There have been some pretty exciting announcements during the last few weeks. Alongside those, we’ve also met with the Royal Mail to have a talk about finding a way forward.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a great meeting with the Royal Mail. They explained in some detail the background to these datasets: how they’re maintained, where the data comes from and where money changes hands. It’s all a bit complicated!
During the meeting, there was an epiphany: one of Royal Mail’s representatives realised that because we were distributing latitudes and longitudes, and not the Eastings and Northings that are present in the Postzon dataset, we were actually distributing derived data, and not Postzon data. The upshot being that a single-user licence might be enough for us to operate with the Royal Mail’s blessing.
This led to a lively discussion about whether or not that’d be workable, what the restrictions would be and how much we’d have to pay for it. We thought about crowdsourcing the money to pay for a licence and going back online with real Postzon data.
But then, there was a development. Since the meeting, the Ordnance Survey announced that they’re going to make some mapping and postcode data free for reuse. Exactly what data will be released and how isn’t yet known — so far the only real commitment I’ve seen is to consult — but I’ve been assured by people involved that the question is of how, not if, this data will be released. I think there’s a genuine willingness to make sure it’s done well.
That, combined with the imminent restructuring of Royal Mail’s licensing system, makes us think that we should hang tight for a while. If the Ordnance Survey releases a comprehensive postcode database, ErnestMarples.com will be mostly redundant (about which we’d be very happy). If not, perhaps we’ll have to think again — in which case, we’d be able to look at Royal Mail’s new licensing regime and see what can be made to work.
So — for now, at least — we’re going to sit back and see how things develop. When the Consultation is announced, we’ll be responding to it. I’d encourage anyone who has an opinion on the issue to reply as well.