The roll-out of the €27 million National Postcodes System (Eircode) is promising to bring significant benefits to consumers when it is introduced next year.
Those benefits will be felt by businesses and rural communities while improving the delivery of public services, including emergency services, according to the Department of Communications.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications today, representatives of the Department said they were confident that the Eircode system would: Facilitate the accurate location of all addresses in the State, including the 35% of Irish addresses that are ‘non-unique.’
The said it would make it easier for consumers to shop online and assist the development of Irish online commerce, facilitate better delivery of public services, allow delivery companies to accurately identify addresses and sequence deliveries and make it quicker and easier for emergency services to locate addresses, particularly in rural areas.
Every address in Ireland will be allocated a unique and memorable 7-digit postcode in mid-2015. The Department believes most residents and businesses will take up the benefits of using their postcode although, as in other countries, it will not be compulsory to do so.
The Department has consulted widely with stakeholders, including An Post and commercial delivery companies, to ensure that the national postcode system would effectively meet consumer and business needs. It has also engaged with the Data Protection Commissioner in relation to the data protection aspects of the project.
Departmental officials explained that 35% of addresses in Ireland are non-unique and that the Eircodes system had been developed to take account of this unique challenge. Non-unique addresses are particularly common in rural areas where multiple householders in particular localities often also have the same surname. Together, this makes is difficult to deliver to the correct address. The Eircodes system will assign a unique identifier to each address, making it easier to locate the correct addresses.
The Departmental representatives told the Joint Oireachtas Committee that all major public service providers will be using Eircodes as soon as they are introduced next year.
The Eircode system has also been welcomed by Ireland’s biggest independent delivery firm Nightline, which delivers over 800,000 parcels a month in Ireland. John Tuohy of Nightline has said: “The system, as proposed, is entirely workable and will be a boon for residents and businesses. It actually promises to help my sector speed up deliveries and make them even more accurate than they are at present.”
Departmental representatives said the National Ambulance Service also supported Eircodes. Its National Director Martin Dunne said the introduction of Eircodes would assist in the rapid identification of non-unique addresses. “A considerable number of ambulance calls are to various types of premises and the Eircodes system will allow fast and accurate location of these incidents. The new national computer-aided dispatch system, which will be implemented in 2015, will be Eircodes enabled,” Mr Dunne said.
The establishment of Eircodes is expected to cost around €27million, most of which will be spent on encoding public service databases (36% of costs) and on accessing the GeoDirectory datebase, which is owned by An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland (46% of costs).