What is Geocoding?
Geocoding is the process of transforming or converting an address of a location such as set of coordinates into spatial data (a location on the earth’s surface). You geocode by entering one location references at a time or by entering many of them at once using a table. As a result the output are geographic features with attributes which will be used for mapping of spatial analysis.
You can quickly discover various forms of locations through geocoding. The types of locations you can look for, encompass points of interest or names from a gazetteer, such as bridges, and shops; coordinates based on latitude and longitude or different reference systems, such as the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) or the United States National Grid System; and addresses, that can come in different styles and formats, which include street intersections, house numbers with avenue names, and postal codes.
What geocoding is used for?
Geocoding is used for a wide range of applications from simple data analysis to, customer management system to distribution techniques. Geocoded addresses can spatially display the address locations and recognize patterns within the information. This can be done by simply viewing the information or using some of analysis tools available with ArcGIS. You can also display your address details primarily based on certain perimeters.
Geocoded locations also are useful in cartography, decision makings, transaction mash-up or it is injected into larger business processes. Geocoding is used on the web services like routing and local search. Geocoding, in conjunction with GPS provides location data for geotagging media, such as photographs or RSS items.
Customer Management System
Geocoding is considered as a critical part of customer data management system. Almost every single organization keeps and maintains address data for each customer or client. This is typically in tabular format, containing name address, customer address, buying habits including any other facts you have collected. Geocoding allows you to gather your client’s information and provide a map of their locations. Using many types of related applications, you can use this information in many ways, from implementing marketing strategies, population analysis to producing route maps and directions. Geocoded information of your customers can be extremely useful data.
Distributed geocoding applications
You can share geocoding functionality using different methods. These include everything from collecting the address locators and sharing through a compressed file to developing an online application, allowing users to perform geocoding over the Internet.
Data Input and Classification
The input data for geocoding, is in the form of descriptive, textual information (address or building name) which the user wants to convert into spatial data (latitude and longitude) so that it can be plotted on the map.
Input data is categorized into two groups: relative input data and absolute input data.
Relative Input Data
Relative input data are the textual descriptions of a location which, alone, cannot produce a spatial representation of that location. Such data produces relative geocode which is dependent and geographically relative of other reference locations. As an example, address-interpolation using areal units or line vectors is a relative geocode. “Across the street from the Empire State Building” is an example of a relative input data. The location being sought cannot be specified without identifying the Empire State Building. Geocoding platforms often do not support such relative locations, but progresses and improvements are being made to resolve this issue.
Absolute Input Data
Absolute input data are the textual descriptions of a location which, solely, can output a spatial representation of that location. This data type produces an absolute known location independently of other locations. For example, USPS ZIP codes; USPS ZIP+4 codes; complete and partial postal addresses; USPS PO boxes; rural routes; cities; counties; intersections; and named places can all be referenced in a data source absolutely.
When lots of variability exists in the way addresses can be represented, such as too much input data or too little input data, geocoders use address normalization and standardization in order to resolve this issue.
A short introduction to the address locator
The address locator is the main element in the geocoding process. An address locator is primarily created based on a specific address locator style. Once created, an address locator includes a set of geocoding properties and parameters, plus a snapshot of the address attributes in the reference data and the queries for performing a geocoding search. The address locator also contains a set of address parsing and matching rules that manages the geocoding engine to perform address matching and standardization.
What an address locator does?
Consider the address locator as a street guide or a map book that you look up an address in it; it takes you to the page and pinpoints the location of the address. The geocoding engine converts the input address into pieces when you enter an address you want to find, such as number, street name, and type of street, based on the parsing rules which is defined in the address locator. These pieces are defined as address elements. The geocoding engine may generate various interpretations of the same address, as some values in the input address can be considered in more than one element. For example, the word park can either be a street name and a street type. Every combination of the address parts will be searched in the address locator. The aim is to find and discover all the possible matching candidates. When the possible candidates are identified, each single variable in the candidate is compared with each corresponding address element. A score is generated indicating how excellent the address is matched. Eventually, the address locator presents the best fits and matches in accordance with the score and the location of the address being matched.
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