Geocoding Explained: Why It Matters and How It Works
Jun 18, 2020
6 mins read
The fundamental role of any language, natural or programming, is to convey information. With natural languages, ambiguity can often lead to rich and nuanced meanings. For instance, if you’re impressed with a restaurant’s fare, you could say “the food was great,”“the food was insane,” or even “the restaurant serves killer food.” Humans can easily understand these variations, thanks to our exceptional pattern recognition. But when it comes to communicating with machines, ambiguity can lead to confusion.
This brings us to the concept of geocoding, where the complexity of human language meets the precision required by machines. Geocoding is like turning an address that we can read into a spot on a map. It might sound simple, but it’s crucial to get it right. Mistakes can send you to the wrong place or delay urgent help from reaching someone in need. While doing it yourself may seem tempting, it’s not as easy as it looks.
So, what makes pinpointing an address on a map so challenging? Why is exactness so vital? These questions draw you into an intriguing puzzle of accuracy and error, technology and human insight. Reading on might just provide the clues you need to understand this fascinating interplay between language and location.
Geocoding is the fascinating procedure that transforms written addresses into specific map locations. It’s akin to a secret language that morphs words into digital coordinates, thus unlocking the magic of maps and revolutionizing our ability to navigate and discover places.
Imagine you want to use Google Maps to travel to a new place, but the map has no information about that location or how to get there. You’d be lost and confused, wouldn’t you? That’s why geocoding is so important. It’s what connects the names and descriptions of places to their exact spots on a digital map, so you can find them easily. Without geocoding, navigating would be like trying to find your way without a map or guide.
Geocoding is a vital tool in today’s fast-paced world, crucial to sectors like logistics, transportation, food delivery, and ride-hailing services. It ensures smooth transactions, optimizes routes, and enhances customer experiences. Additionally, geocoding assists in verifying address accuracy, preventing fraudulent activities and improving service efficiency by identifying fake or suspicious addresses.
An address is a collection of specific points: a house, a street, a locality, a city, and a postal code. The process involves breaking down these components to query a database and retrieve the precise coordinates. The better our understanding of the search criteria, the more accurate our results.
The challenge lies in understanding and decoding the complexities of addresses. Geocoding has two components: the database that maps locations to coordinates, and the process of querying this database when an address needs to be geocoded. Accuracy hinges on the clarity of the query.
Problems arise when addresses are less straightforward. Descriptions like, ‘Take a left from here, behind the ATM,’ may be clear to humans but can confuse a machine. Geocoding requires determining what the sender means and extracting the most relevant information to perform the correct database search.
Address parsing can be more challenging in developing countries than in developed ones due to inconsistencies in address formatting. Nevertheless, once a machine learns to focus on the vital parts of an address and filter out redundancy, its ability to geocode correctly dramatically increases.
Confidence in the geocoder’s response is a related issue. The more concise the query, the more binary the confidence metrics. However, with many variables, confidence in the metric can fluctuate, making it difficult to set an accurate geocoding threshold.
Locus Magic: Three Steps to Optimization
Locus has a unique strategy that transforms the complex world of address management into a simplified, streamlined, and efficient process:
1. Batch Data Upload:
This feature enables you to upload thousands of customer addresses simultaneously. It can be accomplished either directly (using CSV, XLS, TSK files) or through API integration with CRM, OMS, or TMS systems.
2. Superior Geocoding Engine:
Our Geocoding Engine utilizes Machine Learning for automatic address cleansing. It verifies addresses using millions of data points stored in Locus’ proprietary databases and goes a step further by assigning a confidence score. It can determine address confidence within distances of 200, 300, and 500 meters.
3. Comprehensive Address Management Toolkit:
Our toolkit offers instantaneous conversion of addresses to geocodes, role-based access management, and a metrics dashboard. It supports multiple output formats and is API integration-ready for enhanced flexibility and efficiency.
Locus geocoder will help you to:
1. Reduce Last-Mile Misrouting:
Minimize the likelihood of misrouting with Locus-powered precise geo-coordinates that bolster the efficiency of your last-mile delivery routing.
2. Enhance SLA Compliance:
With accurate geo-coordinates, generate precise route plans and discover exact locations. This accuracy improves the success rate of first-attempt deliveries and adherence to specified time windows.
3. Plan Routes You Can Trust:
Make use of verified on-ground address data for dependable zone-based planning. The precision of our geo-coordinates can aid businesses in making informed decisions about new hubs, budget allocation, and resource utilization.
4. Directly Impact Revenue:
By reducing operational costs and ensuring on-time deliveries through reliable zone-based planning, you can increase customer satisfaction, positively affecting your bottom line.
The Value of Geocoding in Modern Times
As accuracy improves, the chances of errors decrease, reducing the physical and business costs of misdirection. In a world where random locations carry a price, a proficient geocoder is invaluable, ensuring that operations, especially business fleets, are safer.
The path to decoding an address might seem overwhelming initially, but we can draw insights from how humans navigate unfamiliar localities. Over time, familiarity with a place simplifies finding specific locations. Similarly, geocoders learn from their past mistakes, improving both accuracy and speed.
However, geocoding accuracy isn’t only about address parsing; it’s also about how quickly the queried location databases are updated. While the position of a city might remain unchanged over decades, its topography could alter drastically within a year. Regular updates based on local context significantly enhance a geocoder’s performance.
Also read: Zone-based routing is the need of the hour
At Locus, we understand that no geocoder can achieve perfection, but that doesn’t stop us from striving for the best. Our geocoder is designed to capture the human essence of address writing and deciphering, rather than simply calculating exact locations. In this endeavor, we are undoubtedly succeeding.
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Geocoding Explained: Why It Matters and How It Works
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