Address Insight for US Addresses – A Deep Dive

Introduction

Our DOTS Address Insight – US API is a composite address-based service that provides insight and intelligence for a given location. The service has three core areas: Address validation to validate the address itself, address geocoding to provide location for mapping, and demographics to give general information about the area. The combinations of these data sets act to provide powerful insight about the location itself. This article provides a deep dive into Address Insight’s capabilities, and how they can benefit many specific use cases.

This service replaces and builds upon an earlier service known as DOTS Address Plus, adding a cleaner interface built on newer technology. By comparison, Address Insight provides access to newer data sets that were not possible to add to the older service, together with better messaging and error handling and a new dynamic interface that allows future features to be added with ease. While we will never change an expected output, this new design makes it much easier to add new content and continue to improve the service.

Address Validation

Address Insight uses our DOTS Address Validation – US service as a core building block, but adds much more to it as well. Address Validation – US provides robust address validation, correction and standardization for almost every valid address in the United States. It uses matching techniques based on sophisticated fuzzy logic to accurately deal with the most challenging of addresses. In addition to the standardized address, the service returns a delivery point indicator that indicates if the address is deliverable, parsed out address fragments and informational results such as barcode digits, carrier route, congress code and county name.

Corrections describe any changes that had to be made to the address during the standardization process. One of the more useful sections is Address Notes. Address Notes have many interesting informational results such as whether the address is a business, a residence, a PO Box or CMRA, a highrise versus a street address, or a military address, as well as whether the address is vacant or returning mail. If the note “AddressFoundByUSPS” combined with a DPV value of 1 shows up, you can be assured that the address is good, deliverable and properly standardized. More detailed information about Address Notes and other outputs can be found in our Developer Guide.

Address Geocoding

Address Insight uses our DOTS Address Geocode – US service as its core building block. Address Geocode – US aggregates multiple datasets and strong fuzzy matching techniques to return the best possible latitude and longitude values for the toughest of addresses. In addition to latitude and longitude, other key informational pieces returned include state FIPS, county FIPS, census tract, and census block. Place Name is a locality name that may be more exact than the city name that USPS knows, such as a suburb or alternative name because USPS tends to simplify the names of areas to streamline the delivery process. Upper and lower legislative chamber codes may help for political needs, tying the location to different districts to help identify which district the resident falls into.

Latitude and longitude are attained through multiple datasets, and most results will be either at the rooftop or property level. However, cascading logic allows us to use all known data points to return the best nearby matches in the event that we do not have the perfect match. All of this is clearly reported with notes signifying the match rate level we were able to find. This allows users to determine which addresses they want to accept under different mapping needs. Border testing also allows us to determine if the location falls outside of a known place, via an “IsUnincorporated” note. Knowing if a location falls inside or outside of a city’s borders may be important for a number of reasons, especially for things like taxes.

Demographics

Address Insight collects demographic and area details from a number of different sources that can provide useful information about the location. Some informational fields include area code, time zone, day light savings, MSA, CBSA, PMSA, and DMA. Sample demographics include the average household value in the ZIP code, the average number of people per household for the ZIP code and the average household incomes for the ZIP code, county and state. Demographics and geocoding can be useful for targeted marketing as well as some government compliance efforts. Some of these can be read about here in the following article, Compliance and Address Insight.

Location Intelligence

The United States Postal Service serves most of the country but its data is not 100% complete. There is a small percentage of locations that are just unknown to the USPS. Beyond the USPS dataset, this service also aggregates many other datasets. They are not all as authoritative as the USPS dataset but can still be a good indication of the validity of the location. The note “AddressFoundInSupplementalData” indicates that we have found the desired address in one or more aggregated datasets. The note “AddressIsGeneralDelivery” means that we know the area is known to be a General Delivery area (mail is delivered to a centralized location and not directly to the house) and also that we know other details such as that the street is known as valid. Unfortunately, in an extremely rare number of cases, some very rural locations may be so remote they reside on unmarked roads, making it nearly impossible to find them. However, these would be unlikely to even have recognizable addresses unless the names were made up.

These are powerful tools in helping users determine the likelihood that an address is good regardless of what is found by USPS. Users can use this information to make smarter risk analysis decisions on when to ship to a location, improve overall delivery rates and identify fraudulent or garbage data. To further help users here, a result called “StatusScore” indicates the likelihood that the location is a good one. Several conditions while looking at the address, geocodes and demographics will cause some variance but a high-quality USPS address will likely come back as 100, a location found in supplemental data will be around 85, a general delivery location would be around 70 and a steep drop-off from there will result as error conditions are found (house range out of bounds, street not found, etc.). Generally as the score dips below 60, the chances of the location being good start to fall dramatically.

Interface

Address Insight – US is built upon a new dynamic interface that allows us to safely add new data fields from time to time. Existing fields and expected values will never change, allowing users to be secure that their interface will remain unaffected by changes. However, this service is primed for new content, especially as interesting new data points become available that can provide additional details about a location. While not currently used, an input field called “TestType” is designed to allow us to interact with clients in the future, potentially building out alternative results or accessing additional datasets outside of the scope of the initial project to allow a custom experience.

Like all of our data validation products, Address Insight – US supports REST, SOAP, GET and POST requests over HTTPS outputting in XML and JSON formats. To learn more about how Address Insight – US can help your business, or obtain support for technical issues, contact us anytime.

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