[Klug-general] Geeka Masala Tours To Maidstone

Mike mike at csits.net
Fri Nov 7 14:13:51 UTC 2008

On Fri, Nov 07, 2008 at 11:44:38AM +0000, J D Freeman wrote:
> Incidentally one of the KLUGgers (Mike_H!) is quite knowledgable on the
> subject of post codes and freethepostcode, so might be able to advise us
> better.
> J

There's not a lot to add really.  What you say is correct, the
PostOffice, being a pain in the arse, keep this info to themselves.
What's equally annoying is that they keep the postcode address database
to themselves too (the one that converts a postcode into an address,
with all the possible house numbers).

Freethepostcode is a project that grew out of OpenStreetMap and as you
say, involves people standing in a postcode area with a GPS and sending
in their GPS coodinates and postcode.  Naturally this rather tricky as
you don't really know the postcode of the place you're in unless you
live there and finding someone to contribue is each of the 300,000 odd
postcode areas is rather tricky, therefore, there's very little postcode

The only other project I know that has produced this info did so by
writing a web crawler, crawing the web and creating a postcode list and
then converting it using a number of free lookup utilites.  Apparently
it took a good few months, sells for 90 quid and is, naturally, of
questionable legality.

It would be interesting to have a postcode to address database.  I did
think about doing this as a sort of community DB amungst small
businesses but I don't think this would be very popular as any business
big enough to make use of it will probably not find the Post Office
version inaccessable as it's not prohibitivly expensive.

Finally, one project which may help OpenStreetMap is the UK Payphone
Database.  It aims to catalogue UK payphones and it occured to us a
while ago that we could feed payphone location data back to
OpenStreetMap.  It has also just occured to be that, if I remember
correctly, from my youth days of hanging around phone boxes, that they
address inside includes the postcode, in which case we can also feed
them postcode information from the database.

The UK Payphone Database is currently undergoing Alpha testing by the
Bob's Basement guys.  Feel free to have a play with it at:
http://www.bobsbasement.co.uk/~mike/payphone/ you can stick any data in
it that you like as it will get blanked before we start a beta test with
live data.  I'd value peoples feedback.

As a final work, I think OpenStreetMap would be an interesting project
for the group (I admit, I haven't looked into the documentation project)
it does however require a bit of preplanning and learning.  There's a
lot to OpenStreetMapping.  My understanding is that the best way to
gather data is on a bike with GPS and dictaphone.  The basic principle,
as I understand it is:

* Record GPS trace of the area, record street names, etc, and points of
interest (shops, cash points, etc, etc)
* Upload the GPS data and edit it in JOSM (This allowed you to add meta
data to the traces (street names, type, etc)
* Render the data into a map.  This is done using a distributed render
engine called Tiles at Home.  Basically it converts GPS trace data into
pretty pictures.  I'm currently running it on my machine while at work!


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