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    News — gis

    Latest Postcode Data Releases

    The October release of Postcode data is out now containing lookup and reference files for Postcodes to various other UK geographies in addition to location based data files such as the Postcode to Grid Reference database.

    All data files are processed from official information sources and compiled so that they are ready to use in your chosed database or spreadsheet software.

    To celebrate this release, we are offering a 25% discount to all data purchases before the end of October. Simply choose your required database from the list of available products and enter the following voucher code when checking out: ODU1125

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    Ordnance Survey Points of Interest

    We are pleased to announce the addition of the Ordnance Survey Point of Interest database to our website. This database provides approximately 4,000,000 locations across Great Britain with a highly accurate Ordnance Survey grid reference including:
    1. Accommodation, eating and drinking
    2. Commercial services
    3. Attractions
    4. Sport and entertainment
    5. Education and health
    6. Public infrastructure
    7. Manufacturing and production
    8. Retail
    9. Transport

    The grid references for the majority of the file are accurate to premise level - that is the grid reference falls within the building footprint of the address making it, positionally, the most accurate Point of Interest database available.

    As you would expect, the full file of 4,000,000 records is not cheap at over £75,000 at the time of writing for a five user licence. However, with over 600 individual classifications, it is possible to select just those records you need for your application and just pay for the data you need.

    If you are interested in finding out more about the Point of Interest data then please visit http://www.map-logic.co.uk/digital-maps/points-of-interest-poi.html for more information.

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    Postcode Boundary Data

    Following the release of several geographic databases (royalty free) by Ordnance Survey on the 1st April 2010, we have been reviewing the information to determine whether we can help turn this raw data into useful information for customers to use in GIS and mapping software.

    In addition to improving the grid references (and lowering the price!) of our Postcode grid reference file, we have also used the raw Code-Point grid reference data to build a set of Postcode polygons for Great Britain. These boundaries can be used in a variety of GIS and mapping software such as Mapinfo, Arcview, Maptitude and even Google Earth to view the extent of Postcode Sectors, Districts and Areas across the country.

    The polygons have been created using a variety of techniques based on Voronoi diagrams to create areas around every Postcode in the country which are then aggregated to created the boundaries for each level of Postcode geography. As we only use the Postcodes with the highest positional quality indicators from Ordnance Survey and also exclude PO Boxes, these boundaries are the most accurate boundaries that can be produced using this technique.

    At £300 for a single user and £600 for unlimited company use, we also believe these boundaries offer unbeatable value for money. You can download a specification and a sample of the boundaries directly from our website.

    If you download the sample to play with then we'd love to have your feedback...

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    The MapPoint Review?
    Well, here we are at the end of the week and still no MapPoint review. We failed, but to be fair it has been a frustrating and bewildering process.

    We downloaded a 60 day trial of the software (about 2Gb) and installed it without any problems. A first look at the software proved promising, ease of use, navigation creating a map showing household concentrations was all quite good (not perfect, but good). And then we hit a problem....

    One of the main things we wanted to do to try the software out for business use was to import our own customer data and display it on a map - a function we feel is vital for any business wanting mapping software. And so we imported a customer database of around 7,500 records. MapPoint goes through a process of matching the records to it's own geographic data to give each record a location on the map and this is where the problem occurred.

    After importing 7,500 records (of what we felt was reasonably clean address data), MapPoint said it could not find a unique location for around 1,100 records - about 15% of the file. Address matching is not an exact science and there will always be records that can't be matched but we expected, at most, about 5% so this was a bit of a surprise. After the matching attempt, MapPoint provides a useful process of presenting you with the records that didn't match, one-by-one, so you can select the appropriate address from the list MapPoint presents you with.

    The problem we had was that for the majority of our addresses it couldn't match (granted we didn't do all 1,200) MapPoint presented us with identical addresses to pick from! For example, MapPoint told us it couldn't find a match for:

    "100 Milford Road, Bath, Avon, BA2 5RW"

    and asked us to choose the correct address from the following:

    "100 Milford Road, Bath, Avon, BA2 5"; or
    "100 Milford Road, Bath, Avon, BA2 5"

    We thought maybe MapPoint should realise these are exactly the same but no, instead MapPoint presented us with about 1,200 of these to go through and manually fix.

    After checking our data, using different databases and so on we encountered exactly the same problem time and time again. We went on-line to try and find a solution but with no luck. We tried to find any settings in the software we could play with to try and stop it happening but couldn't find any. Finally, as it is a new product, we thought we should let Microsoft know what we found so they could fix it with a patch new release. We called the help desk who finally told us they aren't offering any telephone support on the product as it is officially still in Beta...despite us saying we didn't need support, we were reviewing their software and were providing product feedback they still could do this over the phone. They directed us to their website to send them the feedback via email.

    So we went to the website and found the area where we can send them a message. To do this we had to put the product id in and, having done so, it then proceeded to tell us that to send them the message was going to cost us £46! We thought this was a little cheeky - charging us £46 so we could tell them about a problem we have found with their software.

    So, as it stands, we have been unable to tell Microsoft what we have found and are not sure when it will be fixed. It is a real shame as first impressions were promising but we feel let down by the import process and also by Microsoft support - any developer should have very easy lines of communication to get valuable product feedback.

    So, the review is shelved for the time being as, in our opinion, the product is simply not fit for purpose at this time. How Microsoft will get to know about this problem and fix it we don't know but we'll keep an eye on it and finish the review when we can.

    In the meantime, have a great Easter

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