The new postcode system is set to come in to effect next year, but Communications Minister Alex White is facing growing objections from business and industry interests, as well as concern from emergency services.
In April, the then Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, announced that the new postcode system would be rolled out by next spring. The system, called Eircode, is operated by a company called Capita which has a 10 year contract with the Department.
However, last month, the European Commission criticised the Government’s handling of the tender process for that contract, which had excluded companies with a turnover of less than €40m from participating.
One of those companies is Loc8 Code, run by Gary Delaney, which is already in use by Garmin SatNav Systems and even by local authorities and state organisations such as the HSE.
Unlike Eircode, Gary’s system is designed as more than just a postcode: it’s designed as a navigation code, where adjacent codes are associated with adjacent areas. A major criticism of the Eircode system is that the last four digits of their codes are randomised. There is no way to deduce the relative location of two Eircodes without looking them up in the database, and paying for that access.
The Freight Transport Association of Ireland has strongly criticised the proposed system, pointing out that it does not comply with the principles established by an Oireachtas Committee in 2010. The FTAI is critical of the lack of consultation on the issue, and says that its members are unlikely to pay licence fees for a system which is not “fit for purpose” in their view, and that they will continue to use existing systems such as Loc8 Code.
Gary Delaney estimates the cost of Eircode implementation at €100m, and in this video posted on Facebook, he likens the situation to previous government IT fiascos such as PPARS and E-voting. He also claims that the emergency services have expressed concern about the lack of consultation on the project and have requested that reference to them be removed from marketing material referring to the new system.
So have we another IT fiasco on our hands? Is Eircode an expensive solution to a simple and already solved problem; a solution which no one will pay to use?