Loc8 Code: Navigating Ireland with Greater Accuracy

After four years of development Loc8 Code was launched in Ireland in July, 2010. The product was developed as PON Code (position orientated navigation code) by Gary Delaney of GPS Ireland. For two of those four years Garmin provided devices for field testing the technology and later they went on to licence the product from Loc8 Code.

In 2006 Garmin released their first SatNavs in this country with detailed mapping. Up until 2006 there were satnavs for Ireland but they only had main roads on them. Navtech, which is owned by Nokia, had spent five years driving around Ireland making the sort of detailed maps that take advantage of satellite navigation (satnav) capabilities.

At that point in time Ordinance Survey maps didn’t capture road attribute data such as; how many lanes the road has, what surface the road has, what speed limit the road has, whether two roads that cross on a map are actually intersecting, i.e., you can get from one to the other and so on.

A satnav not only looks at a road but all the information associated with a road to make a decision about routing

GPS Ireland specializes in the professional use of GPS products for surveyors and other people in need of accurate mapping tools. Utility companies which made up some of its customer base appreciated the advantages of the satnav systems but were confounded by the addressing system used in Ireland. 40% of the addresses in Ireland are non-unique. None of these addresses can be regarded as a precise location.

Gary explains further, “That prompted us to start investigating how to come up with a solution that was usable. When we started off with this we had no intention of replacing a post code because as a piece of modern technology a post code is a bit of a dead duck.

“A post code identifies a cluster of houses so you can group bits of mail in a bundle with an elastic band, give it to a postman and let the postman find the actual door itself. That was a technology that was invented in the sixties.

“Mail as a business is a diminishing industry. If you are going to invent something you don’t want to do it for diminishing industry. Our aim was to develop technology for couriers, which is the logistics industry, emergency services and utility companies.”

At the outset of the development of the digital address code Gary had to establish clear criteria to ensure the effectiveness of the system.

“It was very important for us that if a scanner was passed across a parcel Loc8code would be picked out from all the other noise that is on there.”

  • Self-checking: The code is self-checking. It started off with seven characters but then an eighth character was added that acts as a check for the other seven.
  • Adjacency: It was decided that it was very important that, for example, W8L is next to W9L. This allows for human interpretation of the code instead of the code being only related to a database. To that end the code starts at the top left of the country with the letter A. The first character is for broad areas. N is for Dublin and W is for Crosshaven and so on.
  • Concatenated Code: This allows for secure social networking. If someone didn’t want to give away their exact location the could by truncating the code reveal only their general area. The first three characters cover a zone of 3.5km. The use of six characters reduces that to around 120m and of course the whole code is pin point accurate.

The code is language and place name independent and does not matter if the community would prefer Irish or English.

An additional advantage for commercial operators is that considerable savings can be had in fuel costs from not having to drive around hunting down unfamiliar addresses. Gary estimates that the savings could be as great as 20% for operators serving rural communities.

The idea of Loc8 Code is that it should be an addition to the present addressing system instead of being a replacement. Gary explains, “ At this moment in time it is elective. People use it because they find it valuable. If it were to become a national system we wouldn’t require people to come to the site and create a code for themselves. We would actually deliver it to them. But that would be a huge cost to us so we are going to hold off on that.”

Loc8 Code can also be used as an app on an iPhone. Point 8 developed under licence by One Touch Solutions can be downloaded from itunes. It can create dynamic codes that you can send to others to enable them to navigate to you which once used can then be disposed of.

Should you ever wish to stop by for a chat or a coffee or send us something nice in the post then the Loc8 Code for Technology Voice is LTD-99-BZ9