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How We Bring You the Best Data – Quality Assurance

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At Maponics, we are driven by one goal – bringing you the best quality boundaries for culturally significant geographic areas (neighborhoods, ZIP Codes, etc.).  At the highest level, this means making sure that each of our products is always accurate and current.

But how do we actually do this?  And why is it important to you?  Below, we’ve outlined the key steps in our quality assurance model.  The importance of each step is illustrated using our neighborhood boundaries product.

Including quality in the design - Before we build a dataset, we spend a significant amount of time “designing it”. This means discovering and capturing the features that will be most useful to our customers. It also means preparing to provide the data in a format that is easy to implement. Close collaboration between the Product Development and Quality Teams ensures that quality measures are developed around each and every proposed database feature, from the ground up.

In order to allow different levels of neighborhood granularity in map displays, Maponics created the neighborhood hierarchy system. The Maponics Quality Team played an integral role, by drawing up the blueprint for a complex validation system. This plan outlined how to verify that neighborhoods were given the proper labels (macro-neighborhood, neighborhood or sub-neighborhood), thus ensuring the hierarchy’s accuracy.

Resource validation and standardization - Once we’ve got the design perfected, we define exactly how we’ll source and create each attribute.  Strict qualification of the multitude of resources going into each feature is key. Consistency and repeatability is also essential.  Both ensure accuracy and uniformity across the entire US, as we use this methodology to build the database.

Maponics Neighborhood Boundaries features authentic neighborhoods. To create this dataset, the Maponics Quality Team validates: resources supplied by local/city municipalities and other local sources, client feedback, and input from real estate agents. This breadth of original source data makes Maponics Neighborhood Boundaries a true representation of how locals view their neighborhood.

Stringent product review – After a dataset has been created, another major initiative is launched.  A whole new team is brought in to “poke holes” in the data.  Some of the things they cross-check (through automated, statistical and visual inspection) are:

    • Boundary/ attribute accuracy – Is each polygon the appropriate shape and size? Have all polygons and features been given the correct name(s)?
    • Topologic/geometric integrity –Are all features located in the correct spot lat/long wise? Are there any boundary overlaps?

Because of our Quality Team’s dedication to boundary accuracy and integrity, we’re able to offer the only commercial-grade neighborhood data with clear, single-line boundaries between neighborhoods. This allows search results to be associated with one distinct neighborhood (not two or more, as seen when neighborhoods overlap). The result: simplified implementation (fewer rules to write on the back end) and clearer/more actionable user search results.

The Quality Assurance steps outlined above are central to everything that Maponics does to bring you the best boundary data. But most importantly, our QA never stops. Each existing Maponics product is updated and expanded every quarter, using these same criteria.  And as a customer, you have the option to receive a quarterly change files, keeping you in the loop.

Finally, the Maponics QA process itself is continually reviewed – we’re always looking for ways to bring you more value!

Jeff Howe, Maponics Quality Manager, has been involved with GIS and GIS-related quality control for almost twenty years.