Location services find their place

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14 February 2018 | 0

Niall Kitson portraitTwo things happened to me in the past few weeks that reminded me we have a national postcode system. Not that we need one, mind you, just that we’ve had one since 2015 and it’s not terribly popular. The first was a flurry of online purchases I had to make across a number of websites where for the first time I can remember, the box for an Eircode was mandatory. This was repeated in-store where a large order I was asked for my Eircode as a guide to the drivers – Google Maps having adopted it last November. Did it make any difference to my quality of service? I still confirmed my location by phone when delivery was en route and gave the same nudges with the same landmarks. System failure or good customer relations?

Item the second. Like many city dwellers I’m noticing many greenfield spaces being converted into residential developments – usually low-rise apartment blocks. “That’s a lot of home deliveries,” I thought. It’s a good thing there’s a post code… only there isn’t. One of the quirks of Eircode is that codes are assigned instead of generated. If someone decides to plonk a new development across the road from me I can me sure only the first three of seven digits will bear any resemblance to my own. Numbers and letters for their own sake.

The criticisms of Eircode on its problematic launch still hold up. It lacks logic, relies An Post GeoDirectory data supplied on a quarterly basis, and is still only required by a handful of services and retailers.

This brings me to a welcome development from Eircode’s predecessor/competitor Loc8.

At the end of January is was announced that the National Ambulance Service would be using Loc8 as a solution for identifying non-postal locations accurately and in real time. Work has already taken place assigning codes to emergency planning locations, life bouys and other assembly points. As codes are generated dynamically they provide a solution for unfinished developments, temporary structures and other buildings not currently served by an Eircode in urban areas. I understand there is even a volunteer effort to add Loc8 codes to signposts around the country.

In 2015, I anticipated a clash of systems between Eircode and the technically superior Loc8 but it seems a detente has been reached with the former taking home and businesses and the latter anywhere without a front door.

I don’t know my Loc8 code off yet, but I have a feeling it will be more useful in an emergency. The other one… well it’s there if I need it. Like when I need to fill out a form.

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