Where is your nearest postbox, and when is the post collected from it? Now you can get open data showing the locations and collection times of over 116,000 postboxes in the UK. You can browse relevant datasets on CKAN at:
The story behind this data reads like an inverted version of The Little Red Hen. Instead of nobody helping out, and nobody eating the bread except the Little Red Hen, numerous people have helped to request, reformat, clean up and add to this data – and now, as its open, anyone can re-use it!
Last year Tom Taylor made a Freedom of Information request using the What Do They Know? service (developed by the good folks at mySociety) resulting in the publication of PDF documents containing information about UK postboxes.
Edward Betts of the Open Library cleaned and re-published this data in Tab Separated Value (TSV) format:
Abi Broom and Peter Chamberlin made further FOI requests using the What Do They Know? service, resulting in the publication of more postbox locations and collection times:
Unfortunately the geographic information provided by the Royal Mail was not very detailed, so Matthew Somerville has developed a service to locate them more accurately:
Help locate unlocated postboxes – the Royal Mail supplied a list of every postbox’s location, but unfortunately, it did not have useful co-ordinates, only postcodes or sub-postcodes and some textual data. So I wrote this site: look up the postboxes near you by entering the first half of your postcode, locate one whose location you know on the map, pick which postbox you’ve located, and submit. The pages also include postbox last collection times, if we know them.
See the uk-locating-postboxes package:
If you live in the UK, you too can help improve the data by confirming the locations of your local postboxes!
Do you know of datasets containing the locations of postboxes in other countries? If so, please let us know by adding them to CKAN, or by leaving a comment below!
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.
3 thoughts on “Where’s my nearest postbox? Open data for UK postbox locations”
I couldn’t seem to find any statement from royal mail saying they allow the use of this data.
The data from a FOIA request is not usually available for re-use in this form.
Can you point me to the license that I seem to have missed?
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