QuestionLast Updated: March 18, 2013
I was interested in using your address correction service, however, on your demo it does not appear to be able to fix even simple mistakes. For example:
5112Burdsall Rd Williamsburg, OH 45176
It does not recognize this as a valid address… even though it is a simple missing space. How can I use your service to fix my broken addresses?
First, we are adding more and more address variations that our system can process with 100% accuracy. Everytime we find a new variation (meaning bad address) we are able to incorporate the associated solution into our process.
The minimum address requirements that we have are one of the following:
Street Address, ZIP Code
Street Address, City and ZIP Code
Street Address, State and ZIP Code
Street Address, City and State
Street Address, City, State, and ZIP Code
Things that seem simple to humans are often much more complex for a computer to determine. Context is the reason for the difficulty. When I see a string of numbers and letters within the context of an address, I immediately try to process it into a format that is comfortable for me. I do this by adding spaces and shifting things around until it fits. Within my brain, I can use many different criteria based on years of experience to do this.
I will compound the address a little more for example purposes. If all the text is run together without any breaks it would look like this:
A person would immediately add the spaces and would probably put them in the right place. I know that 5112 is probably the number and that Burdsall Rd is probably the street. Further, I can see that Williamsburg must be a city in Ohio and there is what looks like a ZIP code on the end. Thus:
5112 Burdsall Rd Williamsburg, OH 45176
I now have an address in a format that I am comfortable with. Granted it took me a little longer than a computer, but it is probably in the correct format.
With a computer, it takes everything literally and is unable to use intuition or guessing. The purpose of address verification is to get an address into a standard format and then verify that it is deliverable. This has to be done WITHOUT the possibility of introducing errors caused by a guess. This would create "false positives" and the US Postal Service CASS-Certification process prohibits us from ever being so aggressive with address correction that we create these false positives.
So, while there are certainly reasonable guesses that can be made about the true meaning of the address, these guesses work flawlessly in some cases and in other cases lead to misdirection of mail. That's a bad thing.
With our example address, you could write a simple script that would look for a number string immediately followed by a letter (uppercase or lowercase) and automatically add a single space in front of it and then run the address through our system to get a standardized result. Basically, it means that a little bit of data cleaning on your end and a quick trip through our service will result in you having a lot more addresses that are deliverable.
Amazing what a simple concept will do!