Placekey Blog

Product updates, industry-leading insights, and more

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Legacy Software for Address Matching

Jan 26, 2021 by Placekey

Linking location and address data can be extremely useful, as it can help you gain deeper insights about the exact location of an address, and ensure you are referring to a proper address in your data. No matter why you need your addresses matched and validated, an address matching software is a common solution.

However, there are a number of problems with address matching software tools. To address all of the shortcomings, we cover the following:

  • What is address matching legacy software?
  • 5 reasons not to use legacy software for address matching

Before we get into the reasons, let’s cover the basics of what address matching is and what legacy software solutions offer. We’ll also provide solutions to these common problems with address matching solutions.


What is address matching software?

Address matching software are solutions that perform the function of address matching (or geocoding), which is assigning location coordinates to an address in an authoritative database. It’s important to note that many solutions use the term address matching interchangeably with address validation and address standardization. Many of these legacy tools verify and standardize addresses, but address validation is not a substitute for address matching.

Many tools referred to as address matching tools, or which perform address matching, are actually matching, validating, and standardizing addresses, opposed to just matching them to a location on a map. However, it’s important to know the difference between each:

  • Address validation: verifying an address exists within an authoritative database.
  • Address standardization: correcting an address to match the correct standardized format, according to an authoritative database.

In many cases, tools marketed as address matching solutions will do three steps, address validation, address matching, and address standardization.

Definitions for address matching terms


5 reasons not to use legacy software for address matching

Address matching solutions can help you confirm addresses, and check that an address matches a specific location in the real-world. However, there are limitations to outdated forms of address matching software, which we will refer to as legacy software. We cover five of the main problems with address matching software, and outline how a tool like Placekey can overcome these obstacles better than address matching algorithms and scripts can.

1. Address matching legacy solutions are rarely open-source, and therefore less accessible and flexible

In most cases, legacy address matching solutions are not open-source or free to use, making them less accessible. These solutions are also less flexible and easy to work with, as they are not designed for easy integration or for add-ons to be developed freely.

In contrast, free or open-source solutions encourage adoption, as they are free to use. Even better still, these solutions generally foster a community of people that build add-ons, modifications, and other enhancements for the tool, and offer true data enablement to make everyone’s data better. These are often catered to specific use cases, and you can even have a team of developers build your own extensions.

2. Address matching does not use key-based linking

Key-based linking is used as a more effective reference mechanism to connect resources. However, address matching doesn’t actually use key-based linking, meaning you have to cross-reference information in both places, after having matched the addresses. 

While you can pair these two information resources, you don’t actually link them with an easily referenced key. You will either be looking up information via the address or via the pinpoint location, but there is no key that works for both simultaneously.

With Placekey, the Placekey itself serves this function, providing an easy-to-use location key that links the physical location to the address records. The individual pieces of information are all encoded directly into the Placekey itself, so that all of this information is connected and can easily be referenced.

Placekey structure

The key can be used as a universal identifier, allowing you to cross-reference the other information. Information about all of the related sections can also be stored in one place, making it easier to view, collect, and analyze information. With Placekey’s standardized and easy-to-read formatting, you can also quickly draw conclusions and relations about the Placekey(s) you are using.

3. You cannot encode multiple places at one address

Address matching allows you to pair a real-life place (based on its location on a map) to an address record in a database. Since it only pairs this information, it doesn’t actually allow you to encode two separate places to the same address, or to track different POIs at the same location over time.

Placekey solves these limitations, as you encode both an address and POI within the ‘What’ of the Placekey. This address and POI (or ‘What’ section of the Placekey) exists within the ‘Where’ section of the Placekey. For example, the following Placekeys refer to two different POIs at the same address, as their address information is the same in the Placekey.

  • 223-227@5vg-7gq-tvz
  • 223-228@5vg-7gq-tvz

By using this system, addresses can be encoded using the same symbols, making them universal, easily recognizable, and indexable. For example, someone wanting to lookup information on a specific address can simply search Placekeys via the address and ‘Where’ encodings, finding all related POIs for that address.

  • 223-___@5vg-7gq-tvz

This allows for quick and efficient lookup, as well as the ability to search addresses for all relevant POIs. In theory, any one address could have hundreds of POIs, all of which can be represented with a unique Placekey (think of the Empire State Building!).

This makes all information easy to cross reference, as it is referred to using a universal identifier. It also creates a significantly better system to replace traditional addresses, which require address matching, address validation, and address standardization (and still come with flaws).

4. They are expensive to buy and manage

Address matching legacy tools are often costly, as they require CASS certification in the US (which must be renewed annually) to ensure you are using valid addresses. They also require address standardization technology that will fix incorrect addresses, which must be able to identify errors and cross-reference to find the correct address.

Placekey, on the other hand, is completely free to use. Anyone can lookup and create their own Placekeys, and then use them to standardize location data management. Placekey uses H3 (Uber’s Hexagonal Hierarchical Spatial Index) for their location mapping. 

Since H3 is an open-source solution, there is already an active community of users that have developed other libraries, tools, and services using H3. By making Placekey function as an open-source solution, it is easily adoptable (users can quickly use this technology with limited barriers) and adaptable (users can customize solutions that work with Placekey, leveraging it for greater capability).

5. Limited connectivity and integration options

Legacy software solutions are not always designed to work together as effectively as they should. They do not always function seamlessly, and can cause limitations and problems when trying to get them to integrate. In contrast, freely-available solutions like Placekey allow for the community of users to build out a range of solutions unique to their needs. You can even have a team build out your own integrations and solutions, enhancing what you can do with Placekey.



Legacy address matching solutions have a few limitations, including limited interoperability with other tools, no key-based linking system, and you cannot encode multiple POIs to a single address with ease. Placekey solves all of these problems, and is an entirely free to use universal address identifier for any physical place. Learn more about how Placekey works, and find out how it can empower your team!

Get ready to unlock new insights on physical places