Blog > Location Intelligence > Geocoding vs Geo Addressing: What’s the Difference?

Geocoding vs Geo Addressing: What’s the Difference?

Authors Photo Precisely Editor | September 14, 2022

Even in a highly digitized economy, location matters – a lot. In fact, it could very well be argued that location matters more than ever. Location provides the critical context about where we live and work, how we spend our leisure time, where we shop, and more. Geography provides clues about demographics. It enhances our understanding of risk factors such as natural disasters, crime, and traffic safety. It reveals details about home valuations, taxes, public schools, and legal regulations. If you have accurate information about location, you can build context using a varitey of other details, leading to more confident business decisions.

geocoding vs geo addressing

In this respect, location intelligence presents a valuable opportunity for data-driven businesses. The process of unlocking that value starts with geocoding. Geo addressing, which we’ll cover a bit later, combines industry-leading geocoding capabilities with address verification and data enrichment to provide scalable, enterprise-grade location geospatial intelligence capabilities for global organizations.

Geocoding Lays the Foundation

Geocoding is the process of converting a street address to a specific latitude and longitude. In short, geocoding helps businesses to pinpoint the exact location of an address.

There are many business cases that call for high-quality address data. Companies depend upon accurate address data to ensure that parcels and correspondence are delivered to their customers promptly. Locating the nearest service center or fulfillment location, likewise, calls for a clear understanding of where the customer is. Marketers often incorporate geography into their targeting algorithms, defining neighborhoods, cities, or regions toward which to aim specific offers.

Read our Report

Geo addressing: Bringing geocoding, address validation, and data enrichment together

Read our whitepaper and learn more about how Precisely’s geo addressing capabilities can build trust in data for faster, more confident decisions.

The problem is that street addresses are not always permanent and new streets and developments are being created all the time. Street names may change, houses or buildings might be renumbered, or naming variants might emerge that create ambiguity with respect to a street name or municipality. Address information frequently flows in from websites, third-party marketing lists, or other sources in non-standardized formats. This can lead to inconsistencies in the way we understand and interpret address information at scale.

Imagine, for example, that a customer enters their business address on your website as 99 Route 101, unit A. A nearby customer refers to the same road as “Amherst Street.” A high-quality geocoding solution will recognize that “Route 101” and “Amherst Street” refer to the same roadway. The best geocoding solutions will pinpoint the location of those two businesses at the same latitude/longitude with a high degree of accuracy. For many applications, positional precision matters a great deal, so it’s advisable to choose a geocoding product that can accurately match addresses and provide hyper-accurate geographical coordinates, rather than providing “best guess” estimates.

Standardizing and Verifying Address Information

The previous example provides a glimpse into the business problem associated with nonstandard address data, but there are far more challenging examples that occur every day. Incomplete addresses, typographical errors, or deliberate obfuscation can lead to location data that seems undecipherable at first glance.

That is where address cleansing techniques come into play. At Precisely, we have developed sophisticated data quality algorithms that parse, standardize, and verify addresses to ensure a good and accurate match. Our technology uses thousands of rules required to parse and cleanse address data automatically, at scale.

These capabilities are especially well-suited for global companies that must grapple with multiple languages and culturally specific terms. Abbreviations, alternate names, and non-Latin alphabets or characters create further challenges.

Extending the Value of Location with Data Enrichment

Very often, organizations need even more. They can tap into the value of geospatial context by enriching their data with third party datasets.  In doing so, they can draw new insights from the data to help their internal teams enhance customer satisfaction, grow revenue, reduce risk, and improve business decisions.

Our robust, international geo addressing solution stack combines best-in-class address verification and standardization with our Master Location Data reference dataset, providing hyper-accurate, rooftop-level location coordinates. We then add a PreciselyID for operationalizing address data.

The PreciselyID is a unique and persistent identifier attached to each address during our geocoding process. In the same way a DUNs number removes ambiguity about a business’s identity, a unique identifier resolves questions about a location. Beyond a geocode, as a location on a map, many PreciselyIDs can live at the same location, providing information about apartments and suite numbers and units in the same building.

With a single datapoint (instead of multiple fields comprising an address), the PreciselyID provides an accurate reference to an address that enables addresses to become the common element for uniting data across your organization. It serves as the single point of reference for joining one or more datasets, significantly simplifying data interoperability, and eliminating time-consuming spatial processing. You simply match ID to ID to join data from different sources, easily processing records in bulk.

For retailers investigating potential sites for a new store, location intelligence provides detailed information such as parcel size, parking, street visibility, investment history, and more. By enriching existing corporate data with those kinds of location attributes and traffic and mobility data, site selection teams can develop a comprehensive picture of potential retail locations.

For insurance companies, location intelligence reveals factors that impact risk. Wildfire risk, for example, may be impacted by prevailing winds, proximity to combustible vegetation, as well as the distance and composition of nearby structures. Location data provides details about crime rates, building codes and standards, proximity and travel time from the nearest fire station, traffic patterns and accident rates, and more.

For marketers, enriched location data offers a detailed understanding of a population’s demographics, including income levels, education, age, lifestyle preferences, and more. Precisely offers over 9,000 location-based attributes that include weather, crime statistics, property values, traffic, environmental variables, and more. Location context adds deep dimensionality to the information you have about your customers, competitors, and the markets in which you operate.

geocoding vs geo addressing

Geo Addressing Brings It All Together

Precisely’s geo addressing capabilities bring all of these benefits together into a holistic solution that incorporates address verification and standardization, geocoding, and enables location-based data enrichment. Precisely applies advanced algorithms that verify, standardize, and geocode address data to the correct address and location.

Each element of Precisely’s international geo addressing solutions offers industry-leading capabilities. Spectrum Global Geocoding is on-premises and offers some of the highest address matching rates available, extraordinary positional precision and accuracy, and coverage for over 250 countries and territories around the world. Our Geo Addressing SDK and Developer APIs make it possible to embed powerful location-based intelligence into your applications, including Address Autocomplete, for example, or adding powerful contextual information to enhance your downstream analytics with APIs such as Local Tax, Property Info, Neighborhoods, Telecomm Info, and more.

That level of intelligence enables your users to identify untapped market needs and opportunities, both domestically and internationally. It empowers your marketing and product management teams to gain a 360° view of the customer. It supports your operations team in delivering the right products and services to the right customers, as efficiently as possible.

Read our whitepaper Geo addressing: Bringing geocoding, address validation, and data enrichment together to learn more about how Precisely’s geo addressing capabilities can build trust in data for faster, more confident decisions.