We’ve just added a new free CDXZipStream template, downloadable from our website, which identifies census tract FIPS codes for a list of address locations. CDXZipStream is our Microsoft Excel add-in that performs address, zip code, and geographic analysis, including route optimization, geocoding, zip code radius calculations, and address verification.
A FIPS code is a unique 11-digit code assigned to each census tract by the U.S. Census Bureau, and identifying the FIPS code for a given address allows us to tap into the wealth of demographic information available from surveys such as the ten-year U.S. Census and annual American Community Survey. Since census tracts are on average only about half the size of zip code areas, they provide a much more accurate demographic picture of the population surrounding a given address. For more information about FIPS, please refer to our recent blog post All About FIPS Codes.
To use the template: You will need to install CDXZipStream (MapPoint version or higher), Microsoft MapPoint, and also have access to an internet connection. The template is also compatible with both trial versions of CDXZipStream and MapPoint. Just copy and paste your list of addresses to the template, and press the button “Get FIPS”. CDXZipStream works with Microsoft MapPoint to geocode each address (get its latitude and longitude); this data is then used to pinpoint the specific census tract where each address is located, using an FCC application programming interface. Currently the template is limited to identifying FIPS codes for a maximum of 5000 addresses at a time. If necessary you can run the template more than once if you have more than 5000 addresses to analyze.
Since CDXZipStream looks to match each listed address to a location in MapPoint, the match quality is also evaluated. Match types are:
1. Exact - A unique entry was found in MapPoint for this address.
2. Allow Ambiguous - The first of at least two matching entries was found in MapPoint.
3. Best Match - MapPoint did not find a good match, but here is the best of possible alternatives.
4. Zip Code - MapPoint could not find any matches, the centroid of the zip code is returned from CDXZipStream
Since only match types Exact and Allow Ambiguous represent good matches, FIPS codes are only returned for these types. Address information for other matches should be checked for misspellings, zip code mismatches, or other errors. Consequently the template provides a method for address verification along with FIPS census tract identification.
If you'd like to see the template in action, please refer to the video below:
or our YouTube tutorial Get Census Tract FIPS Codes in Microsoft Excel.