Much work still needed on postcodes

1 Apr 2010

Significant obstacles must be overcome if the new national postcode system, scheduled to be introduced by early 2011, is to be rolled out smoothly, an Oireachtas Committee report has found.

According to the report by the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Ireland must ensure that the public, businesses and the state sector are fully informed and consulted about the new postcode system.

“Worryingly, we have found that the public is generally unaware of the planned changes and many organisations, particularly SMEs, have not given proper consideration to their implications,” said Liz McManus TD, the report’s author and Committee member.

Reasonable cost

McManus also highlighted Ireland’s need for a postcode system, but one delivered a reasonable cost: “Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not have postcodes and the opportunity arises for us, with proper planning and preparation to have the best postcode system.

“At a time of severe economic recession and high unemployment, it is important that the postcodes project offers measurable benefits and is delivered at a reasonable cost.

“It is also important that we use the best available technology. In our view, as Ireland is the last country in the EU to adopt postcodes, we should aim to be the best in terms of delivery.”

Unique identifier system

McManus also said the Oireachtas Committee did not believe that a postcode system based on clusters of 40-50 properties as proposed by the Government is appropriate for the current and future needs of the smart economy.

Instead it is recommending that the system should be based on a unique identifier system.

“A unique identifier system provides for a speedy response by emergency services, provides greater efficiency and interaction with GPS technologies, does not require change in names of townlands, etc, has low maintenance costs, and supports spatial planning and the delivery of health services in particular,” McManus explained.

McManus also said there are issues relating to data protection with the proposed postcode system which should be addressed, with legislation introduced if necessary.

Proper road map needed

The committee is recommending that a proper roadmap outlining precisely how postcodes will operate be published by September 2010. This should fully prepare the public, business and State bodies for the change, it said.

It also said that if a short lead-in time is envisaged for the new system, an incentive-based scheme should be introduced to encourage the use of postcodes. This could include free postage for a month for households who opt to use postcodes.

“As an invitation for tenders is likely to be made in the coming months there is only limited time to ensure that we get it right and that all remaining problems are ironed out,” McManus warned.

Photo: Ireland must ensure that the public, businesses and the state sector are informed and consulted about the new postcode system, a report by the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources suggests

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