Location Codes: Better than Addresses?

February 6, 2013

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For many applications a location described by “15 Main Street, Roseville, Illinois 60543” works just fine. In fact, many people the world over grew up using addresses of similar form to address letters or to use when searching for directions using a GPS or website. 

Entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts have argued for some time that there are better ways to share location information. They offer solutions that revolve around number and letter codes and sometimes, meaningful aliases that can locate buildings or regions. Some examples: 
  • 8CNJ Q8ZG
  • AD-23CD or JOHN DOE

The first company I ran into with this vision was NAC Geographic Products Inc. I covered the company in the early 1990s and am happy to report it’s still in business. More recently I learned of two newer players entering the location code space with codes called Mygeopin and qCodes.   I asked each organization, NAC Geographic Products Inc., Pragmasystems Ltd and independent inventor Merton Hale, to answer a few questions that highlight the unique features of their solutions and the role they might play in the geospatial and location-based services world.


NAC Geographic Products’ Natural Area Code (NAC)

The Natural Area Code for an address in Chicago is displayed on Google Maps imagery.

What exact problem are you trying to solve? For whom?

A: Natural Area Code (NAC) is to unify all representations of areas and locations in the world: addresses, postcodes, area codes, geographic coordinates, map grids for all people with different languages, cultures and professions and all applications: GPS navigation, postal/courier/delivery/emergency/taxi services, surveying, mapping, property identifying, etc.

How is your solution to this problem distinct from other similar solutions? 

Compared with Mygeopin and qCode, NAC is the first average-people-memorable, database independent, regularly distributed, multiple-usage and integrated code for all areas and all accurate to one-meter locations everywhere in the world, and can be directly pinpointed on all maps because it is the Universal Map Grid coordinates.

How do you (or will you) grow use of your solution?

We grow the use of our solution through developing our own mapping, navigation and mail sorting software and licensing the technology to other companies to enhance their maps, local search engines, geographic information systems, navigation systems, mail sorting systems, property management systems, emergency response systems, etc. 

How do you (or will you) make money?

Our business model is to provide our own NAC enhanced products and services and to license the technology to all businesses producing commercial products or services enhanced with NAC capability such as navigation systems and mail sorting systems, but make it free of charge to all end users and not-for-profit projects and services all over the world. 

What organizations/companies/countries are using your solution (or to whom will you market your solution)? 

NAC has been legally adopted as the national address systems in Mongolia and Somaliland and commercially licensed to hundreds of companies in the world such as Geodiving, Safeangel, Metamend, XTL Transportation, Zeitgeist Data Management, etc in a variety of industries: entertainment, software, transportation, petroleum, etc. 
Pragmasystems Ltd’s Mygeopin  (iTunes link)
Google Maps locates a Mygeopin code for an address in Chicago.
What exact problem are you trying to solve? For whom?
Simply, simplifying GPS coordinates to a more Humankind code which is easy to remember and communicate to others, parallel to giving an address to the unaddressed and unaddressable parts of our world. All this is encapsulated in a free app.
How is your solution to this problem distinct from other similar solutions?
The Mygeopin code is a mathematical representation of a point related to a city/town center, so it can address any position around it. It's not a simple geotagging, but geocoding. Also important, the code is related to a city name because of the humankind concept that even a child can use it. 
How do you (or will you) grow use of your solution? 
Viraltizing is proving to be tough. But we truly believe that once people grasp the upside of Mygeopin there will be no stopping it. Creating something that can really make everyday situations so much easier is what Mygeopin is all about and that’s the message we’re putting out there.
How do you (or will you) make money?
Revenue generation will come from a series of personalization/vanity packages. From one-year vanity codes to lifetime deals. Not excluding of course companies and small businesses who can also buy a Mygeopin code for one or multiple locations, making it much easier for their customers to find them.
What organizations/companies/countries are using your solution (or to whom will you market your solution)?
Once the database infrastructure is complete Mygeopin will be accessible to all for free from anywhere. We are also in early discussions with nonprofit agencies and public administration services in order to develop the use of the system in countries where address standardization doesn’t exist.
Independent Inventor Merton Hale’s qCode Geotags
qCodes for different house addresses in a neighborhood. (Image courtesy Merton Hale; imagery from Google Maps.)
What exact problem are you trying to solve? For whom?
I developed qCodes to solve the annoying problem of having to “type in” a complete address into a satnav device. Anyone who uses a satnav device (or software) will love qCodes because with qCodes they only have to enter a 6-character code, not a complete address.
How is your solution to this problem distinct from other similar solutions? 
qCodes are distinct because of the brevity of the code – just 6 characters. Only qCodes can geotag any address in the world with only 6 characters. No other system can do that. Also, qCodes can be created using any alphabet: Greek, Cyrillic, Pinyin, etc.
How do you (or will you) grow use of your solution?
We will partner with major players in the market. Only by doing this can qCodes become widely accepted and used. If every NAVTEQ or Tele Atlas map, or Garmin or TomTom device came with qCodes just think how much happier we all would be. Google maps with qCodes - heaven!
How do you (or will you) make money?
That would be determined by what type of partnership deal we can negotiate. Special qCodes (Site, Personal, and Corporate) are income generating in their own right. We forecast significant income generation from these Special qCodes. Wouldn’t you be willing to pay a reasonable amount for a qCode of “DIRECTIONS”? [No, we are virtual company! : ) - Ed.]
What organizations/companies/countries are using your solution (or to whom will you market your solution)?
qCodes have just been launched into the marketplace. We hope to quickly develop partnerships with major players so that we can all start benefitting from qCodes as soon as possible.
The work of NAC Geo, Pragmasystems Ltd and Merton Hale join many other attempts to standardize aspects of geographic data. While sometimes formal juried (de jure) standards win, most of the time it’s the solution that has the biggest pull, such as .DOC, .SHP and .DWG. Clearly, in 2013, it’s still any organization’s game in the address coding space.

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