Refinements to Location Standards: Geocoding

Melissa Team | Data Quality, Geocoding | , , ,

By David Loshin

People mistakenly confuse the term “location” to mean the same thing as
“address,” but an address is a little bit of a confusing idea when you think
about it. For example, when we use an address, it can take on different meanings
in different contexts.

From a delivery perspective, it could refer to a mail box, or might refer to the
front door. From a taxation perspective, it might refer to a land plot. In other
contexts it might refer to the street edge of a driveway or the center of a
rooftop. Essentially, each of these instances may be different locations that
share the use of an address.

In fact there are many locations that do not map directly to an address. For
example, a telephone pole, a storm drain, the edges of a runway, and a point
along the shoulder of a highway are all examples of locations that do not have
addresses. So how do we find them?

The answer is to use a geocode: a set of geographic coordinates including a
latitude and a longitude value. Geocodes specified with enough precision provide
a very good way to pinpoint a location.

And with the growing use of handheld global positioning satellite (GPS) devices
(or GPS-enabled devices such as most newer mobile phones), a geocode is
practically as good as an address for the purposes of delivery. In my next post,
I’ll look at linking addresses and geocodes, and where that all fits within the
concept of address standards.