Geocoding addresses is an important part of B2B and B2C data enrichment. A geocode represents a location: an address, a geographic feature like a river or mountain, a specific infrastructure such as a cable or freeway or many other physical entities. The location could be anywhere on the planet, and because of that, it will have coordinates.

Geocoding is the process of assigning latitude and longitude coordinates to a precise location. Address geocoding happens when address data is specified with geographic coordinates.

There are different naming conventions for addresses. The UK and USA use city, street and house numbers, whereas Japan uses the block-within-a-block system. But, address components can be imprecise:

  • A main entry point to a university campus or manufacturing complex might not be the delivery location.
  • A street name could change.
  • House numbers might be on an unexpected side of the building.
  • A full address might contain a common, though inaccurate, city name. For example, a business in Los Angeles, California, might use Hollywood as its address.

The coordinates of an address give you an accurate, granular view of a location.

Six reasons why you should geocode addresses

A street address might get you to the door, but without address geocoding, you might not know the most efficient way to get there. An address also doesn’t tell you the building’s elevation or where it is located on a piece of property. Geographic information systems (GIS) use geocoding to analyze geographic locations, which is useful for analysis and mapping. Here are six key benefits of geocoding addresses.

1. Optimize driving routes

Having insight into exact latitude and longitude coordinates helps reduce travel costs and boost efficiencies. GIS mapping systems (e.g., Google Maps) use geographic coordinates to not only pinpoint a location, but also ensure the fastest, most efficient route to an arrival point.

2. Manage customer data and locations

Analyzing geocode addresses will allow you to recognize clusters of customers in a particular area. Knowing where exactly your customers live helps you place advertisements in areas that will get more exposure.

3. Target services

Geocoding results in more precise service offerings. Because they are based on exact coordinates, you can identify patterns and trends. This means you know with certainty where population growth is happening, which is useful for city infrastructure planning or deciding where to locate a new distribution center.

4. Identify a physical address

If address information is missing, reverse geocoding can serve as an address locator, such as a place name or address location. Mobile phones know your geographic coordinates. Reverse geocoding will likely take on greater significance in the future, enabling companies like Amazon to deliver packages to your precise location with one click — no need to type in the address.

5. Recognize patterns

Interpolated data — geocoding services that provide an overview of a city and approximate geographic positions of houses or objects — can inform decision-making for where to locate a new business, expand a service or run a billboard advertisement. You can identify clusters of customers and glean additional context to enhance your marketing efforts.

6. Improve address data quality

Geocoding APIs can compensate for ambiguous addresses — ones that are misspelled or inaccurate. For example, street addresses can change; address coordinates won’t. Geocoding integrates and aligns address information with geographic codes to verify the address.

These six geocoding benefits are available anywhere in the world.

Geocoding for quality data transformation

Geocoding is an important component of data transformation because it improves the overall data quality of your company address fields. Your address data sets, such as CSV files, can be cleaned and integrated with latitude and longitude coordinates for the highest accuracy during data migration.

Batch geocoding can be used within data transformation to validate addresses around the world. Geocoding addresses is a crucial first step to remove duplication, especially when merging multiple sources (e.g., supplier data, customer data, and address geocodes) into a geographical information system.

When global geocode addresses are combined with other business data, you can:

  • Optimize processes
  • Create geographic analyses and market allocations
  • Design an effective advertising strategy
  • Offer the most appropriate services

Other data quality components include data transformation and management, often with cloud-native technology, AI and enterprise-class innovation.

Gartner issues reports that rank vendors based on the completeness of their vision and the ability to execute in a given market. One report ranks vendors by the processes and technologies used for identifying, understanding and correcting data flaws.

Learn who the data quality leaders are in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Solutions report.

Different use cases for geocoding addresses

While the geocoding process is similar for every industry, the application and benefits are unique to each. Here are some ways different industries benefit from geocoding.

