IT is encouraging to observe that postcodes are finally coming to Saint Lucia, a country where some of the streets have no names, and many houses have no numbers. A well-designed system of postcodes can effectively solve the problem of addressing locations. Beyond the typical assignment of a location to which mail may be delivered, postcodes offer several additional benefits. Some of these benefits are: economic, social, statistical, and logistical.
Economically, the availability of postcodes may encourage the provision of enhanced delivery services. When you purchase an item online, that order may now be reliably delivered directly to your door. The Inland Revenue department may also appreciate a postcode that allows easy reference for the administration of property tax.
Socially, it allows communities to partially overcome the issue with streets having no names. As we approach the year 2016, we should be intolerant of address descriptions such as: the blue house, across the road from the yellow house. To a distressed citizen who has phoned the Police, a reliable way to convey an address would be very helpful. Electoral boundary changes could also be reviewed by checking the affected postcodes.
Statistically, postcodes could equip the department of statistics with a method of targeting individual homes, which may be useful for taking samples. Likewise, the enumerators who occasionally visit our communities may have an easier time locating their targeted homes. Health statistics could potentially be tracked at the postcode level.
Logistically, opportunities arise when interacting with other social and business partners. LUCELEC uses a pole reference number to help locate an address for trouble fault reporting. WASCO, LIME and others undoubtedly need a similar system to locate homes to be visited. The unfortunate reality of climate change suggests that agencies including the Red Cross and NEMO would also be interested in locating homes within affected communities for their disaster relief efforts.
Even tourists would benefit if brochures and road signs were labelled with a postcode to orient visitors as they explored the country. Because postcodes are unlikely to be changed once they are issued, it is important that they are well-designed and coordinated.
If the proposed postcodes do not provide these benefits, then whatever utility we derive from them, they would still fall short of solving the bigger problem.
—To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.