In answers to two Parliamentary Questions (PQ's) from Brendan Griffin TD on 11th July 2023, the Minister for Communications identifies An Post as the organisation to contact if there is a location or address issue with Eircode and states that Satnav systems can misroute even if the Eircode location from An Post is correct.
Effectively, even though the Department of Communications and Capita have been promoting Eircode for use when calling an ambulance since 2015, this is the first time that the potential for misrouting if an Eircode is used is publicly admitted. This is a Public Safety Issue. Neither Capita, who produced the Eircode ambulance advert, nor the Department, which approved that it could be broadcast by RTE as a Public Service Announcement (PSA) and paid for by TV license payers, have never previously publicly admitted that misrouting could occur if an Eircode is used.
This blog has previously explained how misrouting occurs in SatNav systems and we have provided multiple examples of how it has delayed ambulances getting to patients on numerous verifiable occasions. (as well as causing confusion and delays for deliveries of goods and services) We have also shown that this is an issue that was well known to navigation industry experts before Eircode was ever conceived and that the designers of Eircode could and should have taken it into account. Furthermore, we have also shown in our blog posts that in the vast majority of cases simply moving the location of an Eircode by a small amount can solve the problem. However, this is not acknowledged in the answer to the PQ's referenced above and when one of the PQ's identifies An Post as responsible for Eircode location issues, it also directs the blame to An Post as An Post's design rules for Eircode do not permit movement of the related location away (even by a small distance) from that which is recorded in An Post's Geodirectory. By simply removing this rule, many of the misrouting issues identified to date could be immediately resolved. It is because Loc8 Code allows flexibility as to where the destination location is marked, it can resolve Eircode misrouting issues instantly and that is why we recommend it as a solution in our Guide to checking and resolving Eircode misrouting here
It is notable that in his response to the PQ's that the Minister does not highlight that the Eircode Satnav routing issues which he refers to, could also misroute an ambulance and, as a result, there is a need for people to check their codes before relying on them in emergencies. This is in spite of the fact that his Department and Capita, under contract to the Department, with the support of An Post, promotes Eircode for emergency Navigation by the ambulance service through PSA's which have been repeated every year since 2015. Equally the Minister does not mention that even though both Capita and his Department have previously recommended that members of the Public contact Google Maps to ask them to solve the issue, there is never any mention that since the Ambulance Service does not use Google Maps (same for many others), resolving the issue with Google Maps may still leave the same misrouting issue for ambulances. We have also highlighted this in our related blog posts here
Misrouting relating to Eircode use on Satnavs has been known about by those involved with Eircode since at least 2016. (Autoaddress was a subcontractor to Capita for the roll-out of Eircode)
However, those directly responsible, especially Officials in the Department of Communications, have denied misrouting even when raised with them officially. Their denials have been accompanied by misinformation such as the idea that ambulances use Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI - now Tailte Éireann) mapping for Navigation (they use Trimble Maps in the Co-Pilot Navigation system)
It is good, therefore, to finally have the Minister representing the Department of Communications officially admitting that that Eircode related misrouting does actually occur when his Officials & Contractors have previously failed to do that. He should now, therefore, commence a National and highly visible campaign to warn the Public that this may happen when an Eircode is used in calls to the ambulance service and, if the Eircode ambulance advert is to be broadcast as a PSA again, then it should also include that warning. This is a Public Safety Issue so all such warnings should advise the Public to check their codes and we at checkyourcode.ie are more than willing to work with the Department, Capita and An Post to facilitate that checking and help with the quick solutions if an Eircode does suffer from misrouting.
Finally, when the Minister stated in his answer to the PQ that he has "no direct function" relating to the "accuracy of these directions" , this is NOT TRUE :-
The Minister's own Duty of Care to the Public he serves should dictate appropriate action once he has become aware of the related issues. The answer to this PQ confirms that he is now aware of Eircode related misrouting.
You would imagine also that RTE and its new DG, Kevin Bakhurst, would no longer allow a Public Service Announcement be broadcast on its platforms without inherent warnings to the Public, since it is now officially acknowledged that the Minister is aware of related issues?