Royal Mail promises 2nd class service on postcode data
Keeps PAF in its sack
The Royal Mail looks set to disappoint members of the public hoping to see the contentious Postcode Address File database opened up for free access on the internet.
On Monday the UK government reiterated plans to get the Ordnance Survey to open up some postcode data from April 2010.
In November, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the government would grant British citizens more access to some OS data from next year.
Earlier this week the PM added a little more detail about what data would be made available to the public.
“From April next year Ordnance Survey will open up information about administrative boundaries, postcode areas and mid-scale mapping,” he said.
“All of this will be available for free commercial re-use, enabling people for the first time to take the material and easily turn it into applications, like fix my street or the postcode paper,” said Brown on Monday in a speech dubbed ‘Smarter Government'. It came ahead of Wednesday’s pre-budget speech, which alluded to £5bn cuts from technology projects.
However, it’s less clear if such a move would lead to the Royal Mail’s PAF database, which in 2007 pulled in £1.6m in licensing fees for the state-owned company, being opened up.
We asked the Royal Mail what the prime minister's announcement on postcode data meant for the PAF database. And for now it's remaining resolute about its data and who owns it.
"Royal Mail invests significantly in collating and maintaining the Postcode Address File (PAF) and this cost is recovered in an independently regulated licensing," it told The Register.
All of which seems to suggest that the government's postcode proposals fall short of opening up the PAF database to all comers.
In recent months the Royal Mail has been bullish about keeping the PAF under wraps, despite attempts by some to free up the database.
As we reported in September, an alleged copy of the UK postcode list - though not the entire PAF database - tipped up on whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Shortly afterward the Royal Mail's lawyers served legal papers against a number of sites, including El Reg, in an effort to have links to the data removed.
Come October, a UK postcode lookup service (North London-based Ernest Marples Postcodes Ltd) was slapped with a cease and desist letter from the Royal Mail, forcing it to close down its website. It had been providing web outfits with an API to power their sites that helped people search for information specific to their area.
In not unrelated news, UK.gov opened up a further 146 datasets over the weekend, the details are here, however you will need to be a member of the UK government data developers group in order to gain access to it. ®
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away...
ABout 20 years ago I worked for a postcode software house and I can vouch for the fact, as previously stated, that the quality of the quarterly updates was, and continues to be, appalling.
In one update RM 'lost' Ashby-de-la-Zouch and parts of Leicester completely. As we were undertaking the postcoding of all NHS GP patient records at the time this made our task interesting and led to some 'lively' discussions with RM's PAF bozos (sorry, civil servants) down in Poole.
When we demoed the software to the TV Licencing Authority their comment was along the lines of 'very interesting but way out of date'. TV Licencing have, or had, teams of agents touring the UK looking for new building sites which they can then target. This information is then passed on to RM for postcoding. As a result TV licencing have a far better database than RM and some postcodes refer to 'Plot XYZ, Skoggins Royd' or such which.
So, can we have the TV Licencing database instead of the PAF; it's tons better?
BTW, can we have a 'Yeh, And' Icon for the bleedin' obvious please 'cos it's bleedin' obvious RM isn't going to relinquish its death grip on the PAF without a war.
epic, epic fail
that is a fail so large, epic fail does not even begin to encompass the fail
RE: Are They Claiming Copyright?
"I could churn out a UK post code listing of my own devising with not much intellectual effort"
I wish you could, however you must be very careful as it would probably be considered derivative of the copyright, and would be in violation.
You'd need to use something completely different with no relation to the format of the current system. For example you'd probably need to prove that it is directly related to a different - and open - system (such as Lat/Lon)