Written answers

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Information and Communications Technology

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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588. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of Departments, State bodies and-or agencies using the Eircode system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8609/17]

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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589. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the cost of upgrading information technology systems and-or databases to incorporate the use of Eircode; if the use of Eircode is mandatory in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8628/17]

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois, Sinn Fein)
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590. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to encourage an increase in usage of the Eircode system; and if any consideration has been given to amending the current system for this purpose. [8647/17]

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 588 to 590, inclusive, together.

Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, was awarded a 10 year contract in December 2013 to develop, implement, maintain and promote the use of the National Postcode System "Eircode".

The contract provided for a programme of public sector database encoding with Eircodes for 15 public sector bodies who have frequent interaction with the public. Prior to the Eircode launch approximately 80 million public sector database records were encoded with Eircodes, costing €11.5m (VAT inclusive).

Public sector bodies have used their regular on-going ICT software upgrades to incorporate Eircodes as part of other changes to their systems. Therefore, public sector bodies with large number of complex ICT systems have implemented Eircodes on an incremental basis as systems come up for change or renewal. This has resulted in no significant cost to those bodies.  

Staff in my Department when communicating with households include Eircode on outgoing mail, on department publications, application forms, headed paper, e-mail signatures, complementary slips and on the website. In all correspondence with the Department, staff request and use Eircodes. My Department continues to identify opportunities to realise the benefits integrating Eircodes will bring within the various areas of the Department and agencies under our aegis.

Eircodes are being used by the large public sector bodies, including, Revenue, Department of Social Protection, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, and the Health Service Executive. Many other state bodies and agencies that have interaction with the public have also incorporated the Eircode into their systems. These include the Department Transport, Tourism & Sport; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Local Government Management Agency; Central Statistics Office; Department of Education & Skills; Residential Tenancies Board; Companies Registration Office; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland; Ordnance Survey Ireland; An Post; National Treasury Management Agency; Electric Ireland and ESB Networks.

Some examples of how the Eircode has been successfully implemented in public sector bodies are described below:  

- National Ambulance Service (NAS) have integrated Eircodes into their Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD). This means that the patient’s address and the position of the nearest available ambulance can be accurately pinpointed on a digital map, enabling an ambulance to be quickly and accurately routed to someone in need of medical help. This is of particular benefit to rural Ireland with 35% non-unique addresses which caused significant operational challenges in the past;

- Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) has integrated Eircodes into its educational grants award system which assists students apply for the correct rate of grant;

- Central Statistics Office (CSO) utilises Eircode as part of their core data and launched the new Residential Property Price Index covering all market purchases of houses and apartments, including in rural Ireland.  Eircodes provide the necessary addition of better quality location information, allowing the register measure prices with greater accuracy by using the Eircode Routing Key;

- National Broadband Plan. Currently Eircodes are in use on the Department’s High Speed Broadband Map 2020. Users simply enter the Eircode of the residential or commercial premises and the map indicates whether the premises falls within the Blue area that is being served by commercial operators or within the Amber area which will be covered by the State intervention;

- National Transport Authority (NTA) has incorporated Eircodes within the National Journey Planner app for use by the public. The app provides journey planning, timetable and travel information from all licensed public transport providers across Ireland;

- Waterford City and County Council have incorporated the Eircode into customer management systems, used by members of the public to report incidents to the Council; and

- The HSE have incorporated Eircodes into the Individual Health Identifier (IHI) system. The IHI system is a key enabler for the Governments eHealth strategy.

Increasing numbers of the public are looking-up Eircodes on the free to use Eircode Finder website, which remains very popular, with just under 10m searches since the finder went live at launch. In addition, Capita provide regular updates to Google who have now integrated Eircodes within Google Maps.

Capita have run a number of national advertising campaigns on television, radio and online to raise public awareness of using Eircodes for deliveries and during emergency situations.  Capita will continue to promote and market the use of Eircodes in the coming year to increase uptake and usage of the Eircode system among members of the public and businesses.


Eamonn O 'Regan
Posted on 15 Mar 2017 3:58 pm (Report this comment)

That's all very well- but eircodes have failed to gain traction with the public as they are largely invisible;
They are not mandatory so people see them as useless and of no benefit to them. ( weren't they supposed to be of benefit to the public?)
You will not, some 18 months after their launch, see them attached to an overwhelming majority of business addresses;
I've seen an eircode printed on one vehicle only in that time;
Many people have forgotten their eircode( well, they don't have to use it, do they?) ;
Ask any postal worker- s/he will tell you An Post doesn't use them;
Most businesses don't see the point to them as they've been effecting deliveries for years without them;
Instead of monetising them- a failure- what incentives, if any, are proposed to get people to use them- is it proposed to make them mandatory for private mail, for example? If not, why not?
The fact that this writer has been the only one to address this matter on this forum tells me something! The truth is, like it or not, that these codes are largely invisible.
If it's policy to roll them out, surely it makes sense to use imagination here and come up with ideas to actively encourage people to use them;
If it happens that they are not adopted by the public and businesses, the high cost of bringing them in in the first place will have been wasted.
This project needs determined political support to make it a success. This will involve imagination, so rather than let them wither on the vine, come up with solutions, and fast. This is the 21st century, and the old argument that it took 30 years for UK postcodes, (introduced nearly 60 years ago) to gain traction is a bit limp, to be honest.
TV ads are a meaningless waste of money if their use is not obligatory.
Politicians and Eircode Ltd really need to rethink this project. It is moribund.

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