CycleStreets doesn’t yet have full postcode searching, though we at least take the first half of an entered postcode to get you to the right area, when doing a namefind search. We are currently using the excellent service from the great guys at Cloudmade.
Unless there is a massive surge of donations (!) we simply don’t have the funds to give Royal Mail £5,450, and if we did have such funds, it’s arguable that paying for faster server equipment would be a better priority.
Royal Mail has a monopoly on the UK postcode set at present. And now, in a real McLibel-style shot-in-the-foot exercise, Royal Mail has served a cease-and-desist order on ErnestMarples.com, a supplier of a public postcode API (programming interface) for community groups. (CycleStreets hasn’t been using Ernest Marples, as they had never stated exactly what their data source is, and we want to stay squeaky-clean in case.)
Royal Mail’s treatment of a not-for-profit is quite expectedly attracting a lot of attention from around the blogosphere:
- Ernest Marples Postcodes has been threatened by the Royal Mail
- Who would really benefit if postcode data were free? (The Guardian)
- “a tax on innovation” – says the Open Rights Group
- Some articles in The Register
- and more.
It’s also gaining parliamentary attention: Tom Watson MP has written a great letter to Royal Mail on the issue of postcode database availability following an earlier blog post he made. (NB CycleStreets does not, and will not, have any party-political affiliation.) It will be interesting to see what Royal Mail comes back with.
Postcodes – and indeed other data related to mapping – needs to be out in the Open.