Metachat: Geocoding the Directory of Major Malls File

Location, Location, Location, is the basic mantra of any professional involved in the commercial and retail real estate industries as the many others which require very specific location coordinates require for accurate analysis. As providers of comprehensive contact and retail trend information used to determine competitive placement of businesses within malls and shopping centers 200,000 sq ft and above, as well as a vast number of smaller lifestyle/specialty and mixed-use centers, DMM knows how critical it is to have a visual roadmap of the physical retail project location and its surrounding area. So we’ve developed a method of capturing geographic and demographic details in order to produce high quality datapoint location and trend demographic dataset products.

Example geocoding map view of the United States

Example of Geocoding Coordinates of the United States

Additionally, these points are available to license for use in third party mapping/GIS and analytic software systems, and are used internally to allow subscribers to the ShoppingCenters.com website the ability to visually located the centers via the BingMap API available to all subscribers.Geocoding is the process of determining latitude/longitude coordinates for a geographic feature given the other location attributes of that feature. Once a geocode is associated with a shopping center, we haev the ability to position it accurately and then calculate demographics for a distance surrounding the retail project.

Many, many years back, the location points malls were geocoded using a technique called batch address mode.  This method utilized the street addresses or cross-streets of the malls and fed them into a system that attempted to match this information to known road segments and intersections in a TIGER-based geocoding database.

There were challenges to this process primarily related to accuracy of the street information provided. When batch processing failed to determine a good set of coordinates, hand-geocoding was employed. This process required a GIS analyst to use a variety of resources to find the best location for the project. Without the current easy access to imagery and online research more readily available today, this was often a slow and tedious task that was reliant upon the operator’s findings and using appropriate materials.

Thankfully, Internet access and vast technological improvements in GIS has made this process more efficient and effective, resulting in higher accuracy rates for the geocodes.  This past year we re-verified our entire inventory of location coordinates. A combination of applications combined with satellite imagery and actual hands-on manual verification was used to re-confirm every location in our database. This includes the challenge of correctly identifying the future physical location of projects in the pipeline for several years ahead as well as those in the early stages of construction. In some cases, these projects are not yet visible in the most recent satellite imagery for the geographic area. Therefore properly locating these projects entails cross-referencing multiple sources including the developing company’s sometimes vague location description, location imagery of the surrounding area, along with actual municipal records in order to accurately predict the future location of the project. Our goal is that once built, the project will appear where DMM has already positioned the coordinates before construction even began.

We continuously review the DMM database and make adjustments whenever necessary and are extremely proud of the valuable  coordinate data we are able to provide to our subscribers and licensing customers. We encourage you to sample our data to see for yourself. You’ll find our accuracy will more completely enhance your analysis and mapping GIS processes so you make even better decisions for your business than ever before.

For more details on the Directory of Major Malls products visit www.shoppingcenters.com. Speak to one of our sales reps at 800-898-MALL (6255) x204 and check out our custom dataset product page for additional details and sample files.

NY Deal Making 2018