Unloading on Geocoding

Geocoding, like many of the concepts that we study in GIScience, is very dependant on the purpose of the process. The act of geocoding is often confused with address matching, which is sometimes correct, however it can also be georeferencing any geographic object and not just postal codes. This implies that the perception of geocoding will affect the ways that we go about doing it.


There are many ways to geocode, as described by Goldberg, Wilson, and Knoblock, and no single one of them is universally correct. Each method uses different algorithms to try to match some identifier to a geographic reference. For example, it might find the length and endpoints of a street and then use a linear interpolation to find the location of a given postal code. The geographical context also bears a great importance in determining which algorithm to use. For example, the method described above may work better in a city with short, rectangular blocks, however it may be less applicable in rural China. These are some of the things that one has to consider when choosing a method of geocoding.


The future of geocoding is perhaps less certain than many of the other GISciences, because as technology and georeferencing becomes more ingrained in our society, the algorithms used to match these objects with a geographic location will become less important. Things like GPS are becoming more and more commonplace in many appliances, however this brings up questions of privacy. Ultimately, the future of geocoding will be a balancing acts of tradeoffs between public acceptance of technology and the development of more powerful and purpose-driven algorithms.


Pointy McPolygon


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