Επιστροφή

Stop Using Zip Codes for Geospatial Analysis

The last time you used your zip code, you were most likely entering your address into a website to make a purchase, finding a store near your home or office, or filling out some other online form.

You likely found the answer you were looking for and didn’t stop to think further about that five-digit code you’d just typed out.

Zip Code Finder

However, lots of companies, marketers, and data analysts spend hours looking at zip codes. They are deciding how to use data tied to those zip codes to understand trends, run their businesses, and find new ways to reach you, using that same five-digit ZIP code.

Even though there are different place associations that probably mean more to you as an individual, such as a neighborhood, street, or the block you live on, the zip code is, in many organizations, the geographic unit of choice.

It is used to make major decisions for marketing, opening or closing stores, providing services, and making decisions that can have a massive financial impact.

The problem is that zip codes are not a good representation of real human behavior, and when used in data analysis, often mask real, underlying insights, and may ultimately lead to bad outcomes. To understand why this is, we first need to understand a little more about the zip code itself.

The Zip Code: A Brief History

The predecessor to the zip code was the postal zone, which represented a post office department for a specific city. For example:

Mr. John Smith
3256 Epiphenomenal Avenue
Minneapolis 16, Minnesota

“16” represents the postal zone in Minneapolis. But with more and more mail being sent, in 1963 the Postal Service decided to roll out the Zone Improvement Plan, which transformed addresses to look like the following:

Mr. John Smith
3256 Epiphenomenal Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55416

The five-digit code represents a part of the country (5_ _ _ _ ), a sectional center facility ( _ 5 4 _ _ ), and the associate post office or delivery area (_ _ _ 1 6).

The first digit for every zip code for the states in the contiguous United States

By 1967 ZIP codes were made mandatory for bulk mailers and continued to be adopted by almost anyone sending mail in the US. Over time, the ZIP+4 was added to add more granularity to the zip code to denote specific locations, even buildings for postal workers to deliver. The Postal Service even created a character, Mr. Zip, to promote the use of ZIP codes, which was featured on stamps, commercials, and songs.

Προηγούμενο Επόμενο
Σχόλια
Trackback URL:

Δεν υπάρχουν ακόμα σχόλια. Γίνετε ο πρώτος.