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I m fed up of being led any place other than the one I want by google navigation so I thought I d try a GPS app that downloads a full uk map.

I tried "Be-On-Road" which has an option to use OSM. But when I try to navigate to a postcode in a major town but 2 show up and there are definitely more than that there ! I can find addresses by searching road names though. I had a similar experience with another gps app (cant remember its name) that used OSM a few years ago, which I then removed as it didnt seem like it was very good if it had lots of postcodes missing.

I ve read a few questions on here and I m getting the impression that OSM uses road names mostly, with some postcodes if people have added them. Is this correct ? And if so, I take it OSM still covers 100% of the uk by road names, if not postcode.

Also, on the previous app I tried a few years back, I specifically remember OSM being a 2GB download, but its only 442mb with Be-On-Road, why would this be ?

asked 21 Mar '14, 20:50

whocares1's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 21 Mar '14, 21:29

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦


Did you tried a lookup of your postcode at itself? Otherwise it might be a problem of that app.

(21 Mar '14, 21:32) iii

OpenStreetMap itself has a tiny fraction of all UK postcodes. There are around 1.8 million postcodes of which around 1.6 million are useful for routing. OpenStreetMap has around 50,000 (not all values are full postcodes). You can read more about why this is the case here:

Searching for named roads is effective, providing the app has an efficient search algorithm (many dont): according to ITO there are 13k roads missing names out of over 800k (~1.5%)

Applications, such as GPS apps, which consume OSM data can add postcodes from one of two Open Government Data sources: CodePoint Open or the ONS Postcodes. ONS Postcode data from Northern Ireland cannot be used in this type of application without a separate license from Land and Property Services (see this for an intro to the license issues). We cannot directly consume this data within OSM because a) we do not have a suitable license to do so (for CodePoint Open), and b) because the data as provided is not valuable in OSM. Data on postcodes can usually only be added to OSM once individual addresses have been surveyed.

The bottom line is that app builders should make use of the relevant Open Data and add that to their apps alongside the OpenStreetMap data (they should not combine it as this would likely violate both the OSM license and the OGD license). Therefore it is best to take this up with the app supplier directly rather than on this forum. Alternatively choose an app with a good search facility for road names. In Northern Ireland you will certainly need the latter.

Nominatim, the OSM search engine, uses exactly the approach I describe of holding postcode data separately from OSM data. But this does allow searches on a postcode.

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answered 21 Mar '14, 21:47

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%

Ok, thanks, it does seem a massive oversight though for Nominatim not to be able to search by postcode, expecially when it does actually hold the data !!

(21 Mar '14, 23:04) whocares1

I'm not sure, but think this is a design decision. It uses the postcode to find objects on OSM near the postcode. If you put a streetname followed by a postcode (as in "Downing Street SW1A 2AA") it usually takes you to the right location.

(23 Mar '14, 11:09) SK53 ♦

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question asked: 21 Mar '14, 20:50

question was seen: 7,319 times

last updated: 23 Mar '14, 11:09

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum