Eircode – Location Codes for Irish AddressesBy
So Ireland now has a postcode system? Took long enough. It is the last country in Europe to install a postcode system, by quite a few years, we should think. In fact, on the two page website announcing the development of the system we are told that 35% of rural dwelling and businesses have no address at all! But it must work or it would not have taken quite so long. The site tells us the codes will be distributed nationwide in 2015 and “will identify an individual address – rural or urban – and help show exactly where it is located, unlike other countries, where postcodes define lusters or groups of addresses. It is much more than just a postcode. It is a smart location code for all Irish addresses.”
Yes, it’s a postcode, not a street address. The difference is that with postcodes, any postcode including the Eircode, you’ll need an intimate comprehension of the algorithm or other whiz-bang mathematics tool used to construct it, or a map bearing the notations of the postcode, in order to physically locate the code. So it’s a smart location code as long as you have a map with postcodes outlined or positioned. And that’s pretty much like a street addressing system. Just less intuitive.
But it lacks something the street addressing system has. Street signs and house numbers. One doubts there will be street signs bearing postcode ranges on street corners. Maybe there will be postcode placards on buildings. Maybe.
With all the hoopla about geolocated postcodes composed of bunches of letters and numbers with no apparent pattern connecting them, we’ve seen no discussion of how real people on the ground will make use of these, and whether they really replace the street name and number system. The letter carriers will have to associate postcodes with buildings, which will take time, of course. And the postcodes will be of little to no use for anyone else, unless they have a postcode-strewn map. Sounds like a business opportunity, that.
So it’s an advance, and the height of digital sophistication, and will be interesting for businesses to integrate into their databases. In fact, given that each is unique in the country, all a mailer or shipper needs is a recipient name and the postcode. City/town/street name/house number will all become decorations.
However, we hope that customer name and “street address” will survive together in order to preserve some coherence and usefulness of the undeliverable system, both the institutional version and the “local knowledge” version.
If the postcode is incorrectly attributed on a letter or parcel, and the named addressee is not to be found in that place, forwarding using “local knowledge” (‘That address is not in our postcode; ship it over to the one I’m handwriting on the box.’) will be out of the question. Presumably the mail goes back to the sender, an expensive proposition with a parcel. If the parcel has name AND street address and town and postcode, the carrier can solve that problem without returning to sender. But, is that good or bad? We still have a shipper with a customer file having a bad postcode.
So at the end of the day, we have an advance of sorts. But the postcodes will be employed more quickly and easily by the sorting machinery than by anyone else. In fact, maybe ONLY by the machinery and letter carriers.