Geocoding vs. Geofencing: What’s the Difference?
In the world of location-based technology, two essential concepts are important to understand: geocoding and geofencing. These terms sound very similar which can make them harder to distinguish. In this article, we will explore the fundamental differences between these two terms, highlighting their unique roles and applications within location-based services.
Geocoding is the process of converting a physical address into geographic coordinates, typically latitude and longitude. It plays a vital role in mapping and location-based services, allowing applications and systems to pinpoint a specific location accurately. Here are the key aspects of geocoding:
- Address Translation: Geocoding takes a human-readable address, such as "55 Main Street, Los Angeles, California" and translates it into a pair of coordinates, enabling software to understand the location on a map.
- Input to Output: Geocoding transforms input data (address information) into an output format (latitude and longitude). This conversion simplifies tasks like routing, tracking, and navigation.
- Common Applications: Geocoding is used in various applications, including mapping services, real-time location services, and navigation systems. It helps companies define coordinates for their geofences.
Geofencing, on the other hand, is a technology that creates virtual boundaries or perimeters around a specific geographic area. These boundaries trigger predefined actions when a device or object enters or exits the designated area. Key characteristics of geofencing include:
- Location-Based Triggers: Geofencing relies on the device's GPS or other location services to determine when it enters or exits a predefined geographic area.
- Customized Actions: Geofencing allows for the customization of actions that occur within the virtual boundary. For example, it can send notifications, change settings, or activate certain features on a mobile app when a user enters a geofenced area.
Types of geofencing:
- Radius geofencing is to draw a virtual circle around a specific location. This type of geofencing can have an address in the middle or simply a lat/long to mark the center.
- Polygon geofencing is to draw the exact footprint of the area you would like to target. It is a far more specific way of geofencing a location but also requires more work to create the boundary.
- Common Applications: Geofencing has a broad range of applications, from marketing (sending location-based promotions) to security (monitoring restricted zones). It also is foundational for location intelligence services, such as The People Platform's solutions that measure brand visitation, foot traffic, and consumer journeys.
Geocoding and geofencing are crucial components of location-based technology, each serving distinct purposes and having specific applications. Geocoding focuses on translating addresses into coordinates for location identification, while geofencing creates virtual boundaries and triggers actions when devices enter or exit predefined areas. Understanding the differences between these two concepts is essential for anyone working with location-based services or developing applications that rely on location data.
The People Platform combines mobility data with a proximity-based and geo-spatial mapping technology that employs both polygon and radius geo-telemetry to accurately identify visitation to brand locations or points-of-interest. Through this service we can measure visits to a specific location or location set, as well as brand and category-level visitation, allowing for analysis of brands, competitors, or industries.