Government needs to show Eircode is not waste of €27m

Over the last year, and it has seemed like that long, we’ve read several articles on the proposed new postal codes. 

Government needs to show Eircode is not waste of €27m

According to the Eircode website they were designed to make it easier to locate individual addresses. Its website also says that Eircode is a more advanced postcode system.

By that I am assuming that they mean more advanced than on a neighbouring island.

Having seen all the negative comments I decided to have a look for myself.

And yes, it was easy to access and also relatively easy to find my own address on www.finder.eircode.ie. The numbers and letters noted didn’t make an awful lot of sense to me but I had read somewhere that it was randomly selected.

So I then decided to check out my neighbours and relations and so on. Firstly, I noted that my neighbours had the same first three digits, namely a letter and two numbers. The second part of the code which comprises four letters and/or numbers was totally different.

I then decided to check out how far along the same street that the first three digits remained the same, but very soon I ran into a wall. Well, a message telling me that there is a limit to how many I can check — and that number is 15 in any single search session. Apparently, Eircode Finder is not for commercial use.

It did, of course, invite me to come back tomorrow for the opportunity to look up another 15 and so on. The other thing I found was that these three digits did not represent a local discreet area but apparently an area with a radius of possibly several miles.

Eircode says one of the benefits of the system is that it will “allow delivery and service companies to accurately identify addresses so your deliveries get to the right location.”

That somewhat surprised me as Freight Transport Association Ireland general manager, Neil McDonnell, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the system is not really useful if you are trying to locate an address.

Major freight and parcel delivery companies such as DHL, FedEx and UPS have said that they may not use it due to its design.

Another stated benefit is that it will “make it quicker and easier for medical emergency services to locate addresses.”

Why then does the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association reportedly believe that it could be “catastrophic” in some situations? Mind you, courier company, Nightline, is reported to have welcomed the system. It is one of the largest courier companies across Ireland.

However, GPS and SatNav companies like Tom Tom and Google Maps have no plans at present to use the system. So unless I know the full address my Christmas present of two years ago is of no better use to me than it was yesterday, at least in Ireland.

Another of Mr McDonnell’s comments that made lot of sense was his view that the system would be beneficial for revenue, social welfare and the health service. That probably says it all. It tells us who it was designed for.

It tells us who will benefit. It may indicate the terms of reference used for its design.

Significantly, it appears to ignore the needs of the customer, aka the public. The Garda Pulse system and the HSE payroll system are similar examples of troubled computer systems.

However, one of the most interesting aspects of Eircode is that its use is not compulsory. Now, I cannot understand, for the life of me, why we just spent north of €27m to develop a system that is not mandatory. Why did we do it when there are so many other more important and urgent uses for that money?

Eircode and the folk who commissioned and designed this system need to ensure that we really understand how this system will benefit us and make our lives easier. If they do not another €27m has been washed down the toilet with no benefit to the taxpayers of Ireland other than the spin and the alleged benefits that are shown on its website.

Paul Mills

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