After many false starts and delays, Ireland is finally expected to have its new postal code system, dubbed the Eircode, ready shortly. Ireland was one of the few developed nations without a postal code, and, as a late starter, Ireland has been able to learn from the decades of use other systems have had and has decided to tackle the issue in a new way.
Ireland’s system will have unique identifiers for each property rather than for geographical areas, postal delivery routes or groups of delivery points, as is common is other countries. This means a separate code for each house on a street, each flat in an apartment block, each house in rural areas and both units in a duplex unit. These codes will not be related to, or identifiable with, the location of the property; nor related to the codes of the properties around it. This has caused concern that services will not be able to interpret the codes to find their way to properties in emergencies, or to spot errors in codes, as their colleagues in Northern Ireland can – the Northern Irish codes have a link to geography – and this can cause delays and cost lives. Anybody reporting a crime or a fire, apart from the residents of a property, are also unlikely to know the Eircode of that property, limiting its usefulness in some areas of society.
Eircode points out that their system means that no codes ever need to be altered or reassigned as they are in other systems – a future-proofing which also has the side-effect of protecting the code developer’s investment in the system. They are confident that fears about the code will be allayed when it is put into practice – I, for one, will be watching closely.
There will be no changes to the existing Irish address structure – the Eircode, which will be three characters, a space and four more characters, will simply be added to the end of the address block. The first three characters (not related to any town, county or geographic feature) provide routing information, the last four are a unique identifier for each property/address. The sometimes rambling and descriptive nature of some Irish addresses is likely to evolve over time after the Eircode becomes commonly used, but by retaining the full address deliverability won’t be affected by any errors made in that address’s Eircode.
Whatever the pros and cons of the system, potentially being able to access data providing location information for every delivery point will be a boon and have implications well beyond the delivery industry. A code for every property, accompanied by enrichment data such as map co-ordinates, will provide a wealth of new opportunities, from government through utilities and services to business and commerce. The price tag being put onto the data files by Eircode will prove a barrier for some, but suppliers like PCA Predict are there to step into the breach and enable access for all to this data on a pay-per-use level.
Are you looking capture new Irish addresses in your checkout forms? Find out more about the benefits of Eircodes.