Friday, December 29, 2006

Geocode Postcode

I know what you're thinking, it's been too long since I made any comment about geocoding.

I have been pondering it in stealth mode, but the problem with noodling about with it in the UK is that the database which turns a postcode to a latitude/longitude and back is not free. The Post Office owns it and licenses it to various third parties.

In order to produce my map of the London establishments that we have patronised as we eat our way around the world after work, for example my ugly workround was to search Google maps for the postcode, then double click very nearby, and select "link to this page" to give me a URL that contains the data I need.

It's not really satisfactory, but I 've stumbled today on a service from postcodeanywhere that will return coordinates from postcodes programmatically.

We already have an account with postcode anywhere as we use their service to produce addresses from post codes in Virtual Bumblebee.

Now that Operation Antique (and other associated initiatives) are starting to reveal intriguing patterns as we help return stolen items to victims of burglaries throughout England, often a long way from the area where the police have recovered the property, I am sure that we could produce some interesting geographical analysis if we started geocoding the data.

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