Plans to introduce a national postcode in Ireland are now more than 3 years delayed. In the meantime, an alternative has gone from strength to strength
There are already more that 150,000 users of the Loc8 Code digital address service, an alternative modern form of postcode, which was introduced to the whole island by an Irish Company in July of 2010. As a result, vehicle based commercial services in Ireland are already saving time and up to 15% in fuel costs by using Loc8 Codes in ordering, routing and navigation systems. Tourists are even venturing to more out-of-the-way places with greater confidence because of the precise coding system.Loc8 (pronounced âlocateâ) Code Ltd, which is an Enterprise Ireland supported company, argues that postcodes are old technology and not needed in a modern Mapping and GPS technology era. The Government plan proposes spending tens of millions on a postcode solution which was conceived well before Google Maps and iPhones were available to the Irish population.Since coming into power, the new Government has been deciding if it will proceed with plans for a postcode that were first put forward by Noel Dempsey as minister for Transport 6 years ago. Meanwhile, Loc8 says that postcodes are old and ânon-smartâ technology and that their Loc8 Code service is what a modern âsmartâ economy should be using. Gary Delaney, an experienced GPS and Mapping consultant and CEO of Loc8 Code Ltd (pictured above), stated that postcodes are based on 1960âs technologies and since first proposed for Ireland in 2005, Google maps, SatNavs and iPhones have come into popular use and have changed radically how people find places. He also said that sales of GPS enabled phones alone had increased by 97% globally in 2010, clearly indicating how reliant on solutions based on these technologies ordinary people have become. Mr. Delaney stated that the old-technology postcode still proposed for Ireland as a national system could not be easily used with these modern technologies. It will only identify the centre of large groups of properties and will not assist in any way to find an individual one or a tourist feature in the countryside. Billy Hawkes, the Data Commissioner, has dictated that the version of the proposed postcode which will be available to the public will not be able to identify individual addresses, whilst behind the scenes, Government approved agencies will use a longer and more cumbersome version of the code for tax, social welfare and other national administrative purposes. If this proposal proceeds, when a home owner rings for an ambulance they will only be able to give the limited 6 character public code for their house which in rural areas will only guide the ambulance driver to somewhere within their townland area. Once there, local knowledge or verbal directions will still be required to find the final destination. Over 720,000 properties in the Republic have this type of townland address. As a result of reorganisation, emergency personnel now operate over much wider areas including those with non-unique townland based addressing and in places where very often they may not have any local knowledge whatsoever.To address these issues, Loc8 Code introduced a modern form of postcode which is orientated towards popular GPS and Mapping technologies and it can allocate a unique code to individual properties. It can also be used with non properties including historical and heritage related tourist attractions or even an accident site along a road. Loc8 is already available to the public, to businesses and to public services alike. Loc8 is a digital address code for the âpost Postcode eraâ in which we now are, thanks to modern mapping, navigation and communications technologies. Traditional postcodes are more associated with older technologies from an earlier era when we totally relied on hand sorted mail and the local knowledge of a postman to deliver it. 5 years ago, couriers would very often stop by the local post office or postman to ask for directions, but this is no longer acceptable as An Post and Couriers are now competing for some of the same business.Loc8 Codes are already supported on Garmin SatNavs and on an iPhone App with Google maps and these allow ambulance drivers, paramedics, couriers, fast-food delivery personnel and even the Satellite TV installer to find an address without difficulty or delay whether it is in the city or the country or in a house, a caravan or a boat.The Loc8 Code âpoint8â App for the iPhone;- supporting Google, Navigon and TomTom navigation, was the most popular Navigation download in Ireland from the Appleâs iTunes store over the May Bank Holiday weekend, indicating the popularity that Loc8 Codes now have in the country. Many Business, Hotel, B&B and Tourist related websites already display Loc8 Codes with address details to make it easier for clients to find them.A pre-qualification process for the implementation of the national postcode which was initiated by Eamon Ryan, then Minister for Communications, in January last, has been on hold since the new Communications Minister Pat Rabitte TD (Lab) took over. Results of the pre-qualification are now almost 2 months overdue. Both