Has Pin code lost it’s purpose in 2013 in this digital world at least in urban India? Pin code were primarily used in India for delivering letters/courier and is still very popular in the rural areas though advancement in telecommunications with onset of mobile has reduced its popularity to great extent thus in 2013 , it has little or no relevance.
Most of us would have faced this situation of explaining our residence address to family or friends or cab drivers. It is last mile route that is difficult to find and it takes around 2-3 calls to find the exact location.
In India , we always rely on the passer-by help for finding the address especially in smaller streets for which maps are not that good. During rain or late nights , we hardly find people on the road and finding address becomes difficult.In many instances one need to come out of the house, stand on the road and guide the people who are on the phone in other end.
Even with the advent of GPS and Google maps along with explosion of smartphones at various price ranges , locating and navigating to specific address is not quite easy.Google Maps solves the problem to some extent.One option is to search and save the address by browsing through maps and then navigate easily.
With Google Maps , it’s easier to search common point of interest likes restaurant and other common land marks but not individual house or small establishment etc.
Using Pin code in GPS for navigation
In UK , I was surprised to see how efficiently zip code was being used to locate an address in gps or google maps .To find destination, all one needs is zip code. Upon entering zip code , device shows around 50 listings of door numbers/road names combinations ,within which one of them would most probably be destination address.Choose the required address and we are good to go. No mess in trying to try the street name or location name and getting multiple search results. It’s as simple as that.
Now the same thing cannot be used in India . For one pin code , we may have hundreds of door number or many street names that results in more number of listings and it becomes difficult to choose address properly. Also new street names and address are not updated regularly.
It would be a good idea to read this post about the difficulties faced by start ups in India while trying to bring in GPS solution from the west to India as is.
Extending pin code format
So how do we solve this problem to making sure the last mile connectivity to destination is a breeze ?
How about extending the existing pin code to have two more characters and each unique combinations will have not more than 25 or 50 door numbers .Specifics and detail on what can be the limiting criteria can always be decided.
So instead of a pin code 600073 , it would be 600073AB where AB will point to narrowed area which not more than 50 door numbers/street names combinations
So if the address is Door No.27, Shastri Road,Kamarajapuram, Chennai , upon entering the pin code in gps device or maps , the search listing would display results containing Shastri Road and few more roads with proper door numbers listed properly. It doesn’t matter if destination is individual house or apartment complex or shopping mall, it can be reached quite easily.
There are some complexities that needs to be addressed. Some times the address is too long and it becomes difficult to load in GPS device.These kind of scenarios need to be properly considering during design.
8 digit pincode may be bit long. It could be redundant when all the travelling is happening within the same city? To navigate within same city , first 3 digits of pincode is not needed since they are same.Use the last 3 digits with an extended 2 digits to track the destination.
So instead of 600073AB , it can be as simple as 073AB and for outside city, use the 8 digit full pincode.
Post Offices can help in mapping activities
Reason why using pin codes instead of coming up with totally new system from scratch is that the information is nearly 70% complete and properly mapped.But the remaining mapping can be best done by respective post offices who have good deeper insight into address combinations.This extensive mapping can be a time-consuming complex task but once completed , will be quite useful.
Refreshing address periodically
In India , there are frequent changes to roads and new buildings that tend to come up but they are not properly managed and reflected in all places . To manage this situation , the mapping of new streets or houses can be done during registration/planning or approval phase so that the database can be refreshed and always updated.
So next time to help friend in finding your house , just inform the extended pin code , door and street number , they should be knocking door easily without making any calls.
Let me know what do you think about it the idea!