Choosing a geocoder: Putting the x on the map isn’t as easy as it seems.
Looking to convert addresses into geospatial coordinates? There’s an app for that. But if you’re exploring ways to embed Location Intelligence into your analytical or operational applications, you’ll need to dig deeper and demand more from your geocoder. Read on to learn why.
Location, location, location is not just a mantra for real estate buyers. Every business aiming for competitive advantage needs to understand how geography affects their customers, assets, risks and opportunities. If you’re a wireless provider, you’ll want to know how to sell to more homes within your service area. If you’re a property insurer, you’ll want to verify that the proposed asset is not located in a hazard zone. If you’re a home lender, you’ll want to ensure that your loan portfolio is not overexposed to a high-risk market. The list of use cases goes on and on.
A plethora of tools exist that map out competitive landscapes or visualize risk, based on addresses or place names that you enter. To accurately render the maps, these tools need to convert the informal address formats that people generally use into precise geospatial (latitude and longitude) coordinates, a process called geocoding.
Here’s where things get complicated, because although geocoding solutions are pervasive (some are even free of charge), they are especially difficult to assess. If you’re tinkering around in the back office with a small-scale geocoding project, trial and error may not be a problem. If, however, you’ve been tasked with developing Location Intelligence capabilities for your company’s business-critical applications, you’ll need to know at the outset what to look for in a geocoder, and why.
To meet this need, the Location Intelligence experts at Pitney Bowes have come out with a new eBook designed to dispel some geocoding myths and clarify the selection process. Geocoding for Business discusses five key criteria for selecting a geocoder:
- Matching, the interpretation of an input address and matching it to reference data
- Positional accuracy, how close the geocode is to the target addressable location
- Throughput, how many records per unit of time the geocoder can process
- Metadata, the data about the geocoding results, which enables operational automation and insights
- Deployment options, such as operating platforms, on-premises or cloud hosting and integration with existing applications.
This 10-page eBook is a concise, easy read and should serve as a useful first step in compiling your geocoding solution shortlist. It covers issues such as what matters when comparing match rates and the best practices for getting as close to possible to the ground truth for each business need.
Toward the end, the eBook touches on the direction that spatial analysis is heading and the role of various types of metadata in enabling the deeper insights that lead to competitive advantage. Once you realize that behind the point on the map is an entire web of relationships and multiple trails of evidence, you can’t unsee the possibilities.