Reducing Eircode licensing costs

Posted by Pat Donnelly | Feb 05, 2017

Eircode provide two products: ECAF and ECAD. ECAF contains addresses and eircodes in a flat file, while ECAD is a database that also contains coordinates, administrative information, geographic address, address aliases, address types and other useful information.   You can think of ECAF as the Standard version and ECAD is the Pro version.  Both products can be licensed by user or by transaction, and pricing information is available at this link on the Eircode website.

The value of each website visitor varies tremendously based on the website function.  In the case of an Insurance website, every quote can justify the cost of address verification to accurately determine the location of the property to be insured.  For an entertainment website that generates its revenue from advertising, the value of each visitor is so low it wouldn't justify a spend on each one.

If the use case only needs an address to be returned, you only need an ECAF license.  That reduces the maximum Eircode license cost for your website from €30,000 a year to €3,000 a year.  That suits websites that only need the address, but what about websites that require the eircode location?  The case I'm going to look at is a simple "find my nearest" function for a website, e.g. allowing a visitor to enter their address and display the nearest fast food, cinema, bank location, etc.  But first let's look at Google Maps Licensing.

Is Google Maps Free?

For internal company use the answer is generally no, but there are cases where Google Maps API can be used for no cost or very little cost.  Google have a Standard License and a Premium license.  To qualify for the Standard License your application/website must be publicly accessible (anyone on the web can access it) and be freely available (you can't charge a subscription to access your application/website with the exception of paid mobile apps that are available on the Play Store).  If your application doesn't meet both these criteria then you must purchase a Premium license, which starts at $10,000 a year.  For more information on Google Maps pricing click here.
If your website/service meets these criteria then you can avail of the Standard License.  The Standard licence allows up to 2,500 free credits per day, and if you need more than that it costs $1 per 2,000 requests up to a maximum of 100,000 requests per day (if you need more than that you need a Premium plan.)

Google Maps and Eircode

Displaying an eircode on a google map is a simple matter of adding it to the /maps/place/ URL as shown below
https://www.google.ie/maps/place/D08XY00

If you want to call their geocoding api to return coordinates you pass the eircode as the address as follows:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=D08XY00,IRELAND

The IRELAND after the eircode at the end of the URL probably isn't needed, but I generally include it just in case it gets confused with another postcode system. The result from Google includes the latitude/longitude of the building as shown below
{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "D08 XY00",
               "short_name" : "D08 XY00",
               "types" : [ "postal_code" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Merchants Quay",
               "short_name" : "Merchants Quay",
               "types" : [ "neighborhood", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Dublin",
               "short_name" : "Dublin",
               "types" : [ "locality", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "County Dublin",
               "short_name" : "County Dublin",
               "types" : [ "administrative_area_level_1", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Ireland",
               "short_name" : "IE",
               "types" : [ "country", "political" ]
            }
         ],
         "formatted_address" : "Merchants Quay, Dublin, Co. Dublin, D08 XY00, Ireland",
         "geometry" : {
            "location" : {
               "lat" : 53.3439126,
               "lng" : -6.2721011
            },
            "location_type" : "APPROXIMATE",
            "viewport" : {
               "northeast" : {
                  "lat" : 53.34526158029149,
                  "lng" : -6.270752119708497
               },
               "southwest" : {
                  "lat" : 53.34256361970849,
                  "lng" : -6.273450080291502
               }
            }
         },
         "place_id" : "ChIJq6MkMSYMZ0gRnYN6rzMjGsI",
         "types" : [ "postal_code" ]
      }
   ],
   "status" : "OK"
}

If you have a form where you ask for an eircode you can easily create something like the following to display the nearest fast food, cinema, bank location, etc.

findnearest

If you're going to do this less than 2,500 times a day on a publicly accessible website then it is completely free, no ECAF/ECAD license is required.  

Next Level of Service

Obviously not everyone can provide their eircode immediately and may need to look it up.  The address entry API within Google Maps provides a basic solution, but isn't optimised for rapid address entry compared to products like Autoaddress.  We can provide an ECAF based solution that allows you to capture accurate address and eircode information without your user having to leave your website.  You simply perform a Google Maps API geocoding lookup with the returned eircode to get a coordinate.  If we've only matched the address to a street/townland/town/etc. then we simply choose one address in that street/townland/town and return its eircode.

Conclusion

The inclusion of eircodes in Google Maps API allows free use of Eircode information on free, publicly accessible websites up to a certain level of usage, with very low incremental costs.  No ECAF/ECAD license is required for these implementations.  For a better user experience or more sophisticated requirements then an ECAF based solution that integrates with Google Maps API provides a cost effective solution for business.

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