Restaurants

Customers can conveniently locate a place to eat, thanks to geocoding. Mobile phone applications use geolocations of both the person and nearby options to offer up dining suggestions.

Public sector

Geocoded census bureau summaries are used to determine future infrastructure, such as schools. The public sector can use geocoding in many ways to improve community services, such as determining eligibility for services and programs, establishing voting precincts and polling locations and even mapping crime.

Healthcare

Healthcare uses geocoding to study the relationship between the environment and public health data — as demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Batch geocoding aids in transmission tracking and delivers near-real-time data on infections. It also informs the locations of testing and vaccine centers. The US Census Bureau also uses geocoding for address information, which helps healthcare personnel pinpoint a disease source.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies use geocoding results to assess whether they should move to a different location, forecast revenues, and improve delivery routes. By improving supply chain visibility, geocoding helps manufacturers control costs linked to suppliers, distributors, inventory and logistics.

Marketing

Geocoding results help inform marketing, advertising and other promotional activities. Knowing where customers and competitors are located helps optimize campaigns to ensure you’re targeting the right audience with a differentiated message that resonates.

Insurance

Insurers use geocoding to accurately assess a client’s exposure based on their location data, so they can better estimate potential losses as well as help customers choose appropriate coverage. For example, geospatial data lets them know whether a person’s home is at risk for flooding from a nearby river. Smart boxes or apps for young drivers can help them ascertain risk. Companies can know whether a person drives where there are a lot of accidents or if they observe speed limits. All this information is useful for providing the correct coverage.

Logistics and delivery services

Address geocoding is useful for routing efficiency and accuracy. Locations often have unclear entrances or receiving points or ambiguous addresses. Many geocoding APIs can compensate for inaccuracies, helping delivery drivers pinpoint the precise delivery location. By adding accurate latitude and longitude data to verified addresses, you can ensure the fastest, most efficient delivery routes. This results in a higher customer satisfaction rate, thanks to on-time deliveries.

Financial services

Geocoding helps financial institutions identify fraud. A geocoder helps them track purchases and quickly identify a purchase that doesn’t align with a consumer’s spending habits.

Engineering and cartography

Geocoding enables land surveyors and engineers to track property boundaries and other significant locations. Cartographers also use this information when designing maps and, with ArcGIS online, designing map apps.

Learn how geocoding contributes to data quality — and your company’s success.

Geocoding addresses contributes to business success

Data enrichment services like address geocoding give global companies a competitive edge. With geocoded address information, global commercial real estate leader JLL can help clients identify leasing and purchase options that best fit their needs.

Location intelligence — local demographics, traffic and drive-time analyses from geospatial resources, proximity to universities and other informative data — allows JLL to be proactive and provide clients with up-to-the-minute real estate information.

TCF Inventory Finance (TCFIF) knows exactly where their customers are located, thanks to geocoding. TCFIF provides inventory finance solutions to manufacturers, distributors and dealers in North America.

Meanwhile, multinational IT company HP uses geocoding addresses to verify customers’ physical addresses, phone numbers and email addresses in addition to getting exact geographic coordinates.

But, you don’t need to be global to benefit from address geocoding. It can also give you a strong competitive advantage in local markets, particularly when combined with cloud-based data management services.

Informatica’s DaaS solution includes address geocoding

Informatica’s data as a service (DaaS) lets you easily integrate multiple data sets into a GIS. Cleaning and enriching geocoding addresses services include:

  • Address validation, correction, standardization and data enrichment
  • Access to global geocoding (more than 200 countries are available)
  • Precision and accuracy up to building-level coordinates
  • GeoIP, phone and reverse geocoding support
  • Address validation and verification services for C++, .NET and Java
  • SOAP and REST-based web services
  • Prebuilt integrations that automate integration, transformation and geocoding
  • Easy data extraction from anywhere — no need for a developer to write a connection from your environment to the service

See why Informatica has been recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Solutions report for 13 years in a row.