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The currency of electronic databases for physical addresses

Posted By Chris Reay, Monday, 27 July 2015

In the days before emails and cell phones it was crucial that one kept one’s physical address and post office address current or one was simply untraceable or able to receive written mail. Landline telephones of course were the obvious and only other mechanism and fax message depended on that facility. It was a norm that if one moved, there was the required attention paid to the physical address, and the telephone book was then invaluable.

It is evident that since the advent of emails, cell phones and now smart phones with multiple messaging options, that keeping physical addresses up to date is really only kept live by the banking systems insisting on having the FICA data but that is normally only updated when the banks call for that.

As long as print is mailed then physical addresses need to be kept current This is an issue that faces the likes of SAIMechE with the magazine, and it suffers from two issues that arise with physical addresses: change that is not notified and the inaccuracy or limited information provided by the Member which results in the item being either returned to sender of dumped at the posted office. Very often outdated or unattended mail boxes are too full to take any more mail. Problems with the efficiency and reliability of the post office itself frequently add to the amount of undelivered mail.

Address databases are renowned to be inaccurate or badly configured. I am at least three separate customers in my bank. Implementing a FICA update for the current account information does not get fed to the other accounts. It would seem that modern configuration management is a foreign practice to most banks as the format for collecting the same data varies across departments, even though the ID number is common.

It is unlikely that physical address accuracy will never be required even with all our advanced electronic communication as some form of hard mail will need to be used. It just seems that the processes for updating the address on a systematic basis is flawed. Updating of mail addresses is invariably left late so that mail continues to go to the previous address. Will GPS via mobile smart phone location ever be able to be a source of this at an accuracy that is dependable? Now that’s an app opportunity.

Let’s look at a specific case. We have about 4000 addresses to which our magazine is sent each month. On average about 5 percent are returned for reasons that the address is incorrect or cannot be located due to paucity of detail.

The best way we can keep up to date with addresses of Members is to request a regular email feedback on the receipt of the Torque newsletter on a prescribed format with the option to tick “no change” to keep it simple.

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