ArcNews Online

Spring 2009

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Select from a Variety of Desktop, Server, and Online Options

New Geocoding Solutions Provide Many Options


  • Solutions are built with Esri's core ArcGIS technology.
  • Solutions include desktop, server, online, and stand-alone options.
  • Reference data is available for the United States, Canada, and Europe.

How can insurance companies determine the number of people who might be impacted by living in a river's floodplain? What's the most efficient method to notify shoppers in an area about a new store opening? How do local residents find out about a new government service? How can address lists be maximized for effectiveness? Geocoding can provide answers to all these questions.

  click to enlarge
Shown here are the ArcGIS Online locator service output dialog box and the corresponding result as seen on the ArcGIS Online World Street Map within ArcGIS Desktop.

Geocoding finds and links geographic coordinates to data, such as addresses and postal codes to customer locations, infrastructure, and assets. The process includes searching for the address in the reference data and finding a best match, then returning a latitude-longitude coordinate or point feature on a map. Reference files, input address records, address locators, and software, whether on the desktop, on a server, or online, are required to perform geocoding. Geocoding is used to find the location of customers or assets, then understand the spatial relationships between the location and other geographic data, such as flood zones, school districts, or electoral boundaries.

Esri offers a variety of geocoding options in products built on core ArcGIS technology that include ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Data Appliance, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and the new stand-alone Address Coder software.

Geocoding with ArcGIS Online

The newly released ArcGIS Online World Geocoding service, available for ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server, offers users free geocoding and place-finding capabilities. This standard, free ArcGIS Online service is available to ArcGIS users for internal or external, noncommercial use. It includes street address locators for North America (United States and Canada) and Europe and a place-name locator for the world. The World Geocoding service supports geocoding, reverse geocoding, and limited batch geocoding. A subscription-based version of this service for commercial use is also available and includes the ability to batch geocode blocks of 25,000 addresses per subscription.

The geocoding services available through ArcGIS Online use the most recent commercial street data from Tele Atlas/TomTom, including coverage for North America (United States and Canada) and more than 20 European countries. Web application developers can quickly leverage these services using various ArcGIS APIs, including SOAP, REST, JavaScript, and Silverlight, to support their geocoding needs. For organizations that want to publish their own geocoding services using ArcGIS Server, the ArcGIS Data Appliance offers the same locator services and reference data, along with other 2D and 3D map collections.

Geocoding with ArcGIS Desktop

Part of Esri's core ArcGIS functionality, ArcGIS Desktop provides users with access to specific locators for the United States, Canada, and Europe. Free locator templates are included as well. For more custom applications, users can also buy or build their own locators based on their own reference data or purchase StreetMap Premium, which includes its own locators for North America (United States and Canada) or Europe. StreetMap Premium provides licensing levels for ArcGIS Desktop, as well as ArcGIS Server. Users who don't need the latest available reference data can also leverage the StreetMap North America dataset, containing five-year-old Tele Atlas/TomTom street data, that is included with Esri Data & Maps, which ships with all ArcGIS products.

Address Coder

Address Coder, stand-alone geocoding and data-appending software, is a solution for direct-mail managers, marketers, fundraisers, and others who need to segment and target their U.S. address lists to effectively and efficiently reach customers or other audiences with their messages. Address lists can be segmented by latitude-longitude coordinates, FIPS codes, and demographic data.

Built with ArcGIS Engine and Esri's geocoding locator technology, Address Coder provides the proven address-matching concept that is already part of ArcGIS technology.

Address Coder's step-by-step process enables users to geocode their address records without extensive training. Various geocoding customization options to fit an organization's specific requirements are available. Address Coder can be licensed for a variety of geographic areas, such as the nation, a region, or a single state. Geocoding reference data is stored in locator files and arranged in a cascading manner. If an address cannot be matched at a low level (rooftop or street), it falls back to the next match level (ZIP Code or ZIP+4), and so on, until a match is found.

Two versions of the product are available—Address Coder and Address Coder Premium. The premium version uses the 45-million-record Tele Atlas/TomTom Address Points database to geocode at the rooftop level, followed by the traditional geocoding methods used by the standard version of Address Coder. Optional add-ons of Tapestry Segmentation data are also available and enable users to segment, manage, and target their address lists based on demographics and lifestyles.

Which Geocoding Option Is Best for Organizations?

For organizations that are concerned with keeping address lists private and secure behind a firewall, ArcGIS Desktop, along with either StreetMap Premium, ArcGIS Data Appliance, or Address Coder, is the best option. Hospitals, banks, and insurance companies are among the types of users that must guard the privacy of their records. Organizations that manage large U.S. address lists for marketing and other mailings benefit from the functions in Address Coder. Developers that want to deploy public-facing Web applications or manage small- to medium-sized databases in which address security is not a main concern can take advantage of the ArcGIS Online geocoding services, along with the World Street Map service.

More Information

For more information about ArcGIS Online geocoding services, visit For more information about Address Coder, visit

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