Co-operative Address Database Proposal


Last week in Miami we delivered a speech on the need for addressing systems at Triangle’s Mail and Express Americas conference. This will be posted together with slides later this week.

After the speech, the logistics manager of one of the express companies with substantial business to Latin America asked me if I knew of COA and data hygiene tools for the region.  I admitted that there was very little out there because the governments either don’t have address systems, or have the data but won’t release it.

I’m happy to be educated if I’m wrong, but I only know of Argentina and Brazil, and the latter is very tight with it. ( I have since learned from Loqate that they have data also for Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia.)

I asked how many companies served these regions and I was surprised to learn that there are “a lot”.  Which reminded me of what has been done in other industries.  It’s called “co-opetition”, or co-operating with the competition.  The best example is the catalog industry’s co-op database.  Co-op members, competitors all, contribute to a data company (now Epsilon) the name, address, and kind of purchase of their customers.  The purchases are generic in description: apparel, auto, vacations, etc.  Contributing members can draw on the database for prospects to mail to.  The manager of the database gets compensated by all members, who make up the rules. No member knows the exact purchases made by the prospects it draws, or who the contributor was.

Would a co-operative address database like this work in the express industry for address data?  Would it work in the postal business across borders of countries with systems, but no databases?  It would not be used for marketing leads, but for address hygiene. Everyone contributes name and address of latest successful deliveries, and can query the database on undeliverables to look for a COA, or in advance if an address looks odd.  The hit rate would improve with time. For many countries, this might become a “crowd-sourced” address system.

Moreover, in countries without “standardized” address systems and forms, perhaps the ongoing collection of examples of addresses from individual countries could serve as proof of “templates” of addresses that could be suggested to countries as starting points to developed systemized address databases. After all, if you want to insure people will use their addresses correctly, why not look to how they are using them “by instinct”.

We’ve posed this thought to the GADA Steering Committee and will post the thoughtful responses we have received. We welcome thoughts and comments. All you need to do is register!

Charles Prescott

Categories : Uncategorized


  1. Merrry Law says:

    The UPU’s Post*Code database lists 12 of 19 Latin American countries as having either A or B level verification. I am skeptical about a couple of those 12.

    Talking about addresses only, I agree the problem is that the countries don’t have address systems, which means addresses are not in a fixed format and are changeable. Door colors are used and change; “major” landmarks used might vary, street names are not set, etc. (The Costa Rican presentation that discusses their new address system has some examples of previous addresses that illustrate the point.) I don’t see how address hygiene can be done without some idea what the address should look like and what might be correct or incorrect addressing. So, I think the addresses will be too free-form for hygiene in many of the countries.

    Beyond addresses, would there be privacy or other legal issues involved in any of these countries?

    There are some people in this group who are much more expert in computer address issues than I am and I will be interested in whether they think it’s possible. If this is possible, I certainly know some companies that would be interested in it.

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