Digital Finds

joseph dot reeves at thehumanjourney dot net

Free Our Postboxes

Sep 15, 2009 by Joseph Reeves

Here's a quick read and a fun bit of mouse clicking for you; the Gaurdian's Free Our Data campaign has blogged about the difficulties Royal Mail have in telling people where their postboxes are. The long and the short of story is that Royal Mail provided some data about where their postboxes are and you can locate these in the real world.

It's a wonderful application of the (spatial) wiki mentality: disparate groups of people contribute to a data source on a topic they know about; individual contributions are small and of interest to a limited number of people, but taken as a whole you produce a rich data set of immense value. Postboxes might not be the most exciting thing in the world, nor may I be able to think of an immediate use for having accurate coordinates of everyone in the UK, but if every person that uses postboxes took two minutes to add the details of their nearest one to the database it would soon be complete. From then you can be sure that it won't be too long at all before someone comes up with an ingenious use for this data.

If we move on from postboxes and start thinking about what else we know the location of and could add to a map you start to see the possibilities of an amazing data source. I'm a massive fan of OpenStreetMap, by the way.

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