The Return of the Dodgy Postmaster..

Great to see a little bit of humour applied the the serious stuff of freeing up Government Data. ernestmarples.com, is  a project which is making available via an API the Post Office Address (PAF) file.  I wonder how the Post Office will respond to this piece of civic minded provocation.

There is no doubt that the postcode is off massive value for building local websites and all things Geo in the UK, as it is key to geocoding many other datasets.

In parallel to the more public debate about OS mapping data, you could argue that making the postcode freely available would have a much greater impact as it’s potential use is more widespread than mapping.

The problem is the Post Office recognise its value and change extortionate fess for people to use it, especially online.

Lets hope this site does not go the way of it’s namesake, the real Ernest Marples escaped to Monaco pursued by the Inland Revenue and Scotland Yard !

2 comments

  1. John Schonegevel

    Hi Ed

    I’m sorry but even with the humorous angle, I struggle to accept that it is okay to steal someone’s data.

    I’d also pick up on your comment;

    “…you could argue that making the postcode freely available would have a much greater impact as it’s potential use is more widespread than mapping.

    The problem is the Post Office recognise its value and change extortionate fess for people to use it, especially online.”

    And suggest changing it to;

    …you could argue that making Google Adwords freely available would have a much greater impact as its actual use is more widespread than mapping (or postcodes).

    The problem is that Google recognises its value and charges extortionate fees for advertisers to use it.

    Someone always ends up paying!

  2. TG

    Indeed, one cannot condone IPR theft and besides anyone with a commercial interest in data cannot pretend to be an innocent bystander.

    However… addressing data is so fundamental that, without it, many data-related products and services are simply not possible. Ever since coming to the UK I have been baffled by the complexity and cost of addressing data – in many other countries it is a lot simpler and cheaper. This is surprising considering how dynamic and enterprising the UK market is otherwise. So the frustration is understandable, as the present situation kills many good business ideas from the outset.

    Could someone like Google not simply provide an alternative addressing system based on their own mapping platform and property-level lat/long positions? Because of its ubiquity and simple GPS compatibility it could easily become a de-facto standard, and licensing-wise you could probably get away with a one-off payment to manage the transition from old to new addressing system. After this use would be free as it would simply rely on public domain lat/long(-derived) values. Everyone would benefit, from users to advertisers to resellers etc.

    Thierry

    p.s. Nice GQ article, Ed!

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