Frequently Asked Questions
An overview of questions relating to a variety of topics.
- What is a geocoder and what is its purpose?
A geocoder allows your application to translate (part of) an address to a point somewhere on earth, described as a latitude and longitude pair.
Once you have this latitude and longitude pair, you can show addresses on a map, calculate distances between points and more.
- When would I need a geocoder?
If your company or application deals with addresses in any form and you want to analyze the data, a geocoder can be of help.
You might want to find which of your store locations is closest for a given customer, find all customers within a certain radius of an event you are organizing, or perform BI analysis that leverages geospatial data.
- What is forward geocoding?
Forward geocoding is the process of translating an address in to a set of latitude and longitude coordinates.
- What is reverse geocoding?
Reverse geocoding is turning a pair of latitude and longitude coordinates into an address.
- Do you provide geocoding for IP addresses?
Yes, definitely. Just send in the IP address and we will attempt to geocode it. Note that not all IP addresses can be geocoded, some IP addresses might for instance be masked by a VPN.
- How accurate is your address geocoding?
Our address geocoder is able to find rooftop data for many addresses in North America. We refresh our database often, to make sure you always have the most relevant data.
In some cases we have to fall back to interpolated data, e.g. where we know house numbers 100 - 104 are placed alongside a road that follows a certain curve, allowing us to still geocode specific house numbers with very reasonable precision.
We also have the ability to fall back to zipcode or city centers. We will always return the accuracy level in our API responses, so you can decide what you want to do with this data. In many cases, it can still be beneficial to know even just the approximate geolocation.
- How accurate is your IP geocoding?
Our IP geocoding solution works with a large database of IP addresses, address ranges and various other meta data. The accuracy of our geocoder will vary per ISP and region,
but it is typically much more precise than just the central location of an ISP. In many cases the returned location will be accurate within a few miles.
- Which coordinate system do you use?
The latitude and longitude coordinates we return are in the EPSG:4326 coordinate system, on the WGS 84 reference ellipsoid. This is compatible with most popular online mapping applications.
- What types of typos can you correct?
Our typo correction algorithms are optimized for incorrect spelling that is introduced either verbally, from difficult to read handwriting or by hitting incorrect keys on QWERTY-based keyboards.
We have extensive experience with address data from retail businesses, where customer address data can be filled out in handwritten forms or entered during a phone conversation by customer support employees.
- What kind of data do you return?
First of all, we return the geolocation, meaning the latitude and longitude. In addition, we can return the time zone, languages, currency code and TLD (e.g. '.ca' for Canadian websites), along with the country code and country name.
For US addresses, we can also return the full zip+4 and congressional district.
- Are API requests rate limited?
Yes, and the rate limit will depend on your subscription. Most subscriptions will have a limit per month, and a limit per second. The free subscription also has a limit per day.
In addition, there is a limit of at most 25 concurrent connections per IP. Please contact us if you would like a custom limit.
- Do you use OpenStreetMap data?
Yes, for certain queries our API may use data from the OpenStreetMap datasets.
Many competitors just host OpenStreetMap data. We have chosen to use our own data sources augmented by OpenStreetMap data where our other sources were lacking and have built a custom geocoding solution on top of that. This allows us to focus more on optimal typo correction and large error reduction.
- What is ZIP+4?
In the US, zipcodes typically consist of 5 digits in the form "12345". The extended zipcode form is "12345-7890", which is called ZIP+4.
When sending mail, use of ZIP+4 is optional, but doing so will reduce the possibility of errors and misdelivery.
- How does phone number geocoding work?
Our phone number geocoding service works by extracting the country code, area code and in some cases carrier registration block from a phone number.
The phone number geocoder is usually accurate to the city or state/province. Unfortunately, some phone numbers are non-geographical and will just be accurate to the country level.
In most cases, the API will also return the currency code, TLD and timezone for a phone number input.
- Which CSV formats do you support?
The CSV Tool supports files with commas, semicolons or tabs as field delimiters. It supports standard Microsoft Excel exports, with double quotes around values and another double quote as escape character.
Alternatively, it supports values with optional double quotes around values and backslashes as escape characters. See 'More options' in the CSV Tool to pick the options that work for you.
If your CSV format is not supported, please contact us and we'll be happy to help.
- What is the maximum size of CSV uploads?
The maximum supported CSV size depends on your subscription. Every line in the CSV file counts as 1 request against your monthly limit. The free plan has an additional restriction of 1500 requests or CSV lines per day.
With the extra large plan, you can upload CSV files with up to 50 million lines. Please contact us if you would like to process even larger files.
- What type of data can I upload in CSV files?
You can define a variety of columns in your uploaded CSV files. For geocoding purposes, you can include columns with address components, phone numbers and IP addresses. You can even include both address components, phone numbers and IP addresses, in which case we'll try to geocode lines with their address data first, using the IP address and phone number as fallbacks.
It's also possible to include columns that are not relevant for geocoding, in case you have an existing CSV file you want to use that happens to contain those columns. Just specify what type of data each column holds in the CSV Tool's column mapper and you're good to go!
- How can I easily deduplicate address data?
In some cases, you might have a database or spreadsheet containing rows with address information and want to find all rows that contain the same address. Unfortunately, address information in different rows could be spelled slightly differently, or contain different fields. Two rows might contain address information for the same address, but one might be defined by street name, house number and zipcode while another could be defined by street name, house number and city.
To assist with this effort, contact Geolake to add Place ID support to your package. For any successfully geocoded address, we will then return a consistent 22-character ID for that particular address. Addresses with typos or different address components will all return the same Place ID, as long as they point to the same actual address.
Once you have a Place ID per row in your database or spreadsheet, you can simply group rows by this ID. All rows with the same Place ID will contain information about the same address.
- Are my API calls to your service safe?
Yes! Our services can only be accessed over SSL, ensuring any and all data transferred to our systems cannot be intercepted.
- Is any of my data stored?
In order to continue to improve our service we may log some request data that is sent to our service.
It might be good to point out that we already have a large database with all known addresses, so address data you may send in is not particularly different from what we already know. We encourage you to never send us Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as names of customers, but to just send address information.
If your application requires no data to be stored at all then please contact us to discuss the possibilities.