Perfecting Hyperlocal Accuracy
In the United States, a single geographic point can have multiple official
place names, each of which is administered by a separate public agency.
Hyperlocal is broken. The common practice of basing locality on ZIP Codes does not work. Our algorithm derives hyperlocation perfectly for all use cases, nationwide.
Various methods are used by enterprises to identify local place names and their geographic boundaries, yet providing relevant localized content invariably breaks for some users. Perfectly implementing localization is possible, though it requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Accurately determine the local identity of any geographic point in the United States.
Vendors of data and even maps, along with their private sector customers, traditionally have used unburdensome ZIP Codes to define locality. However, ZIP Code names and delivery areas are arbitrary in nature and largely ignore the will of local populations, representing instead administered names with areas based on nothing more than contractual mail delivery routes. Worse, with normal population shifts and the continual closure of post offices nationwide, the inherently static boundaries of ZIP Codes render them progressively obsolete for defining locality and demographics. Critically, using ZIP Codes alone to identify place names is a fatal mistake!
By contrast, incorporated place and census designated place boundaries are dynamic and the communities they define remain relevant by reflecting the political will of residents. But, since these are the only classes of places that have official boundaries, using geographic names exclusively to define locality amounts to nothing more than guessing and hoping.
This simple algorithm accurately resolves toponyms and provides the geographic boundaries of every location in the United States. It fully reflects the political will of local residents and works perfectly in the largest urban centers, as well as the most sparsely populated rural areas.
1. Does POP have the identical name as a CITY and is it nested within that CITY? If yes, display POP. If no, go to 2.
2. Does POP have the identical name as a ZIP and is it nested within that corresponding DELIVERY? If yes, display POP. If no, go to 3.
3. Is POP nested within a CITY? If yes, display CITY. If no, go to 4.
4. Is POP nested within a DELIVERY? If yes, display PREFERRED. If no, end.
CITY is either an incorporated place or a census designated place in the Geographic Names Information System of the United States Geological Survey.
DELIVERY is a 5-digit ZIP Code delivery area, each of which will have one preferred city and may have one or more acceptable cities.
POP is a populated place in the Geographic Names Information System of the United States Geological Survey.
PREFERRED is a preferred city in the Address Management System of the United States Postal Service.
ZIP is either a preferred or an acceptable city in the Address Management System of the United States Postal Service.
It is necessary to procure polygons of all incorporated places, census designated places and ZIP Code delivery areas and to delineate the populated places nested within them.
If populated places with duplicate names exist within a given state, the first to meet a criterion of the algorithm has that formal name, in that state. Any that fails to meet a criterion first is ignored. In the event of a tie, these populated places can be disambiguated by county. Any populated place that is not nested within the boundaries of its corresponding incorporated place or census designated place should be submitted for correction to the Geographic Names Information System.
When it is desired that only metropolitan areas be identified, incorporated place and census designated place names exclusively can be used.
Since ZIP Codes have no direct relevance to place names, never label ZIP Code delivery areas with only preferred cities! This practice creates broken use cases! Such address "standardization" defeats the purpose of hyperlocalization by completely stripping away local identity, leaving users alienated! Any application that defines places based solely on ZIP Codes must include all preferred and acceptable cities!
All GNIS Feature Class Definitions are available at http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=132:8. The GNIS Feature Search is at http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/. Additions, corrections and modifications to GNIS can be submitted at http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=DGNPPublic. The USPS ZIP Code Lookup is at https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction_input.
Text is available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Reach The Hyperlocal Foundation by writing hyperlocal at hypl dot org.
The mission of The Hyperlocal Foundation is to ensure that each person at every location in the United States is provided accurate hyperlocal services.