DOT Presses Forward on National Address Database
When you call 911 in an emergency, you expect responders to be able to find you. That the system might stumble trying to translate your address into the geospatial coordinates doesn’t occur to you for even a moment. Nor should it.
A complete, current, and accurate address list including street number, street name, city –as well as less commonly used information like Latitude/Longitude, GML point geometry, and spatial reference system– with associated metadata is essential for a variety of government and non-government functions, including emergency response, conducting the Census, income tax collection, delivering the mail, planning, routing, and many others.
But currently, many agencies and organizations either collect, purchase, or lease address information in an uncoordinated fashion. To date, there has been no national database of address points in the public domain, and that’s why, last April, DOT hosted the National Address Database Summit[external link]
A National Address Database (NAD) would provide accurate address location information that could be used to save lives, reduce costs, and improve services for public and private interests. And if it’s going to provide the foundation for the 21st century services we expect, like Next Generation 9-1-1, it needs attention from bright minds inside and outside government.
That’s why the Summit convened stakeholders from all levels of government and the private sector to identify the possible alternatives for developing a NAD. As the Indiana Geographic Information Council[external link] noted, “The summit was a milestone event to help kick-start Local, State, Federal partnerships to create an authoritative and publicly available NAD to support applications for NG9-1-1, USPS, Census, FEMA, USDOT, HUD and virtually any statewide or local geocoding application you can think of.”
Participants were pleased to see four key points of agreement emerge from the Summit to help guide the NAD initiative:
- Local authorities are the authoritative source for address assignment and are data set originators;
- State authorities should be statewide aggregators of county and local data sets;
- Given the vast and complex nature of the United States it is critical to recognize the role of non-state governmental entities such as Tribal Nations, U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia play in an NAD; and
- Federal leadership and support is needed for there to be a sustainable national approach.
Now, the hard work begins.
First, we’ll need to identify what’s already in place and what’s missing. Because it will be faster to use existing resources, we’ll try to leverage what’s already out there, like the current Open Data initiative and agile project teams. And, we need to break through bureaucratic biases toward slow-moving big projects to establish small, achievable pilot projects as quickly as possible.
At DOT, we’re working hard to build on the momentum the Summit created and encourage participation. In the coming months, we’ll be kicking-off the first small pilots, and we look forward to continued engagement from the community as we tackle the hard work that lies ahead.