Geocoding

Let’s say we need unique identifiers for map locations. Off hand, you might guess that a normal address makes for a perfect identifier. After all, with geocoding applications, we can easily translate an address to a place on the map. So it would seem like a perfect identifier. However, as I’m sure you have guessed by now, there are lots of use cases for which an address does not make a great identifier of a map location, at least from a database or data mart perspective, or even from an analytical perspective.

Search for 13145 Alpine Ridge RD in Cheyenne, Wyoming, 82009, in any on-line mapping site, like Google or Bing Maps. They will not locate it properly on a map. Google’s Geocoding API returns an accuracy level of ”geometric center.” Bing Maps returns a “PostCode1.” Pitney Bowes returns a “Z1,” which is short hand for a ZIP Code centroid. In other words, the exact location on the map of the address has not yet been digitally captured. Therefore, it is not yet possible to plot it – at least not by a machine.

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