Seanad debates

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Proposed Postcodes: Statements


5:00 pm

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South, Green Party)

The Senator is right in that one of the possible outcomes from having such a postcode system, and this goes back to what I said about the economic and employment opportunities available, is that there may be a greater facility for direct mail services on the back of a postal code system. That is the reason we must be careful. While we appreciate that may have certain benefits and advantages, it is not something we want to pursue without providing householders with the ability to say "No" to it and not be a recipient of such extensive additional mail.

The mailing system is changing. In quantity terms it is moving away from the typical social communication network that was the case previously. We do not write letters to each other in this modern world. We text, tweet or e-mail, but there is an increasing reliance on the mail for many business services and even public services through direct communication. Direct mail advertising might be unnecessary but it also provides a valuable function for many companies here.

As to whether GPS would be more accurate, that is possibly the case but the information I have is that using the data systems we will look to use for the provision of a postcode will allow us provide a location code that will identify a location down to the nearest square metre or few square metres. That will allow an ambulance driver on an emergency call identify a piece of infrastructure or a roadway that will help them get to a specific location. Subject to the approval of the Data Protection Commissioner, this code can be evolved in a way that provides that level of accuracy for the ambulance service and other infrastructural services while not infringing people's right to privacy. I am told it is possible for us to do that in a way that is just as effective as GPS.


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