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Free postcode data

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The government and Royal Mail have prevaricated for years over how postcode data should be made available. Last year the government promised that it would make the data available by April 2010 at no charge to encourgage e-business initiatives but then backed down on this, apparently because Royal Mail was not prepared to release its postcode dataset for free. As a compromise, a subset of the Ordnance Survey’s CodePoint product has now been released as a free to use dataset.

CodePoint Open is a list of postcodes, geographical co-ordinates of the centre of each postcode area, and the government and health service units associated with each postcode.

Many potential users have complained that this is too little data to be of use. For example, it does not allow the address lookups that most UK based web sites now use. However, it is still potentially very useful data and actually provides data that is missing from most commercially available datasets.

My recent projects have all been health service related and a common issue is trying to identify the relationship between a health service area and the patient’s postal address. The CodePoint Open dataset includes this data making it possible to determine which postcodes occur within a health service unit.

Details of CodePoint Open are here:

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/products/code-point-open/index.html

The dataset is requested from this page:

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/opendatadownload/products.html

Click the ‘download’ checkbox next to the CodePoint Open entry then click ‘Next’. You’ll be asked to provide an email address to which the download instruction are sent.

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Written by Sea Monkey

August 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in Development

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