Geocoding is a technique to find associated geographic coordinates from other geographic data, such as addresses and zip codes (wiki). For example, given an address “100 Vermont, Los Angeles”, we need to return the latitude/longitude of that address. The problem becomes more complex when we don’t have enough information. For example, we don’t have city name and there might be multiple cities has Vermont street. Having the zip code can clarify this ambiguity. If we know the location of the address, where should we assign the geographic coordinates? the gate or the center of a building?. and so on.
We also have a reverse technique namely reverse geocoding, where we convert a geographic coordinates to an address. This feature is so popular in Google Map, this is when we tap on a map, the system automatically suggest or return a correct address.
Geocoding is so important because it is a fundamental problem, which has a lot of applications in mapping, GIS… Geocoding has catching attentions from both research and industry. ESRI – a GIS company even organizes a conference in this area: http://geocodingconference.com/. I attended this conf one time. There are hundred of researchers attended the conf, they were talking about improving the accuracy of geocoding technology, geocoding applications: crime mapping, surveillance, urban planing,..
We need people work in this area in Vietnam, collecting more location data. Currently, Google Maps and others mapping services don’t have enough location data in Vietnam, which explains why Seri does not work in Vietnam 🙂