Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Eamon Ryan (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South, Green Party)
A smart economy requires that the underlying infrastructure supports enterprises based on knowledge and innovation. For this, an ability to collate and assess data spatially is a prerequisite and postcodes can play a key role and can deliver economic and social benefits across the whole economy.
Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not have such a postal code in place, but as the Deputy is aware, the Government has now approved the implementation of a postcode system as recommended by the National Postcode Project Board.
This board, which comprised representatives from Departments, together with public and private sector organisations, was established to recommend the most technically appropriate postcode system for Ireland, design an implementation plan and assess the costs and benefits of postcodes.
In the course of its deliberations, the board looked at a number of postcode models and technologies including postal sector models and a number of spatial and hybrid postcode models taking into account several factors including memorability, likely uptake by the public and ability to adapt to emerging technologies. The model recommended, and since approved by Government, is an alpha-numeric, publicly available and accessible postal code model.
Each postcode will have a geo-coordinate at its centre and consequently, would be compatible with global positioning or navigation systems, allowing integration with GPS and other global navigation satellite technologies. Applications based on such systems become much more readily accessible to the public through the use of a postcode.
In arriving at this model, the technical and economic consultants who assisted the board engaged in a series of stakeholder consultations. These consultations revealed overwhelming support for the introduction of postcodes across public, private and voluntary sectors and identified that postcodes would not only deliver benefits for the postal sector, but assist in the delivery of public services and contribute to the development of a knowledge economy and the country's overall competitiveness.
My officials and I are currently working to address the next steps in this project. A competition will be launched shortly to select a body that will assist the Department in managing the delivery of a working postcodes system. That delivery will be effected by way of a competitive tender process. It is expected that postcodes will be assigned and in use by the end of 2011.