Location Data

Location is one of the most challenging data. This is why many countries created postal codes. That way, your mail will not get lost in delivery. In reality, many Asian countries are not using postal codes. Thus, the mismatch of rates to location for TMS often creates a lot of discrepancies. It is also one of key concerns for maintenance team as dirty location cannot be match to correct rates.

Find My Address

There is no standard way to name the address except to split to different fields like block, street, city or postal code. Small country like Singapore actually do not need a city field. New data form allows saving entire field naturally. You can also subscribe to map services to query by differing parameters like postal code or Lat/Lon. However, there is no standard return format and results varies among different maps providers.

Handling Location

If you are moving to digital transformation and data analytics, it is worth the investment to have some sanity to handle your location data. Commons techniques involves standardised usage of city or postal code. Usually, list of values (LOV) are used. Sometimes, you may face with refusal to clean up those data. If this is the case, you end up expending more cost and efforts go handle the chaotic data.

Location data is gaining importance for many applications especially TMS (Transportation Management System). However, it is a cat and mouse game to handle the different formats of location. Hopefully, as we move to smart data. All this can be automated and relieve the burden of users and application owners.

Review of Map Engine

Geospatial data is gaining popularity with cloud technologies and iOT (Internet of Things). With mobile devices, this data have become ubiquitous and must have. However, getting this data to traditional desktop is still progressing slowly as you usually require a map engine to be integrated. I did a quick review with some popular map engine to see if I can setup a simple map page within a day.

Review Steps and Criterion
  1. Google search of popular Maps with the key words – online maps, maps API, maps engine.
  2. Maps reviews on setup and costs.
  3. Maps that can be used in China, because majority of popular maps are blocked in China.
  4. Build a simple web page and access the map API to query address by Lat/Lon, also known as Reverse Geocoding API.
Shortlisted Maps
  1. Google Map
  2. Baidu (In mandarin)
  3. Amap (In mandarin)
  4. HERE
Google Map

Plus point of Google Map is the common information found for its API. However, Login and credit card information is now compulsory to use Google API. There is also no secure way to access China maps and you may need Google.cn.

Baidu

The login keep asking for a local China phone number, assuming it is for WeChat. You will need strong mastery of Chinese as it seems geared only for China market. No pricing is stated.

Amap

Like Baidu, the entire experience is similar. Login with China mobile is being asked and integrated with WeChat. No English support is provided and pricing is also not stated.

HERE

HERE map is an upcoming map engine by a consortium of cars manufacturers. The documents are straightforward and easy to implement. There are news that they are covering China. So, it will be a map engine to look out.

Summary and Mixed Map

Overall, China coverage are limited to China map engines. Google and HERE are pretty well supported for the rest of world. There will need to be detailed testing on the accuracy as these are high level evaluations. From organisation view, it will be cost effective to support a single map engine. However, due to country constraints, there may be a need for multiple map engine support,