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An address is a structured label, usually containing a property number, a street name and a locality name. It’s used to identify a plot of land, a building or part of a building, or some other construction, together with coordinates indicating their geographic position. Addresses are often used as a proxy for other data themes such as Land Parcels.

Why is this theme fundamental?

Addresses underpin government administration at all levels; and good administration is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development goals. An address is often the unit to which a public service, such as water, is provided. Addresses also enable effective communication with citizens; informing them of policies applying to them, and notifying them of relevant incidents.

The theme also helps in managing buildings and properties, and supports social surveys. Datasets relating to individuals or households are often linked to addresses, which can therefore play a role in connecting otherwise-unrelated information. Geocoding addresses relates such information to geographic location. This allows for location-based data analytics and data mining.

Which sustainable development goals (SDGs) will it help to meet?

Addresses have been identified as playing a key role in the achievement of SDGs 4,6,7, 9 and 11.

Geospatial data features in more detail

The addresses theme comprises a single feature type, address, to which a variable number of attributes may be attached. Typically, in urban areas these comprise at least one locator (building, floor or apartment number and/or name), a two-dimensional geographic position and a number of address components which place the address within other features such as a road, a locality, an administrative unit or postal code. In rural areas the locator may be less precise.

Possible sources of data
Address datasets are usually maintained by public authorities. While data may be created and maintained at local level, it should ideally be compiled into a single national register.

Existing Data Standards
Note: This is indicative. Other lists of standards exist and UN-GGIM will seek to work with thematic experts to develop a list of relevant data standards.
  • INSPIRE Data Specification on Geographical Names – Technical Guidelines 3.1;
  • ISO 19160-1:2015 Addressing -- Part 1: Conceptual model;
  • ISA Programme Location Core Vocabulary; and,
  • ISO 19160-4(UPU, Universal Postal Union) Addressing--Part4: International postal address components and template language.