[mySociety:public] [Okfn-en] Help open up the postcode dataset

Mark Goodge mark at good-stuff.co.uk
Wed Feb 6 11:01:23 GMT 2013

On 06/02/2013 10:40, Stefan Magdalinski wrote:
> on the other hand, the Post Office maintains PAF (badly) anyway.

I bought a copy of the part-PAF (that's just the street-level listing, 
rather than individual addresses) once, as part of a project I was 
working on. I didn't intend to use the data it contained directly (as 
that would have been a breach of the licence terms), but I wanted to see 
the data structure and also see if I could reverse engineer it from 
genuinely open data (since it broadly overlaps with the OS Locator 
database, which is OGL).

In fact, it was a huge waste of money, at least for my purposes. The 
data quality is crap, and the structure is inconsistent. So, from my 
limited exposure to it, is the full PAF.

The problem is that it isn't intended to be used for anything other than 
telling a postie (or courier driver) where to take a letter or package. 
The data is inconsistent because it doesn't matter, for those purposes, 
how many lines are in the address and whether the locality is the second 
or third line, or whether the first line is a street address or a unit 
address. It isn't designed to be manipulated en mass as a single data 
source, it's so that someone can drive or walk down a street and find 
the letterbox or door they need to put a package through. In many cases, 
it requires local knowledge to interpret, because it is not intended to 
be meaningful to anyone not actually there on the ground.

So, even if the full PAF was released as open data, I suspect that it 
would be a lot less use than many people imagine.


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