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United States
I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help

Pledge “postcode”

"I will enter the location (coordinates from my GPS) and postcode of every place I visit (house, pub, shop..) to for a week but only if 10 other people will do the same."

— Steve Coast, known agitator

Deadline to sign up by: 20th November 2005
12 people signed up (2 over target)

Country: United Kingdom

More details
The postcode database - which turns a postcode to a latitude/longitude and back - is not free in the UK. In fact, it's very expensive. The Post Office owns it and sells it to various companies that make use of it for things like insurance or parcel tracking. There are however many people who'd like to use it for non-profit purposes. Say you want to lay out events like free concerts / gigs on a map and you only have the postcode... you have to buy the database.

Instead, wouldn't it be nice if it was free like zipcodes are in the US? To do this, you have to have a number of people collaborating with GPS units who note positions and postcodes. needs your help to make this possible, any data you enter will help us get a skelaton dataset up.

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Comments on this pledge

  • A list of UK postcode area codes and their grid coordinates are here for free (and have been for a long time)
    Nigel, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Nigel,

    We know all about the jibble list, but he won't reply to email asking where it's from and it's only the first bit of the postcode.

  • What about Google Maps? it can be extended and can provide you a location of the whole post code.

    Nick Adams, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Hello Nick,

    Because that data is copyrighted and owned by the postoffice, and Google just license it. We would have to pay to use more than a few postcodes, which is the whole point of collecting our own database.
  • Royal Mail Revenue Protection claim that building a list of postcodes in this manner still infringes their database rights. Apparently, the postcodes themselves are copyrighted, never mind the coordinates :-/
    Paul, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Yes. UK Postcodes are not public domain.

    It would be nice if postcodes were free like in the US, but bootlegging them does not make them free. It just avoids paying for their use.

    In the US, it was agreed at some point that non-sensitive data produced by Government agencies would be available to all US citizens. Further, because that is difficult to police, data is available to the entire world. This is why things like the CIA Factbook and the NASA image library are public domain.

    The UK is not the US.

    A more worthwhile way of achieving the stated goal would be to establish a database of public venues and their Long & Lat positions. Indeed, many open-air venues don't actually have a postcode anyway.

    Alternatively, you could try and lobby the Government to make Royal Mail postcodes - and the entire complex system - public domain.
  • The whole thing stinks, the post code database was built by the Royal Mail using money from the public purse, therefore we own it and cannot use it. The U.S. is run for the people the U.K. is run to spite the people
    Barney, 14 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Strange how postal codes aren't free. I never would have thought you could copyright such things
  • I think we should lobby to free the UK postcode. Seeing as the postcode was established using public funds, it should be public domain. The only reason they aren't free is because The Post Office know they can sell the data for silly sums of money. Not only do they make you pay for the data and a licence, they charge you every time they make a change to the database.

    I can't see how the Royal Mail Revenue Protection can claim that the postcodes themselves are copyrighted, there are an infinite number of lists created daily which contain postcodes. Any website that captures someone's address would therefore be infringing copyright.

    Ripoff Britain.. thank you Mr Government for being so bad at your job.
    AJ, 13 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • How about a open source system a sort of GNU public domain system compiled collectively by all those who want an open, freely available, alternative to the postcode system. I would have thought that there was enough interest in postal systems, GPS etc around for something to get started.
    Alan, 13 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • This is all a bit silly.

    A postcode is not a point location anyway, it is an area and unless you were to plot the coordinates of each of the vertices, the "free" version is unlikely to match the "official" one. Also the mapping that you would want to plot locations on, has to be licensed (ie paid for) as well (by somebody even if its not you).

    Google and Multimap (who presumably pay a good deal of money to UK Plc for the privilege) already provide facilities for you to plot postcode locations on maps.

    The real beneficiaries of making the postcode data "public domain" would be commercial organisations who can well afford to pay for it - and the losers would be ordinary taxpayers because creating and maintaining a database like this costs money.

    Perhaps while you are collecting your data (which doesn't seem to be coming on that well by the way) you could knock on all the doors and ask who lives there. Then we would be able to create an alternative census and electoral roll as well to save the government all the bother.

    Mark, 13 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Er, There are plenty of charity or civic/poor organisations who use this data such as, er, this website who are paying over the odds for it.

    If you look over here you'll find that people have, er, been plotting the vertices.

    The electoral roll data is public domain anyway.

    Here's to your well thought out anonymous arguments, Kermit.
This pledge is closed for new comments.

Current signatories (Green text = they've done it)

Steve Coast, the Pledge Creator, joined by:

  • Simon Hewison
  • Ben Gimpert
  • David Coast
  • Kev Williams
  • Dan Brickley
  • Libby Miller
  • john
  • Matt Amos
  • Gareth Western
  • Paul Ebbens
  • Frank Hebbert

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