Idea details: Postal Codes

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It is time for Canada Post to release Postal Codes as open data sets under the Open Government Licence. Other jurisdictions have come to learn that access to Postal Code data is essential in creating a more open government.

 

For example, the UK, Norway, Japan, the U.S., and Rwanda all release their geocoded Postal Codes.

http://index.okfn.org/dataset/postcodes/

 

Meanwhile, Canada ranks 40th in the World on this issue. I believe this should be a priority for the next Open Government Action Plan.

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Comments

At least provide a representative coordinate location, in geographic coordinates ( EPSG code 4326), for each Local Delivery Unit. This data will enable provincial and local government applications to allow its citizens to enter a postal code as a proxy for their location. Currently, Canada Post does not allow its postal code data to be used for such purposes.

I completely agree that Canadian Postal Code information should be made fully available and free for commercial use.

I strongly support the government issuing a ministerial directive to Canada Post to make this dataset fully public. There is a great deal of initiatives benefiting the non-profit sector that cannot be developed because of the withholding of this taxpayer-funded dataset from the public.

Postal Code information is vital for many location enabled applications. Please follow other countries that make this data open.

Great idea, Richard :) The Postal Code Database is the most voted dataset on Canada's Suggested Datasets page: http://open.canada.ca/en/suggested-datasets There is a good discussion there on users' needs.

I would also like to draw attention to a petition that was started very recently: https://www.change.org/p/canada-post-president-deepak-chopra-canada-post-needs-to-release-postal-codes-as-open-data

I don't anticipate Canada Post will voluntarily or proactively publish this data, considering it is defending the copyright that it claims in this data: http://geocoder.ca/?sued=1 Canada Post also has no obligation to the Treasury Board Secretariat.

However, according to the Canada Post Corporations Act, Canada Post does have an obligation to the Minister responsible for Canada Post Corporation, the Honourable Judy M. Foote: "the Corporation shall comply with such directives as the Minister may give to it."

To move the conversation forward, and in consideration of Canada Post's financial interests in not releasing this data, I would recommend that the Minister request a report from Canada Post estimating the revenue loss from releasing this data. This report should be made public. Thus informed, the Minister and the public can evaluate whether the social and economic benefits of releasing this data exceed the revenue losses.

In the UK, Nigel Shadbolt describes some social and economic benefits: https://theodi.org/blog/cornerstone-open-data-postcode-address-file I recommend following the links from the post, in particular the submission from the Open Data User Group describing international experiences: https://data.gov.uk/library/open-data-user-group-postcode-ownership-international-examples

To be specific about what data to release, I recommend that Canada Post release its Postal Code Address Data (PCAD). In 2012, Canada Post sent me a quote of $50,600 per year for commercial use of this data. This price tag suppresses use of this data for social and economic benefit.

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