What is Geocoding?

Today’s global economy requires companies to have the ability to spatially visualize their data for analysis. That is, companies must be able to link the data in their database to a location. Typically, the information in a company’s database stores the address of a customer or delivery point of a service, but an address alone will not allow the visualization of the complete dataset.

In order to visualize this data, each address must be assigned a unique spot upon the earth’s surface; by assigning a location, such as longitude and latitude coordinates, each address can be mapped and analyzed. This process is refereed to as geocoding. By geocoding companies can identify areas from which their customers are located, and thus identify the areas to target new customers; or companies making deliveries can identify delivery point and visualize optimal routes of delivery. Geocoding is a complicated task that requires high standards of accuracy using less then perfect data. Address data comes with an inherent degree of uncertainty. There are multiple formats around the world, each varying in style and the amount of information given. One location can have multiple addresses or one address can refer to multiple locations. It is important for companies to ensure that the addresses in their database are as accurate as possible and many government postal systems offer programs which allow companies to test their address files against a national address file.