Geocoding Strategy for your Business or Mobile App

What is Geocoding?

Geocoding is the process of transforming address data into latitude,longitude formatted data. It is a critical building block to creating impressive map visualization experiences on desktop and mobile dashboards.

A “geocoded� location simply refers data that is transformed from addresses to latitude and longitude. Address data in your corporate databases can be address, zip codes, or even just a city name. The process for geocoding one single location is very simple, and can be achieved through one of many free websites. However, what if you have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of addresses in your database or spreadsheet?

Why is this process important to your Application?

1. Performance

Geocoding your data ensures accuracy and fast performance for reporting, dashboards, and analytics that is not possible using your address data.

For example, Google Maps enterprise geocoding occurs at 100 milliseconds in optimal network and application scenario.

100 points = 10-25 seconds to load
1000 points = 1.5 minutes – 4 minutes

If your data is loaded into CMaps Analytics with pre-geocoded data your performance is multiple orders of magnitude faster.

100 points = 0.5-1 seconds
1000 points = 1-3 seconds

2. Ability to access locations using spatial queries

Database vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and Teradata offer spatial indexing and queries allowing you to truly take advantage of geocoded data. For example, if you wanted to know where customers are within 20 miles of your office, you could easily write a spatial query to return the appropriate data. Because latitude and longitude are machine readable formats, these spatial queries can provide insights not possible with traditional report filtering. In the GIS world (Geographic Information Systems) the concept of spatial queries is quite old, but now that database vendors and business analytics vendors mature in their location intelligence offerings this functionality will become prevalent.

3. Potential opportunity to create predictive analytics using location as a constraint

The next logical step from simple spatial queries are more sophisticated predictive analysis using location as a parameter for predicting performance. Only geocoded data can be used for predictive analysis because it once again can be used for more sophisticated spatial algorithms. For example, predictive analytics can dictate what the potential cannibalization can occur by opening a new store within a given number of miles from an existing store.

Batch Geocoding

Batch geocoding is a process for translating thousands or even millions of addresses into latitude points. If you have a database or spreadsheet with addresses, you will require a batch geocoding service to take full advantage of innovative mapping tools.

Traditionally, batch geocoding required expensive GIS software, or geocoding extensions that are integrated into your enterprise data quality infrastructure. While these integrations still serve a critical role for many organizations, the advent of the cloud batch geocoding services have lowered the barrier for introducing batch geocoding to projects. Now departmental reporting projects or enterprise-wide dashboard initiatives can harness the power of geocoded data without additional software, training, or significant expense.

Your Batch Geocoding Options:

1. Add geocoding as part of an ETL or Data Quality initiative

2. Use a batch geocoding service that processes your data so it can be uploaded back to your database

3. Use a third party data hosting service like Google Maps Engine or ArcGIS Cloud

Information gathering before Batch Geocoding

If you are going to utilize a batch geocode solution, you will need to gather a few facts about your data, architecture, and corporate policies for downloading and uploading data.

1. Understand where your data is located in your organization?

If your data is located in a spreadsheet, you likely don’t need anyone’s assistance. However, if your data is stored in a database, you may need to involve your database administrator to:

  • Provide a data extract from your database
  • Create an additional database field for latitude/longitude data.
  • Upload your geocoded data back into your database.

2. How much data needs to be converted?

The data volume is indicative to the total cost for geocoding your data. This is a relatively simple equation: As the number of locations increase, the geocodes also increase. Batch geocodes are priced in bundles of conversions, so knowing your data volume before hand will make pricing the solution simple.

3. How often do you add address data to your database?

If you are regularly adding new data and desire batch geocoding, you may want to look into a real-time geocoding solution after you first geocode the records already in your database.

We are here to help. Contact us and we are more than happy to help plan your geocoding strategy for your app.