Free UK postcodes database – genius!

February 10, 2009 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

This is such a good idea, it’s a wonder nobody thought of it before….

Mike Butcher at Techcrunch writes about It’s a project to crowdsource GPS-collected lat/long coordinates for UK postcodes, in order to create a free (as in beer, and as in freedom) geocoding service for the masses.

The Royal Mail-owned canonical postcode database is not free in either sense. It costs a fortune, and is strictly licensed. It’s one of the many betes noir which have been in the sights of the ‘Free Our Data‘ movement for ages – along with the much-debated Ordnance Survey map data, which is also being challenged by the Freethepostcode’s excellent sister project Openstreetmap.

Freethepostcode has an iPhone and Android mobile client, which should make submitting coordinates for postcodes that you visit dead easy. As long as you source the coordinates from GPS, the data you submit is free from copyright and can be placed in the public domain. There’s already a simple geocoder service running which translates postcodes to lat/long and vice versa – but of course it’s only as accurate as the underlying data. You can make it better by submitting postcodes yourself.

This project is a great example of a practical way to overcome outdated copyright restrictions around public data. More power to its elbow.


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