What is it: a directory of names and addresses of 44 million UK residents.
Applications: credit checking, direct mail, customer response, mail-list management.
GB Accelerator consists of a list of addresses on a CD-ROM and a rather pedestrian search utility, rounded off by a price that?s high enough to give you a nose bleed.
So why would anyone pay #5,000 for information that is freely available from a phone book or electoral register? Well, perhaps you would if you were involved in credit checking, direct mail, customer response or a similar activity. In applications like these, the product could repay its asking price very quickly.
At its most basic, you can use GB Accelerator to find any individual in the UK if you know part of their name or address. For example, if you need to contact a Mr Sebergham from Castleford (or is it Castle Vale? Or Castlereagh?), you enter the surname and the string ?Castle? in the search window. The program responds by displaying the names and addresses of all possible matches.
This can be a boon to anyone who has to clean up mailing lists or correct dubious customer data. If you are planning a mailshot, checking your list against GB Accelerator could drastically reduce the number of returned letters, which in turn means a worthwhile saving of costs.
This product can help save money if you need to take down addresses over the phone. In this case, you simply enter the postcode: the program displays the correct names and addresses of everyone living in the specified neighbourhood. You find the one you want to record and tell the program to paste it into your database.
Used in this way, GB Accelerator saves around 70 per cent of keystrokes compared to conventional data-entry. It also eliminates most of the mistakes people make when transcribing this type of information.
The program obtains its data from the electoral register of the UK. It contains 44 million names and addresses, of which 95 per cent have been verified against the official Postcode Address File (PAF). The program also holds addresses that have no corresponding electoral register entry, mainly because they are business premises.
The program is easy to use. It works through a simple search form, in which you enter the required person?s surname, street, postal town, or any other known part of the address. Even if you know only one word of the address, you can still do a search, but it will be slow and can fail if there are too many matches.
When the search is finished, the results are presented as a collapsible outline. You can then scroll through them, or run a further search on them, to locate the actual address you are looking for.
When you find the address, you click on a button to transfer it to an edit window. This allows you to make changes, such as inserting a title in front of the name. With one more click the data is copied to another application.
The main problem with the program is that it does not run in batch mode. It works efficiently when you enter or check individual addresses, but you cannot give it an entire database and leave it to pull out all the dubious entries. This is a pity, because it robs the product of what would otherwise be its most useful function.
Contact: GB Information Management on 01244 683333
Price: #5,000 for the first user; #1,000 for each additional user; 60 per cent annual maintenance fee
Verdict: despite the lack of batch processing, this is a valuable tool for anyone who deals with large volumes of UK names and addresses. It is easy to use, speeds up data entry and improves accuracy. But, because it is expensive, it is clearly not a program for occasional users.
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