Addressing: The Good, The Bad, and The Hyperlocal

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Centuries of global events, disasters, rapid urbanization, cultural and historical differences between countries have contributed to a multiplicity of addressing systems across the globe.

 

Today, there are more than 130 different address formats across 245 countries in the world. But what are the functions and benefits of having such a wide variety of addressing systems? Do they help or inhibit global and local economies? Are they fit for the digital economy we are in and its hyperlocal demands?  

The Good: A driver for growth and inclusion

Addressing systems are a very powerful socio-economic tool to any country’s development. From supply chains to transportation systems, every economy depends heavily on maps, addressing, and routing to connect and bring people and goods from A to B.

 

Addresses play a crucial role in both on- and off-location-based services, allow people to be a part of daily economic traffic, and enable access to digital economy services. Furthermore, addresses serve a variety of societal and economic functions, including:

  • proof of living,
  • proof of identity,
  • proof of location, and
  • proof of land ownership.

 

Having a reliable address is also instrumental for enabling inclusion and equality for all residents (urban and rural), and providing access to essential services, like emergency services, securing employment, opening a bank account, and even registering for voting.

The Bad: Inaccurate. Inconsistent. Incomplete.

The importance of providing proper addressing cannot be overstated. Yet, even today, 75% of the world’s surface is poorly addressed, leaving more than half of the world’s population without a reliable address.

 

Despite the variety of addressing standard and formats, the world today is still badly addressed and current solutions are not able to sufficiently cater to the requirements of the rising hyperlocal economy. With differences in length, order, format, and character representation, current addressing systems do not share a unified marking logic.

Moreover:

  • Addressing systems are complex and non-standardized.
  • Mapping and addressing is to date, has been largely focused on urban areas and there is still a huge lack of mapping data when it comes to rural areas, venues, and indoor spaces.
  • Addressing formats vary across countries, localities, and admirative areas.
  • In emerging and developing countries, like Indonesia or India, addressing systems are often descriptive and landmark-based, for instance “the store is across the postal office.”
  • Address data is inconsistent and often doesn’t reflect real-time context.

The Hyperlocal: The holy grail of mapping

The next evolution of maps moves the attention from well-known places to the unknown, unmapped, and underserved regions of the world.

 

Accurate addresses are crucial for the success of any location-based services and hyperlocal delivery models, including location searches, navigation, 30-minute or on-demand food and parcel deliveries, ride-hailing services, etc. Unreliable addressing and inaccurate geocoding are among the most prominent challenges for retailers and e-commerce, mobility companies, and last-mile delivery providers and traditional mapping providers struggle to achieve more than 60-70% geocoding accuracy. This translates to billions yearly in untapped economic opportunities and high-cost operational inefficiency.

 

Alongside this, a new wave of tech innovation, like autonomous vehicles, drones, 5G, IoT, among others, is bringing in a demand for geospatial solutions with a hyperlocal focus and capabilities to capture hyperlocal data and bind it to a specific geolocation in a contextual manner.

 

Micro-location and hyperlocal data are going to be critical, as the future of location-based services and experiences is becoming hyperlocal, hyper-contextual, and hyper-connected. The wide variety and ambiguity in addressing systems render the current one-map-fit-all approach, and off-the-shelf geocoding solutions are insufficient in solving the last-mile accuracy challenges in emerging markets. Geocoding needs to go hyperlocal and continuously learn and train itself as per the addressing standards and trends.

 

At UNL, we transform physical locations into the next digital platform. By digitizing physical locations and creating an infrastructure to interact with them, we solve some of the biggest hyperlocal challenges that traditional mapping hasn’t been able to do so far – starting with addressing, geocoding, dynamic routing, and self-healing maps.

 

For this, we have pixelized the world in a 3D smart grid to digitize physical locations and create an infrastructure to interact with them via unique, verifiable digital addresses – UNL geoIDs. On ground, indoor or up in elevation, UNL geoIDs can address locations with a micro-precision of up to 1x1cm².

 

UNL geocells represent micro-databases that can store hyperlocal data and be enriched with context. Cells are in continuous communication with their neighbors without the need for human intervention, essentially forming a distributed database.  This allows us not only to hyper-locally connect location data to physical places but also establish dynamic semantic relationships between locations, points of interest, and landmarks.

 

Leveraging our proprietary technology, we are building a hyperlocal “living geocoder” designed for continuous improvement, which can train itself with address and location data to derive higher coverage and accuracy on an ongoing basis. Our distinct retrieval process leverages spatial and semantic relationships between address components (e.g. building number, street name, postal code, etc.) to provide accurate and reliable addresses and geocodes, even if the query is incomplete, partly incorrect, or descriptive.

 

Get in touch with our team at hi@unl.global to learn more about UNL Location Services and get a sneak peek at our do-it-yourself Platform.

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