Address Verification

What is Geolocation and How to Best Use Geolocation API?

By 9 February 2024May 23rd, 2024No Comments
address geolocation

What is Geolocation and How to Best Use Geolocation API?

A company employs geolocation data to determine the whereabouts of a website visitor or app user. Occasionally, a website may present subtle notifications such as:

  • “This website employs cookies to retain details about your visit, including your location.”
  • “This website is interested in obtaining your location.”
address geolocation

These notifications either inform or request consent for gauging the user's geolocation. Nevertheless, their acceptance may be optional, or perhaps mandatory, contingent upon the method you use to ascertain the website visitor's latitude and longitude.

What is Geolocation?

Geolocation involves the creation and utilization of geographical data. Current devices predominantly rely on global positioning satellite chips to determine their geographic location, enabling applications to offer proximity-based information and navigation services.

Geolocation has diverse applications, from generating and utilizing location-based data to maintaining geographical records. Business leaders and decision-makers must understand its primary methods, practical applications, general security considerations, and extensive benefits.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, it pertains to the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of an Internet-connected device or application, not the user's specific location. To clarify, if you've ever wondered what geo-location data is but hesitated to ask, it essentially refers to the physical location of the electronic device accessing the Internet.

Suppose you leave your phone in your car and embark on a silent hour-long run (like a creature). During that time, your phone's history would reflect the location of your car.

On the other hand, your fitness tracker, securely strapped to your wrist throughout the run, would likely record its geolocation history as the path you took during that hour—probably.

How is Geo-Location Data or API Helpful?

Geolocation finds application in various contexts, with government and law enforcement utilizing it for security purposes, such as with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or ankle bracelets. The imprecise nature of such data collection raises some implications. On a brighter note, certain companies leverage geolocation to revolutionize gaming through augmented reality, as seen in games like Ingress and Pokémon Go.

Beyond gaming, geolocation is employed for diverse tasks such as course-plotting, tracking elevation changes, viewing location history, locating nearby services like tire shops, tagging images on social media, checking at places, accessing local weather, and more. To ensure your location data remains secure during these activities, using a VPN is highly recommended. Its integration into our daily lives facilitates smoother interactions, problem-solving, goal-setting, and tracking of various aspects.

Given its integral role in our lives, companies continue to harness geolocation to enhance online experiences. For instance:

– A delivery food chain might use it for potential expansion by analyzing website visitors' locations.

– A hospital network could recommend the closest emergency room to website visitors based on their locations.

– A global company might redirect country-specific website visitors to relevant pages.

– A city tourism organization could tailor location-based content based on the city's website visitors' whereabouts.

Examples: Geolocation-Data in Banking and Financial Services

Geolocation proves particularly advantageous when integrated into financial services, as demonstrated in various scenarios:

  1. Payments
    Financial institutions with mobile apps that utilize location tracking can cross-reference the customer's phone location with the site where they use their payment cards. It helps identify potential payment card theft. If the locations don't align, immediate fraud detection occurs, allowing the card to be promptly deactivated. Matching locations prevent service disruptions that might arise when unusual card activity triggers alerts from the payment card provider.
  1. Insurance Claims Processing
    The geo-location data tech plays a crucial role in insurance claims adjustment apps. It helps verify a policyholder's location, reducing the occurrence of fraudulent or exaggerated claims. Policyholders collaborate with insurance agents through a visual claims platform in real-time via web-based communication. It facilitates the assessment of loss extent, determination of fair claim amounts, and live video calls for damage assessment using phone cameras. This approach ensures greater customer satisfaction with claims payments, reducing complaints to regulators and resulting in mutually beneficial outcomes for insurance companies and their customers.
  1. Banking
    Bluetooth beacons, similar to those in stores for targeted discounts, enhance banking convenience. Geolocation allows customers to use their mobile phones, rather than ATM cards, to access branch ATMs after business hours. This technology also improves service within smart bank branches by notifying employees when customers wait too long in teller lines. It enables redirection to other bank employees who can assist at a desk, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Field Services and Free Geolocation

Field services companies were among the pioneers in adopting geolocation technology. The indispensability of precisely pinpointing the locations of drills and turbines and identifying assets that require maintenance or repairs underscores the essential role of location technology in this sector.

Professionals in the field frequently depend on it for their operations. Businesses operating in remote areas often employ satellite geolocation technology.

When field workers venture beyond the reach of cell towers and wireless or wired internet networks, GPS geolocation, and satellite connectivity become reliable solutions for individuals and their employers. The shift toward remote work has heightened its significance for an increasing number of office-based businesses.

While employees may have the flexibility to work from various locations, many enterprises in goods and services rely on it for location-based delivery or pickup services. Additionally, it is a primary focus area for targeting proximity-based advertisements.

Privacy Considerations When Using Geo-Location Data

Geolocation has many good things, but it also has problems with safety and privacy. When you use a device or app that knows where you are, knowing how they use that information and who they share it with is crucial.

Companies using it must keep this information safe so employees don't misuse it. People also don't want their location data, given for one reason (like banking), to be used for something else (like ads) without them knowing and agreeing.

Companies, especially in finance, should tell customers how they use their geolocation data via a browser to maintain trust. For instance, an app can tell users how their location data helps when using it and let them say no if they don't like it.

Users should also know if they can delete their location history later if they change their minds. If people don't trust how firms use their location data, it can be hard to expand geo-technology.

Geo-location data can tell a lot about private users. National, state, and regional databases are usually not very personal. But, more detailed location information, like specific areas or street addresses, is more private.

