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Tuesday’s Term of the Week | Geocoding and Geotagging

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Customers often express confusion around the terms geocoding and geotagging. 

Geocoding is the process by which a location’s information is enriched with things such as geographic coordinates, land parcels, street addresses, zip codes, and more.  Geocoding allows for spatial analysis in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Enterprise Location Intelligence Systems.   Businesses rely on precise location data for key decisions, so accuracy in geocoding is exceptionally important. Inaccuracies can result in heavy financial burdens, from tax penalties to customer loss. A difference of a few feet in the wrong direction can mean millions to an insurance company, for instance.   Additionally, reverse geocoding, as the name suggests, reverses the geocoding process. It converts a physical location to street address information.

Alternatively, Geotagging is the addition of geographical identification metadata to various media items such as photos or videos, websites, and more. As an example, when you take a photograph, upload the photo to Facebook, and attach your location– that’s geotagging. Many that use social media are likely utilizing this technology in some way.  In fact, most don’t realize that quite often the action of automatic geotagging takes place on their smart phones because it is enabled by default.

Geocoding will always be important, but the growing volume and availability of geotagged data combined with precision boundary data and other innovative methods will continue to take data analysis to the next level.