CDX Zip Code Lookup and Address Correction

We thought it would be a good time to review the product alternatives we have available for Zip Code lookup and Address Correction.  Which product you choose depends on the data you need and also the number of reports/requests you expect to do.

  1. Online Tools - If you would like to sample our data we have free online tools available. For a sample of the items available for each U.S. Zip Code give a try to our web based Zip Code Lookup Tool.  Additional information is available by using our Free Demographic Report by Zip Code  To validate mailing info use our Free Address Correction and Zip Code Lookup app. All of these reports are free but you are limited to one request at a time.
  2. CDXZipStream - CDXZipStream is a Windows based Excel add-in that can produce bulk zip code reports with greater coverage of demographics than the online tools. It can also check for valid mailing locations using Bing or Mappoint but can only supply zip codes, not Zip+4 data.  It is a one-time license purchase and no additional charges are made per request for any reports created with the local US or Canadian database.  For requests using Bing a free API key is available from Microsoft for up to 125,000 requests.  Bing can also provide coverage for countries other than the US and Canada.  A link showing Bing’s international coverage can be found here.
  3. CDXStreamer – If you need validated addresses with Zip+4 data checked against USPS data you would need to use CDXStreamer. The pricing of this service is charged per request. CDXStreamer is faster and more cost effective than other solutions if you need USPS checked data.  It also support a variety of additional information for each Zip+4.  CDXStreamer will only work in Excel for Windows and only support US data.
  4. CDXGeodata – CDXGeodata is a set of web service APIs and apps that work with software platforms including Windows, the Apple Mac and Linux.  It supports many of the feature available in CDXZipStream and CDXStreamer. We’ve designed this product so it can be used by standard business professionals as well as programmers to develop custom desktop or web based applications. Its pricing model is per request, not per user.  This makes it ideal for distributed applications to a large group of people or on non-Windows computers.  
  5. Microsoft Windows Store and Excel apps - CDX Technologies offers a suite of apps that can be downloaded for free in the online Microsoft Store.   Three Windows apps have been released including Postal Address and Zip+4 lookup, Zip Code Report, and Demographic Report  These apps match the applications that are also available on our web site under the “Tools” menu.  We’ve also recently released two spreadsheet applications in the Office store. This includes the Geodata Address Verification add-in and Zip Code Report app. These products are useful when you just have a few reports to create. There is no charge to use these services.

We will also be looking to expand our online offering to support bulk processing of requests.  Any feedback or suggestion of future products is always appreciated.

How to Find the Shortest or Quickest Routes using Excel Templates

We offer two Excel templates, using our software CDXZipStream or web service CDXGeoData, for calculating driving distance or time for a matrix (array) of locations.  A typical application for these templates would be calculating route data for a matrix of customers and stores.  Here is a short tutorial showing how this works with our web service CDXGeoData:

The template shown above automatically calculates driving distance or driving time for all combinations of locations listed. Once the calculations are complete, we can now go one step further and use simple Excel formulas to identify the specific store closest to each customer. In this case the store locations in the tutorial above are listed in row 9, in columns C through I, and customer addresses are listed in column B, starting in row 10.

To the right of the matrix data, enter the following in cell J10 for the first customer address:

=MATCH(MIN(C10:I10),C10:I10,0)+2

This equation identifies the column location of the lowest numerical value in cells C10 through I10, i.e. the shortest driving time for the first customer.  Note that the value “2” is added here since the data starts in the third column C.

To the right of the above equation, in cell K10, enter:

=INDIRECT(ADDRESS(9,J10))

This equation identifies the store address (in row 9) associated with the shortest driving time identified by the previous equation in cell J10.

Now just copy these equations along the rest of the customer list, and the address of the closest store is identified for each customer.

Note: If desired, the equations above can be combined like this into one cell: 

=INDIRECT(ADDRESS(9, MATCH(MIN(C10:I10),C10:I10,0)+2)) 

The CDXZipStream templates and CDXGeoData templates that perform driving distance and time calculations are free downloads from our CDXTech.com, and can be tested using the free CDXZipStream trial version or free CDXGeoData account access.

We also offer a template that calculates closest locations based on straight-line distance between ZIP Codes (for U.S. and Canada).   This offers a less exact analysis but is appropriate for very large sets of data where routing calculations may be prohibitively long.  Here’s a short video showing how the ZIP Code template works with CDXGeoData:

You can use the same equations described above to identify closest locations based on ZIP Code distance.

Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding with CDXGeoData

CDXGeoData is our location-based web service that can be accessed through a REST API when building your own website or app, or through powerful Excel templates that provide data directly to a spreadsheet. These easy-to-use templates employ CDXGeodata to verify address data, retrieve ZIP+4 codes, calculate driving distance and time, and now geocode addresses or reverse geocode points of latitude and longitude.

