What is Geocoding?

Geocoding, also known as forward geocoding, is the process of converting geographical addresses (like house numbers, zip codes, and street numbers) into geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude). It is used for turning a description of a location into a precise location on a map. In general, it is a geographic coordinate search. It contains a reference dataset and a geocoding algorithm that combines to create numerical data from physical type.  

It is also defined as a computational process of converting different types of geographical data into another form, like a human-readable name. It uses absolute input data. The simplest example of geocoding is map applications like Google Maps that convert physical addresses into geographic coordinates and then display them on a map. It plays an important role in the growth of businesses and organizations.

Types of Geocoding

It is generally categorized as single and batch geocoding. Let’s discuss this in detail,

  • Single Geocoding: When you need to find one address quickly, single geocoding is the best option. It is typically used in GIS and mapping applications like Google Earth to simply search a single address or location without any cost or limit. 
  • Batch Geocoding: On the other hand, batch geocoding is effective while searching for thousands of addresses. Whether you have a few dozen or millions of addresses, it will search relatively quickly and precisely for each address. It has its limits and may not be free. 

How does Geocoding work?

The working of geocoding revolves around two components: reference data and the geocoding algorithm. Beyond that, the process is very simple. Below are some steps generally followed that define its working. 

  • The geocoding process begins with the input data set. It is the single address or list of addresses that you would like to have geocoded. The algorithm takes input and starts processing. 
  • Also, input data can be of two types: relative input data and absolute input data. Absolute input data is precise and will be processed by the algorithm easily. However, relative input data is vague, and the algorithm first needs to convert it into absolute format before starting processing. 
  • This input data is then processed by a geocoding algorithm and as a result, a list of coordinates is generated.

Benefits of Geocoding

Geocoding is useful when it comes to making maps and geographical data more accessible. It goes beyond providing a long list of coordinates to businesses and organizations. It is difficult to keep track of a variety of physical locations for businesses concerned with different locations. It allows businesses to quickly and precisely access various types of locations essential to their business. Below are some benefits of geocoding, 

  • Customer Data Management: Customer data is extremely important and valuable for businesses and organizations. Geocoding allows businesses to develop targeted marketing strategies for specific groups of customers. They can easily analyze the demands of customers based on their geographic location and prepare marketing policies accordingly. 
  • Analyze Address Data: It is used by local government officials to analyze the address data. They can track population growth density in certain areas and utilize this information in several ways, like building new schools or hospitals to account for population growth. 
  • Recognize Geographical Patterns: By geocoding enough addresses within a small geographic area, users begin to understand and recognize different patterns. This helps law enforcement officers to analyze crimes in specific neighborhoods and can assist environmental scientists in studying the changing landscape. 
  • Distributed Geocoding Applications: Many distributed geocoding applications are available that allow users to share their location over different platforms, like mobile, web, etc.  

Use cases of Geocoding

Geocoding is the process of coding addresses with latitude and longitude coordinates. It is used for mapping, which helps people find locations and provides information about those locations. Below are some of its use cases:

  • Accurate Taxation: Organizations and businesses depend on accurate geocoding, as taxes and insurance are calculated based on exact locations with precise actuarial tables. 
  • Research: Researchers use geocoding to monitor the spread of disease in a region and calculate the risk of fire spread and flooding in a given area. Also, law enforcement can use it to inspect the crime in specific areas.
  • Marketing Analytics: Businesses and industries use it to visualize the spatial patterns of customers’ spending habits. Geocoding can map customers’ live locations, target products toward them within specific demographics, and plan deliveries accordingly. It is also known as Geomarketing.       
  • Finding the Exact spot: Organizations must accurately locate their stores and offices to provide precise directions to both customers and suppliers. In particular, health and safety organizations depend on accurate geocoding when responding to a call.

As discussed, geocoding has numerous advantages. It is used by businesses to increase their growth and efficiency. It is crucial for the medical and health sectors too. Many web-based services and applications such as maps, search engines, and weather reports rely on geocoding.  

Explore NextBillion.ai’s Geocoding API