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Upmarket Dublin survives postcode shake-up – Sunday Times – Times Online

There is an article in today’s Sunday Times about postcodes. It states that the government is going to retain the Dublin postal zones and use a combination of letters and numbers.

If this is the case, the government has been very badly advised or is not acting on its advice.

The Dublin postal zones are decrepit and useless. They only cover part of Dublin, don’t follow any standard administrative boundaries and meander all over the place. For example, part of Dublin 8 is on the Northside, despite the supposed convention of even numbers being south of the river.

Using the old postal zones will make it practically impossible to join statistical information (which is predominantly collected on the basis of electoral district) as Gerry Brady desires.

It will also mean that that the system of postcodes and ED’s will have to be maintained separately. This will be wasteful and expensive, and will serve no purpose other than to confuse.

Letters are a disaster in a postcode. Few countries have letters in their postcodes (only three come to mind). It is considered extremely bad practice, because letters are easily confused with each other when spoken or written down – N sounds a lot like M; B looks a lot like 8; 5 looks very similar to S when handwritten.

A lot of people believe that postcodes containing both letters and numbers are easier to remember. Yet there is plenty of evidence in the psychological literature that similar looking or similar-sounding characters are prone to cause codes to be misremembered.

Stories about the resistance to postcode change are greatly exaggerated and misstated. The case of Dublin 6W did not arise because of NIMBYism or snobbery alone. Dublin 6 residents didn’t want to be moved to Dublin 26 as was proposed because they rightly feared that this would give people the impression that they lived beyond the M50 (where the other high postcodes are), when they in fact lived well inside it.

I was part of a consortium which pitched for the consultancy work involved. We will probably outline what our suggested scheme would be in the coming months.

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  1. Good point about the telephone numbers, Michael. And most people can even remember a 16 digit credit card number, helped by the conventional grouping into four clumps of four digits.

  2. I was on Newstalk 106 with George Hook talking about this yesterday at 5.30.