By Kim Paxton

How do you respond when someone asks for your address? Do you give them a P.O. Box, city and zip code? Or, do you think of a street name and neighborhood? Some might provide a detailed address, including house number, apartment unit—if appropriate—and even a community name. Of course, it’s all dependent upon the purpose behind the question.

We rely on addressing in multiple everyday situations—mailing, navigation, emergency response and others. Addresses are assigned to single and multifamily homes, apartment buildings, industrial and commercial structures, and government facilities. In some areas, addresses are assigned to identify infrastructure such as communication towers, fire hydrants, utility poles, bridges and boat ramps.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals are challenged with designing a geospatial database model that manages address data. To be successful, the data model must meet the standards of all disciplines and uses. Luckily, there are several address standard working groups that have identified the importance of addressing and have been developing such standards. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has developed Publication 28, Postal Addressing Standards, which defines the formatting of addresses for the processing and delivery of mail. The FGDC (Federal Geographic Data Committee) developed the United States Thoroughfare, Landmark, and Postal Address Data Standard, which defines multiple fields for address data exchange.

In particular, for 9-1-1, consider:

  • The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is working on several standards documents, including the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) United States Civic Location Data Exchange Format (CLDXF) Standard. The CLDXF would define the civic-location data elements that will be used to support NENA-compliant next-generation systems, databases, call routing, call handling, and related processes.
  • The Standard for NG9-1-1 GIS Data Model that defines the database model that will be used to support the NG9-1-1  systems, databases, call routing, call handling, and related processes.
  • NENA also has a workgroup developing a Site/Structure Address Point GIS Data for 9-1-1 document to serve as a guide as to where to place the address point and how many address points are really necessary.