The Power of 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.

Why is this process important to your business?

Geocoding your data ensures accuracy and fast performance for reporting, dashboards, and analytics that is not possible using your address data. If you are already capturing data from GPS enabled devices, this data is already geocoded. However, many organizations that capture address data from transactional systems like CRM or ERP may not geocode when data entry occurs. This is a trend that is rapidly changing as companies realize the benefit of location intelligence embedded within business apps.

What kind of Geocoding solutions exist?

The process for geocoding one single location is very simple, and can be achieved through a multitude of processes.  For example CMaps Analytics will automatically batch geocode common geographies like postal code, country, state, city. Additionally, automatic address-level geocoding is also included.

However, what if you have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of addresses in your database or spreadsheet?

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 specialized 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.

Information gathering before Batch Geocoding

If you are going to utilize a batch geocode solution from CMaps Analytics, you will need to gather some basic information about your data,  architecture, and corporate policies for downloading and uploading data.

Provide a data extract from your database

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:

  • 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.

Does’t Google Maps Geocode?

Cloud mapping software solutions like Google Maps and Bing Maps provide their own geocoding services that are licensed for use with their technology only. Technical and licensing limitations make Google Maps unsuitable as a batch geocoding service. In addition, real-time geocoding can take a performance toll on your application.

For example, the Google Maps for Business geocoding speed is 100 milliseconds per location. 100 locations will take 10 seconds to render which may be suitable for some end users but 1000 locations forces the application to be unusable. In contrast, the time to render the same 1000 locations pre-geocoded is less than two seconds.

Other practical uses for Geocoding in Location Intelligence

While dashboards, reporting, and business intelligence apps are the most obvious ways to visualize and experience the positive impacts of geocoding, there are other more powerful opportunities for harnessing geocoded data:

1. 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.

2. 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.

Looking to the future

Any time the location of something can be digitally captured, it will be. This geo-tagging of people, assets, and events will change the landscape for how we use location to manage business performance, predict future trends, and isolate problems. Eventually organizations will automatically geocode anything with an address as records are created in the database. For now, organizations will take advantage of the decreasing cost of geocoding solutions thanks to the cloud.

Need More Help?

CMaps Analytics has multiple geocoding options available for use with any mapping solution. Contact us and we can align you with the perfect batch geocode solution to match your project and data size.