Journal Article

Accuracy and Repeatability of Commercial Geocoding

Eric A. Whitsel, Kathryn M. Rose, Joy L. Wood, Amanda C. Henley, Duanping Liao and Gerardo Heiss

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 160, issue 10, pages 1023-1029
Published in print November 2004 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online November 2004 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwh310
Accuracy and Repeatability of Commercial Geocoding

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The authors estimated accuracy and repeatability of commercial geocoding to guide vendor selection in the Life Course Socioeconomic Status, Social Context and Cardiovascular Disease study (2001–2002). They submitted 1,032 participant addresses (97% in Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, or North Carolina) to vendor A twice over 9 months and measured repeatability as agreement between levels of address matching, discordance (%) between statistical tabulation areas, and median distance (d, in meters) and bearing (θ, in degrees) between coordinates assigned on each occasion (Hoi = 1 →n [θi /n] = 180°). They also submitted 75 addresses of nearby air pollution monitors (77% urban/suburban; 69% residential/commercial) to vendors A and B and then measured accuracy by comparing vendor- and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)–assigned geocodes using the above measures. Repeatability of geocodes assigned by vendor A was high (kappa = 0.90; census block group discordance = 5%; d < 1 m; θ = 177°). The match rate for EPA monitor addresses was higher for vendor B versus A (88% vs. 76%), but discordance at census block group, tract, and county levels also was, respectively, 1.4-, 1.9-, and 5.0-fold higher for vendor B. Moreover, coordinates assigned by vendor B were further from those assigned by the EPA (d = 212 m vs. 149 m; θ = 131° vs. 171°). These findings suggest that match rates, repeatability, and accuracy should be used to guide vendor selection.

Keywords: air pollution; cardiovascular diseases; geographic information systems; reproducibility of results; Abbreviations: EPA, US Environmental Protection Agency; FIPS, Federal Information Processing Standards; LC-SES, Life Course Socioeconomic Status, Social Context and Cardiovascular Disease.

Journal Article.  3802 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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