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Evaluation of the quality of an online geocoding resource in the context of a large Brazilian city

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Geocoding urban addresses usually requires the use of an underlying address database. Under the influence of the format defined for TIGER files decades ago, most address databases and street geocoding algorithms are organized around street centerlines, associating numbering ranges to thoroughfare segments between two street crossings. While this method has been successfully employed in the USA for a long time, its transposition to other countries may lead to increased errors. This article presents an evaluation of the centerline‐geocoding resources provided by Google Maps, as compared to the point‐geocoding method used in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which we took as a baseline. We generated a textual address for each point object found in the city's point‐based address database, and submitted it to the Google Maps geocoding API. We then compared the resulting coordinates with the ones recorded in Belo Horizonte's GIS. We demonstrate that the centerline segment interpolation method, employed by the online resources following the American practice, has problems that can considerably influence the quality of the geocoding outcome. Completeness and accuracy have been found to be irregular, especially within lower income areas. Such errors in online services can have a significant impact on geocoding efforts related to social applications, such as public health and education, since the online service can be faulty and error‐prone in the most socially demanding areas of the city. In the conclusion, we point out that a volunteered geographic information (VGI) approach can help with the enrichment and enhancement of current geocoding resources, and can possibly lead to their transformation into more reliable point‐based geocoding services.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Ciência da Computação, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais 2: Serviço Federal de Processamento de Dados – SERPRO and Departamento de Ciência da Computação, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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