Chapter 14. PostGIS Extras

Table of Contents
14.1. Tiger Geocoder

This chapter documents features found in the extras folder of the PostGIS source tarballs and source repository. These are not always packaged with PostGIS binary releases, but are usually plpgsql based or standard shell scripts that can be run as is.

14.1. Tiger Geocoder

Abstract

A plpgsql based geocoder written to work with the TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system ) / Line and Master Address database export released by the US Census Bureau.

There are four components to the geocoder: the data loader functions, the address normalizer, the address geocoder, and the reverse geocoder.

Although it is designed specifically for the US, a lot of the concepts and functions are applicable and can be adapted to work with other country address and road networks.

The script builds a schema called tiger to house all the tiger related functions, reusable lookup data such as road type prefixes, suffixes, states, various control tables for managing data load, and skeleton base tables from which all the tiger loaded tables inherit from.

Another schema called tiger_data is also created which houses all the census data for each state that the loader downloads from Census site and loads into the database. In the current model, each set of state tables is prefixed with the state code e.g ma_addr, ma_edges etc with constraints to enforce only that state data. Each of these tables inherits from the tables addr, faces, edges, etc located in the tiger schema.

All the geocode functions only reference the base tables, so there is no requirement that the data schema be called tiger_data or that data can't be further partitioned into other schemas -- e.g a different schema for each state, as long as all the tables inherit from the tables in the tiger schema.

For instructions on how to enable the extension in your database and also to load data using it, refer to Section 2.4.1, “Tiger Geocoder Enabling your PostGIS database: Using Extension”.

[Note]

If you are using tiger geocoder (tiger_2010), you can upgrade the scripts using the accompanying upgrade_geocoder.bat / .sh scripts in extras/tiger. One major change between tiger_2010 and tiger_2011+ is that the county and state tables are no longer broken out by state. If you have data from tiger_2010 and want to replace with tiger_2015, refer to Section 2.4.5, “Upgrading your Tiger Geocoder Install”

[Note]

New in PostGIS 2.2.0 release is support for Tiger 2015 data and inclusion of Address Standardizer as part of PostGIS.

New in PostGIS 2.1.0 release is ability to install tiger geocoder with PostgreSQL extension model if you are running PostgreSQL 9.1+. Refer to Section 2.4.1, “Tiger Geocoder Enabling your PostGIS database: Using Extension” for details.

The Pagc_Normalize_Address function as a drop in replacement for in-built Normalize_Address. Refer to Section 2.3, “Installing and Using the address standardizer” for compile and installation instructions.

Design:

The goal of this project is to build a fully functional geocoder that can process an arbitrary United States address string and using normalized TIGER census data, produce a point geometry and rating reflecting the location of the given address and likeliness of the location. The higher the rating number the worse the result.

The reverse_geocode function, introduced in PostGIS 2.0.0 is useful for deriving the street address and cross streets of a GPS location.

The geocoder should be simple for anyone familiar with PostGIS to install and use, and should be easily installable and usable on all platforms supported by PostGIS.

It should be robust enough to function properly despite formatting and spelling errors.

It should be extensible enough to be used with future data updates, or alternate data sources with a minimum of coding changes.

[Note]

The tiger schema must be added to the database search path for the functions to work properly.

Drop_Indexes_Generate_Script — Generates a script that drops all non-primary key and non-unique indexes on tiger schema and user specified schema. Defaults schema to tiger_data if no schema is specified.
Drop_Nation_Tables_Generate_Script — Generates a script that drops all tables in the specified schema that start with county_all, state_all or state code followed by county or state.
Drop_State_Tables_Generate_Script — Generates a script that drops all tables in the specified schema that are prefixed with the state abbreviation. Defaults schema to tiger_data if no schema is specified.
Geocode — Takes in an address as a string (or other normalized address) and outputs a set of possible locations which include a point geometry in NAD 83 long lat, a normalized address for each, and the rating. The lower the rating the more likely the match. Results are sorted by lowest rating first. Can optionally pass in maximum results, defaults to 10, and restrict_region (defaults to NULL)
Geocode_Intersection — Takes in 2 streets that intersect and a state, city, zip, and outputs a set of possible locations on the first cross street that is at the intersection, also includes a geomout as the point location in NAD 83 long lat, a normalized_address (addy) for each location, and the rating. The lower the rating the more likely the match. Results are sorted by lowest rating first. Can optionally pass in maximum results, defaults to 10. Uses Tiger data (edges, faces, addr), PostgreSQL fuzzy string matching (soundex, levenshtein).
Get_Geocode_Setting — Returns value of specific setting stored in tiger.geocode_settings table.
Get_Tract — Returns census tract or field from tract table of where the geometry is located. Default to returning short name of tract.
Install_Missing_Indexes — Finds all tables with key columns used in geocoder joins and filter conditions that are missing used indexes on those columns and will add them.
Loader_Generate_Census_Script — Generates a shell script for the specified platform for the specified states that will download Tiger census state tract, bg, and tabblocks data tables, stage and load into tiger_data schema. Each state script is returned as a separate record.
Loader_Generate_Script — Generates a shell script for the specified platform for the specified states that will download Tiger data, stage and load into tiger_data schema. Each state script is returned as a separate record. Latest version supports Tiger 2010 structural changes and also loads census tract, block groups, and blocks tables.
Loader_Generate_Nation_Script — Generates a shell script for the specified platform that loads in the county and state lookup tables.
Missing_Indexes_Generate_Script — Finds all tables with key columns used in geocoder joins that are missing indexes on those columns and will output the SQL DDL to define the index for those tables.
Normalize_Address — Given a textual street address, returns a composite norm_addy type that has road suffix, prefix and type standardized, street, streetname etc. broken into separate fields. This function will work with just the lookup data packaged with the tiger_geocoder (no need for tiger census data).
Pagc_Normalize_Address — Given a textual street address, returns a composite norm_addy type that has road suffix, prefix and type standardized, street, streetname etc. broken into separate fields. This function will work with just the lookup data packaged with the tiger_geocoder (no need for tiger census data). Requires address_standardizer extension.
Pprint_Addy — Given a norm_addy composite type object, returns a pretty print representation of it. Usually used in conjunction with normalize_address.
Reverse_Geocode — Takes a geometry point in a known spatial ref sys and returns a record containing an array of theoretically possible addresses and an array of cross streets. If include_strnum_range = true, includes the street range in the cross streets.
Topology_Load_Tiger — Loads a defined region of tiger data into a PostGIS Topology and transforming the tiger data to spatial reference of the topology and snapping to the precision tolerance of the topology.
Set_Geocode_Setting — Sets a setting that affects behavior of geocoder functions.

There are a couple other open source geocoders for PostGIS, that unlike tiger geocoder have the advantage of multi-country geocoding support

  • Nominatim uses OpenStreetMap gazeteer formatted data. It requires osm2pgsql for loading the data, PostgreSQL 8.4+ and PostGIS 1.5+ to function. It is packaged as a webservice interface and seems designed to be called as a webservice. Just like the tiger geocoder, it has both a geocoder and a reverse geocoder component. From the documentation, it is unclear if it has a pure SQL interface like the tiger geocoder, or if a good deal of the logic is implemented in the web interface.

  • GIS Graphy also utilizes PostGIS and like Nominatim works with OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. It comes with a loader to load OSM data and similar to Nominatim is capable of geocoding not just US. Much like Nominatim, it runs as a webservice and relies on Java 1.5, Servlet apps, Solr. GisGraphy is cross-platform and also has a reverse geocoder among some other neat features.