However critics say they are ‘frustrated’ that this new code is being offered when its design was exactly what they had requested in the run-up to Eircode’s launch, only to have their suggestions ‘rubbished’.
Autoaddress, a member of the Capita Consortium chosen by the Department of Communications to design, develop and introduce Eircode, has recently met with companies in the transport industry to discuss the development of a Small Area Code (SAC) to facilitate deliveries.
Eircode’s controversial design, which sees random codes assigned to individual houses, was criticised by courier companies and digital rights advocates prior to its introduction last year.
The Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI) said Eircode adds time and cost to courier companies’ deliveries instead of providing the savings promised.
Companies such as FedEx, UPS and DHL had previously told the Oireachtas Committee on Communications that they would not use Eircode because of its design.
The FTAI, which represents many of these companies, told the committee that Eircode was ‘useless’ to its members. It urged the adoption of a structured postcode that would establish areas whose codes run sequentially, such as the postcode being used in the UK.
However despite this, the Department of Communications went ahead with the randomised design. Last year the Comptroller and Auditor General said the cost of implementing Eircode came in at €38m and that “it is not clear that benefits to the value projected will be achieved as a result of the implementation of Eircode”.
Autoaddress has since met with companies to discuss the new SAC, which bears similarities to the type of postcode used in the UK, and FTAI general manager Neil McDonnell said his members were “very impressed” with the proposal.
“Indeed one of the attendees at the briefing was consulted as an operator by the National Postcodes Project Board (NPPB) in 2006, and the SAC proposal was in line with what operators thought they were going to get 10 years ago.
“Despite the fact that operators were impressed by SACs, they were frustrated that the company which rubbished the industry requirement for a structured/hierarchical code for over a year was now proposing a structured/hierarchical code,” Mr McDonnell said.
“Aside from the fact that it should not be up to industry players to generate their own delivery code — that’s what the National Postcode Project Board process was meant to do — if SACs are hidden, and not state-backed, we’ll be back to square one because each company will go its own way with its preferred solution,” he said.
Autoaddress denies that SAC is an alternative to Eircode, or that the proposal is an indication Eircode is not being used by delivery firms.