In 2003, Alex Pigot, an internationally-recognised Irish postcode and addressing expert, first wrote about creating a digital postal code based on using geo-coordinates of longitude and latitude.
In late 2006, he and his colleagues founded GO Code Ltd to develop and implement a 21st Century location code for use in Ireland and other territories around the world. This team of experienced executives has a range of skills in postcodes, postal addressing and address databases, mobile technology, marketing and web development.
As an Irish-owned SME - supported by Enterprise Ireland - GO Code planned to tender for the operation of a national postcode system for Ireland if and when the State decided to do so.
The team developed a number of code systems for possible use in Ireland and elsewhere. During 2009-2010, they trialed the final Ireland version with various potential users, developed a website, new branding and formed an agreement with TomTom to trial the code on their satnav devices for a period of time.
"In July 2010, we developed and launched the GO Code app for the iPhone and linked it with other navigation software on mobile platforms. To drive awareness and adoption, we provided it for free. We were the first company to do that and it showed how a location code could be used independently of dedicated satnav devices. The growing shift towards apps being used on mobile and tablet platforms bears that out," said Alex Pigot.
Once the app was complete, the company began to look for suitable partners to tender for contracts in Ireland and elsewhere. After a number of presentations and discussions, the company met with BearingPoint and the two companies agreed to partner on any tender bid for Ireland.
In January 2011, once operational, technical and financial requirements were issued by the Irish government, GO Code approached a number of companies in the IT, management consulting and back-office processing sectors to find another partner to join its grouping.
"There's been some commentary on the financial requirements for the tender in media and political circles. But it was actually very straightforward from our point of view. The financial requirement was that companies that would deliver more than 25% of the cost would need to have a turnover €40m - based on a multiple of the first year's likely cost to the State. GO Code's role was not affected by this, since the estimated cost by the State of code design and its technical web and associated applications would have been below this financial cost threshold. As far as we were concerned, other competitors/suppliers could take the same approach. So our task was to find a partner to meet these financial requirements," said Pigot.
One of the companies approached by GO Code was Capita and a presentation and briefing was made to them about the tender and its requirements. They agreed to join the grouping and participate in the tender bid. The consortium of GO Code, Capita, and BearingPoint responded to the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and was deemed qualified by the State to then submit an initial tender bid in September 2011 and, with AutoAddress joining the consortium subsequently, a final tender bid was submitted in August 2013.
"As part of the initial competitive dialogue tender process, we submitted our GPS-based 7-character design that we had already designed and tested over the previous 3 years. In the final tender phase, the final design criteria were provided including that the first three characters of the code had to identify the post-town for an address - as assigned by An Post. Those three characters had to avoid the use of place names, and also incorporate the codes of the existing Dublin districts. The code could not be longer than ten characters, including any spaces and be consistent and memorable. Each code, on its own, had to identify each postal address, including apartments in multi-unit buildings, and be compatible with An Post's sorting systems" said Pigot.
The design had to prioritise coding postal addresses so that whilst it could also be used for coding other places or points of information, that functionality couldn’t impact negatively on coding postal addresses. And finally it had to be able to accommodate changes in capacity and technology. A new postal address database including the postcodes then had to be created using the GeoDirectory owned by OSI and An Post.
"Those criteria made it very clear that the preferred code design had to be optimised for postal addresses and had to have a 3-character post-town prefix, followed by the smallest number of characters possible that provided sufficient future capacity and would be memorable. So that’s the design we submitted knowing the code design had to be finalised with the Department if we won the tender. And ourselves and Capita still had GO Code’s GPS-based design that could be used for identifying all other places - motor accidents, bus stop shelters, delivery entrances, events, tourism locations, etc." said Alex Pigot.
A couple of months later after the bid was submitted, the news came through.
"We were all at work dealing with clients and projects, when the word came through from our lead bidder on the tender. It was a simple but significant email saying ‘We won’. We printed that out and posted it on the wall. It’s still there," said Alex Pigot.
GO Code is now working on developing its designs for use by a non-for-profit organisation Addressing the Unaddressed to help people living in slums in different parts of India and elsewhere access essential services in health, education and social resources.
Business - Alex Pigot: tel: +353-87-2486 665 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
GO Code Ltd., 8 Maple Avenue, Stillorgan Industrial Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin L6G 56LP, Ireland