Anyone who has worked on network design projects focusing on networks outside North America will tell you that geocoding international locations is a slow and painful multi-step process. The main pain point being multiple spellings for the same city/state name. Is it ‘Bangalore’ or ‘Bengaluru’? Does your data read ‘Kaapstad’ instead of ‘Capetown’ (Kaapstad is the Afrikaans name for Capetown)?
Our consulting team works on dozens of international assignments every year. We use a combination of the resources below to make the geocoding process less painful.
- In-house World Geocode database (downloadable free for our customers)
- PC*MILER World – we use their Connect API and batch geocode directly from MS Acess
- www.geonames.org : This is an open source database. You can download data files for each country or get a one shot data dump. If you are scripting savvy, they have a webservice that you can tap into directly from MS Access.
If there are any locations that did not get geocoded at the end of this process, we clean the names manually and have a go at it again!
If you know of other sources, please feel free to add them in the comments section.