique seven-digit postcode.

The first three numbers will be a reference to the area where your house is located while the other four digits correspond to a particular address.

Current postcodes like Dublin 1 will become D01, while Galway gets H and Cork gets T.

Each code that is generated for an address is random, meaning the code for adjacent properties bear no relation to each other.

It will be at the full discretion of the householder if they wish to use their new code.

However, it may be requested by some emergency services, online shops or couriers.

The code will be added to the end of your existing address if you want to use it.

In the coming weeks, Eircode will be issuing letters to every house in the country advising them of their new postcode.

You can also check it out now at www.eircode.ie where there is a limit of 15 searches per day.

Irish Independent

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