Delivery Zones - Small Area Labelling Principles

Posted by Pat Donnelly | Mar 01, 2016

We've been reviewing the initial feedback on our Small Area labelling proposals that we outlined in our recent blog Big Benefit of Small Areas . The following Small Area Labelling Principles are proposed:

#1 Urban and rural areas are distinguished 

This is achieved by using a four character code for rural areas (4.5km square) and a six character code for urban areas (450m square).  Alternatively, as explained in #3 below, a consistent six character code that would end in X0 for Rural areas. The X0 part would not be labelled on the map.

#2 Commercial Areas should be recognised

Small areas were designed around residential household populations.  Unfortunately that means that commercial areas are ignored.  If we look at C3K0 in the example image above you would expect that the commercial area in grey would have its own Delivery Zone.  We will split Small Areas and apply six character codes to commercial districts.

#3 Delivery Zones should be contiguous

If we look at D3A0 you can see that it has an area in the south-east and another in the west that are separated by urban areas of Limerick.  Also you can see that D3A1-F1 and D3A1-F2 cross the Shannon. We propose to ensure that non-contiguous areas are not  grouped and have different Delivery Zones.

#4 DED and County Boundaries are respected

In terms of County boundaries there are two options available.  The first option is to include an optional County designator like the Car Registration that can be pre-pended and used by Delivery Companies that require it. For example C3K1 contains addresses from both County Limerick and County Clare.  Using the County identifier would return codes of LK-C3K1 and CE-C3K1 depending on the County.  The alternative method is to ensure that Small Areas in different Counties are not combined if they have the same four character Delivery Zone, which may require six character codes for rural areas, which causes a conflict with principle #1.   A possible resolution would be to label them with a six character Delivery Zone but use the last two digits to define distinct area e.g. X1 or X2. The advantage of this method is it can be extended to zones that cross DED boundaries.  This could be extended even further to have rural Delivery Zones end with X0 by default, thereby indicating a rural Delivery Zone but having a consistent six character code.

#5 Number of Delivery Zones should be minimised

Smaller urban areas of a few six character codes should be amalgamated into one zone, and consideration should be given to dropping the six character designation for urban areas of three or less Small Areas 

#6 Islands ​must have distinguishable Delivery Codes

Islands must have a six character or end with an X9 designation to ensure they have different Delivery Zones to the mainland.

#7 Must be able to print a simple map

The ability to print simple maps allows a local delivery driver to see Delivery Zones clearly and to quickly locate them without having to reference a map index.

#8 Open Source 

The Delivery Zone boundaries and any algorithms will be released as Open Data/Open Source.

Next Steps

We are awaiting feedback from Freight Transport Associaion of Ireland (FTAI) who have presented our proposal to their members for consideration.  Our upcoming free mobile app will incorporate Delivery Zone grouping functionality ​when it is released shortly, and will also display Delivery Zones on Google maps.


Contact Autoaddress for more information

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