[Talk-GB] Import UK postcode data?

Mark Goodge mark at good-stuff.co.uk
Fri Oct 4 20:29:07 UTC 2019

On 04/10/2019 20:28, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> Hi,
> On 10/4/19 20:51, Mark Goodge wrote:
>> The reality is that people expect postcodes to be a functional
>> search term on online mapping, at least in the UK,
> You *are* ware that UK post codes are fully findable on the OSM
> website and any site that runs the Nominatim geocoder? It must have
> been mentioned somewhere in this thread. This means that our web site
> and anything that uses Nominatim for geocoding already knows UK post
> codes without importing them to OSM.

Yes, but OSM is the data, and the data needs to stand alone without 
needing Nominatim as a front-end. It's easy to add postcode search to 
OSM by means of an add-on system. But not every use of OSM data will 
include those add-ons.

>> With an automated import, OSM can be as up to date as the latest
>> release of CPO/ONSPD. And that's a positive selling point for our
>> data.
> The notion that automated imports could set OSM apart from the 
> competition flies in the face of what many of us believe to be OSM's 
> unique value proposition. We don't usually brand ourselves as "the 
> database with the better imports" and we're unlikely to ever be a
> match to the giants on the field of engineering.

Automating a postcode import is trivial. The reason Google is slow to do 
it isn't because it's an engineering challenge, it's simply because they 
don't consider it a priority.

> Richard makes a good point (that if anything, a manual process that 
> allows our human editors with local knowledge - who are what really
> sets us apart - to verify and improve the data would be preferable)
> but also a questionable one (in suggesting that there are 195
> countries in the world having some form of post codes that is also
> available as open data - the number is probably one-digit).
> I would like to applaud Ken for his roll-up-sleeves approach. It 
> shouldn't be too hard to find one house for each of the post codes
> in your local area and add the post code to that, which will
> ultimately make every post code findable without actually having to
> add something as synthetic as a centroid.

There are, typically, between 1,000 and 3,000 new postcodes added every 
month, and postcodes are deleted every month, too. Sometimes, there's a 
mass reorganisation of postcode data which can involve additions and 
deletions of the many tens of thousands in one month. I don't think that 
OSM has anywhere near the number of human editors necessary to keep up 
with that manually.


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