Particularly with the meteoric rise of mobile commerce, geocoding and reverse geocoding have become essential tools for location-based marketing and analysis. Here are two short tutorials on how to use CDXGeoData templates for geocoding and reverse geocoding:

CDXGeoData templates are particularly convenient in that no Excel add-in installation is required; just enter the CDXGeoData API key associated with your account, and you have full access to functionality.  And once you save the Excel template, the key is saved as well and does not have to be re-entered.  Since geolocation here uses Bing Maps as a data source, a Bing Maps key must be associated with the CDXGeoData account; please refer to our post How to Get a Bing Maps License Key for details.

The templates use Visual Basic for Applications to access CDXGeoData capability.  For the purposes of building your own app for geocoding or reverse geocoding, we also provide example code in C#, JavaScript, and VB.net.  This and other documentation are available through a free CDXGeoData account

CDXGeoData templates can be evaluated with the 1000 free data tokens provided monthly with each account.  These tokens can also be used for testing purposes during app or website development.  Additional tokens are available for use with large geocoding or reverse geocoding applications; please refer to CDXGeoData pricing for more information.

 

Straight-Line Distance as an Estimate for Driving Routes

CDXZipStream and CDXGeoData provide options for calculating either the straight-line ("as the crow flies") distance or driving (road) distance between locations. When selecting the distance function that best meets the need of an application, calculation time is also a factor; driving distance calculations are much more complex and take significantly longer, and may not be practical for very large data sets. Is straight-line distance a reasonable alternative? We know that straight-line distance always underestimates the actual length of a route (with the exception of routes along a perfectly straight road), but by how much?

To find out we performed an analysis using the functions in CDXGeoData. These functions are CDXGeoDistance for calculating straight-line distance, and CDXGeoRoute, which calculates travel distance and time using Bing Maps as the routing data source. We developed data sets where travel was within large regions in the contiguous U.S., as well as within specific counties. For each county, the start point for each route was at a single ZIP Code and the end point covered every other ZIP Code in the county. Here are the results:

Average straight-line underestimation is surprisingly consistent within regional and county areas, ranging about 11 to 18% and 18 to 23% less than the shortest route calculation, respectively.

Underestimation of route distance is greater when compared to the quickest route calculation, along with more standard deviation as well. Straight-line distance versus quickest route is a bit of an apple-to-oranges comparison, but is included here since quickest is usually the preferred travel route. For U.S. regions, straight-line distance versus quickest route is about 15 to 25% less, and excluding Los Angeles County (a probable outlier), county area straight-line distance compared to quickest route ranges about 26 to 30% less.

So for ball-park calculations, such as estimation of shipping costs, it would be realistic to assume straight-line distance plus up to about 30% additional mileage, depending on the route coverage area.  Straight-line distance is more accurate for longer routes probably because both local road and geographic restrictions – such rivers, lakes, parks, and other obstacles – are less important over longer distances. CDXGeodata uses a free Microsoft Excel template which completely automates straight-line distance calculation between ZIP Codes. Here is a short tutorial showing how it works:

For straight-line distance calculations using specific address locations, we offer an Excel template that works with CDXZipStream to generate reports of locations within a specific radius area.  Please watch the video below for a short tutorial:

When working with large data sets that require highly accurate routing analysis, we recommend a two-step process using straight-line distance calculations to first narrow down the list of candidate locations within a radius, then calculating the actual route distances from this smaller list.  Please refer to our post CDXZipStream Straight-line and Driving Distance Calculations for further discussion.

New CDX Technologies Apps for the Microsoft Windows Store

CDX Technologies is pleased to release a suite of apps that can be downloaded for free in the online Microsoft Store.  The tools will work on Microsoft Windows 8 and 10 operating systems where the Windows Store is available. Three apps have been released including Postal Address and Zip+4 lookup, Zip Code Report, and Demographic Report tools.  These apps match the applications that are also available on our web site under the “Tools” menu.  There is no charge to use these services.

The Postal Address app will let you enter a single or multi-line address to verify if the address is valid.  If valid the entered address will be corrected for spelling and formatting errors to be consistent with USPS standards.   Additional information will be included such as the county name, county FIPs, state FIPS, congressional district, timezone and more.

Our Zip Code Report app will generate a report that includes city, state, county and more for any zip code. Just enter your zip code and press the “Generate Report” button.  The report contains over 20 key zip code data items including latitude, longitude, area code and elevation. Use the "Print" button to save a copy of your data.

 

The Demographic Report app provides population, race, gender and location data based on zip code. Just select a report, enter your zip code and press the “Generate Report” button.  The reports contain over 50 key demographic statistics including household income, population, median age and business employment. Most the data is derived from the 2010 US Census. Click on the “Data Definitions” dropdown for an explanation of any item.

 

Feel free to try these applications and let us know if you have any suggestions.