Address Validation – US improves with GetSecondaryNumbers

DOTS Address Validation – US is a CASS certified service that validates, corrects and standardizes all USPS addresses. It combines the strongest data set for US addresses with unmatched proprietary algorithms to safely process even the toughest of addresses.

The latest iteration of DOTS Address Validation – US includes a new operation called GetSecondaryNumbers, which helps clients get a bit more information about an address when critical missing or incorrect components are present in the validated result. “Secondary” is a term that may not be known to everyone, but it is the term USPS uses to encapsulate all of the designations such as “apartment”, “suite”, “building” and many more. The complete list of accepted secondaries can be found here:

What does GetSecondaryNumbers do?

The primary purpose of GetSecondaryNumbers is as a secondary call for clients dealing with an address that we returned as a DPV code of 3 (A secondary was given but was not a valid one) or 4 (A secondary was not given but was needed to validate the address). The service takes as input: Address, City, State, PostalCode, and Licensekey. Since it is designed to work in conjunction with addresses that are good but missing key secondary information, it is expected that the address is already fairly clean and standardized.

A valid response from a validation operation such as GetBestMatches will return a clean standardized result in the Address1, City, State, Zip fields that has all of the information needed for a successful GetSecondaryNumbers call. GetSecondaryNumbers returns a mostly standardized address back with Address1, City, State and Zip. We say mostly because you cannot have a fully USPS ready standardized address without the 9 digit zip code, which is impossible to know for sure prior to a secondary being assigned.

In addition to the address, a field called “TotalCount” indicates the total number of secondaries we found attached to this address. Finally, a list of possible secondary units is appended with up to 25 entries, which serves as the primary output for this new operation.

What can GetSecondaryNumbers be used for?

Now, let’s look at some use cases for this new operation:

1) It may work best in an interactive setting with users that have put in an incomplete address in a webform or even in data going through to a call center. Upon finding an incorrect result, this operation could be used to interactively suggest alternative results back to the user.

2) In an address capture/autocomplete type feature, this operation could be used to fill in potential secondary options to speed up the selection of an address. This operation could be used to find out more information about the format of potential secondary numbers.

For example, 123 Main St APT 1C2 might not match a record and might even look incorrect. However, if the list returns similarly-formatted results like 1C1,1C3,1B1,1B2, etc. it may be an indication a simple mistake was made. On the flip side, if 123 Main Street APT B is submitted but the results show APT 1, APT 2, APT 3, etc. as being valid, we might consider flagging the result as potentially questionable.

3) TotalCount has some interesting applications potentially as well. Regardless of the 25 result secondary limit, we return the total count of known locations at the address. That could be useful information if you wanted to know how big the area might be or how difficult it might be to make a delivery when the address is known to be incomplete.

Suppose you are a company doing last-mile deliveries for addresses that you do not control, and you need to decide whether to accept or reject a delivery. A TotalCount value such as 130 could indicate a difficult time finding the right address. However, if TotalCount was a low value such as 4, the company might decide to go ahead and attempt the delivery knowing there would not be many options to check.

In addition to these, users may have creative ways to use this new operation that we did not think of. One way it cannot be used is to mine the data in order to build address lists: this is against United States Postal Service policy as well as the contracts we sign with our clients. There should, however, also be lots of other interesting ways it can be used. We hope this article gets you thinking of some good ideas for your own applications. Feel free to sign up for a free Address Validation – US trial key and check out how the new operation works.

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