FG and Labour parties had stated in their election manifestos that they would change the previous Governmentâs proposals in favour of something more modern and GPS orientated. Both Liz Mc Manus (former Labour TD) and new Minister for Agriculture Marine and Food, Simon Coveney TD FG , then opposition spokesman on Communications, had contributed to last yearâs Oireachtas report on Postcodes which strongly recommended an alternative modern technology approach such as that proposed by Loc8 Code. In a Dail debate before the Easter recess, Olivia Mitchell TD of FG stated : âI favour use of a GPS systemâ¦â¦We must choose a system that stands the test of time, regardless of the equipment used by An Postâ¦â¦â¦GPS is based on latitude and longitude and is a foolproof systemâ.It is widely recognised by many, including An Post, that a traditional non GPS analogue postcode is no longer required for sorting mail as An Post has already invested in alternative automated sorting technology. The Department of Communicationsâ own recent consultantsâ reports indicate that for An Post to adopt the proposed postcode a new investment of over â¬20 million would be required;- which, given their recent financial losses and projected related job losses over the next few years, the organisation may not be able to afford especially if the proposed postcode is not going to help operations in any way.Delaney stated that the â¬20 million expenditure by An Post would be in addition to the â¬15 million estimated for the postcode implementation nationally itself and the multi millions which would be required by other state agencies to adopt it. Loc8 Codes are already in place and being used by those who need them:- couriers, motorists, fast-food deliveries, utility companies, emergency services, service providers and tourist and tourism interests and can save the Exchequer tens of millions of Euros associated with a proposed system which would be both outdated and defunct even before it would be introduced. Furthermore, Loc8 Codes already have the support of major international technology partners. The system also already works in Northern Ireland so that those in the logistics industry working back and forward across the border on a daily basis can use a common system which will get them consistently in the right entrance at their destination. Mr. Delaney also highlighted that even if the Government did decide to move the National process forward at this point, it would still take until the end of 2011 to decide on a suitable provider and then take until mid 2013 to deliver it to the public; this being 5 and a half years after the targeted introduction date with very significant changes in global technology since the plan was first conceived more than 8 years previously.Recently in a US based blog site, IrishCentral.com, it was reported that it was difficult to find places in Ireland. Bodenstown Cemetery and the President Nixon Quaker Memorial stone in Timahoe Co. Kildare were specifically mentioned for their significance and the difficulty of the American writer in trying to find them. Given that tourism is a large part of this countryâs annual revenue and the American market is currently being specifically targeted by Failte Ireland, this post which has been read by thousands in the USA, highlights a major setback for tourism. This is something that can be easily and instantaneously resolved by the use of Loc8 Codes. The proposed national postcode on the other hand would be of no assistance as it could not identify something that is not a building in the first place but even it could, in both cases the related postcode would cover an area tens of kilometres wide and of little use for finding it with navigation devices. A Loc8 Code would define the location and its entrance to precise +/- 6 metre accuracy. The Loc8 Code for the Nixon Memorial Quaker stone is M35-14-X52 ( www.loc8code.com/M53-14-X52 ) and can be just punched in on Garmin SatNav devices;- the most popular navigation devices in use in the USA at present. Over the May bank holiday weekend, serious gorse & forest fires troubled the emergency services across the whole island. The planned National postcode would not help fire crews or army personnel getting to reported outbreaks whilst on the other hand Loc8 Codes would. Already forest plantation owners use Loc8 Codes to identify both their sites and related accesses, not only to help workers but also to assist a speedy response by fire crews in the case of a fire outbreak. No traditional postcode, including that already in use in Northern Ireland, could provide a better solution than Loc8 Codes in these circumstances.Loc8 Codes are already a popularly accepted digital address code solution which is supported on widely available technologies. They are already saving time and money for many organisations and individuals on both sides of the border. The company has offered to work with An Post, the Department of Communications and the Government to offer Loc8 Codes for whatever requirements they may have in a much shorter period, and in doing so saving the exchequer many scarce tens of millions of Euro.
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