Companies using it need strong security to protect employees and confidential information. Businesses using user location data should clearly say how they use databases and let users choose not to use location-based services.

How to Use Geolocation Within Your Workflows?

Everyone involved in a business must be aware of location-specific aspects of operations. Tasks or processes that need to happen in specific places can benefit from devices that can find users and provide geographic data to applications or systems, which then organize, digitize, and automate workflows. Geolocation usually happens in the background, but recent updates, especially for Apple iOS users, provide more control over location settings and privacy.

Users may now encounter the following options for location access:

  1. Allow access while using an application:
  • Location data is available to an app only while users use it.
  • This allows location-based features to work while restricting general access to geolocation data.
  1. Allow one-time location access:
  • This option lets an app use location data for one specific instance.
  • Users need to manually choose this setting again if they want the app to access their location in the future.
  1. Allow background location access:
  • This setting allows apps to continually access location data, even when not in use.
  • Certain apps, like weather apps on iOS, may need this for current notifications.
  1. Don’t allow location access:
  • This prevents an app from accessing the user's location.
  • With this setting, location-based results and “near me” functions are unavailable.

Considering its business needs, management might establish a policy for location settings on work applications and devices. Applications for coordinating tasks and processes may require access to location data during use or at specific times.

Weaknesses You Might Encounter.

Although IP-based geolocation provides valuable business information, users may hesitate to share their data. Consequently, there has been an increase in the use of VPNs, proxies, and other IP obfuscation tools.

Businesses might compromise the database through data injection, where users send false locations or when they don't collect any details due to a lack of user consent.

If you require precise customer addresses, including house numbers, the most reliable approach is to directly ask for this information rather than relying solely on automated methods to learn- “What is precise geolocation data?”

Mobile-Based Geolocation Data

Mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, and fitness trackers, are intuitive when it comes to utilizing geolocation. Whether you're determining the distance to your mosquito-filled adventure or calculating if your uphill run merits a pound of gummy bears, these devices provide practical uses.

Data collection on devices relies on GPS and cellular networks, offering higher accuracy in densely populated areas due to closer triangulation. Conversely, lower population density can result in less accuracy, often leading to data delays. While errors may increase, they mustn't reach the point where the family minivan, guided by GPS, ends up at a national park instead of Grandma's house.

For location-based services to function, users need to enable them, possessing both a GPS chip and a cell network signal for GPS-tower-device triangulation. However, this accessibility raises privacy concerns, prompting specific considerations for device-based data collection:

  1. Users must grant permission for location detection on each device and application.
  2. Websites need to request a visitor's location.
  3. With Chrome 50 and beyond, the HTML Geolocation API only operates on secure websites (denoted by “https://” instead of “http://”), prioritizing user security.

Server-Based Geolocation

Another geolocation method relies on server-based data collection linked to your device's IP address through Wi-Fi or Ethernet. IP addresses are stored in databases, associating physical locations with those IPs through years of data mining. These databases are managed and sold by third-party services, and the accuracy of the data depends on the quality of the servicer's information. When the value of data hinges on accuracy, but the source depends on availability, the reliability of the data becomes questionable.

To illustrate, consider the analogy of three credit bureaus:

  1. Each bureau receives data from various sources like creditors' databases and public records.
  2. Each applies its criteria for data processing, including how far back to look, where to search, how frequently to update data, and which data to auto-refresh.
  3. Each maintains its database storing the collected information.

Similar to credit bureaus, IP-based location databases vary because their servicers have distinct criteria for data collection. For instance, some providers may use “user-entered” inquiries, where visitors must input their addresses directly into a form. The accuracy of this information is assessed by comparing it against similar location responses and validating it through location algorithms.

IP geolocation accuracy relies on the volume of data (and supporting data) related to a specific location. It also uses the timeliness of data acquisition through third-party servicer databases. This variability explains why attempts to determine the geolocation of specific offices may yield different results based on the IP location.

IP geolocation is generally more accurate on a broader scale, such as country detection, with approximately 90% accuracy in the United States. However, at the city level, accuracy drops to 50-70%. When accuracy falls below 50%, websites often don't require permission for location access, addressing potential privacy concerns.

Mixing Server-Based and Mobile-Based Geolocation Collection

Using either form of geolocation comes with some considerations. Naturally, for device-based detection (the most accurate and ideal for city-specific location details), you must obtain visitors' permission.

On the other hand, server-based detection, which is less intrusive and well-suited for country-specific information, may yield inaccurate results if you route the visitor's IP address through a proxy server like a VPN.

In such cases, the IP address depends on the server's location rather than the visitor's. Given the potential for failure in either type of data collection, websites may sometimes employ both as a fallback, recognizing that having some data is better than none, ultimately enhancing the user experience.

PostGrid's address verification API services allow you to get accurate geo-location data against your mailing lists. You can also employ reverse geocoding to suit your needs.

Conclusion

The capacity to generate accurate location data offers numerous applications and benefits. Decision-makers within enterprises can explore various valuable ways to integrate geolocation into digitized workflows. Geolocation technology is already advantageous for numerous field services companies and providers of location-based services.

PostGrid's address verification lets you avail of these benefits by getting valid geocodes for your customers' delivery addresses.

Get a demo now for more details on how to use geolocation with PostGrid address verification!

Ready to Get Started?

Start transforming and automating your offline communications with PostGrid

SIGN UPREQUEST A DEMO

Explore Address Verification

Understanding USPS API and Address Validation Web Service