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Special addresses using Spatial Data.


By Kory Korir

With the Internet of Things and other technologies like Global Navigation Satellite systems, smarter ways of locating places and buildings are being discovered each single day. In a place like Nairobi, the majority of the population owns a smartphone which at least has a GNSS receiver and a map like google maps. This means that if given the coordinates of a place, one can easily navigate using the same coordinates.

With the advent of Google maps, Open Street maps and Here Maps, people have had a little idea on how to use them to find their places of interest. The problem with these maps is that it can be hard to navigate to a place where there are no prominent landmarks. With such, it becomes hard to find your way around.  Another problem that comes with use of these maps is that one has to be online when using them and if one is highly dependent on such, they might get stranded when they reach a place where the internet connectivity is compromised. Although there are ways one can use such maps offline, many people are oblivious of the said fact.

As the population strives to be location aware, such problems present themselves but new and innovative ways of overcoming those hurdles are being discovered. One way of solving these problem is by appending unique addresses on these buildings, homes and other places of interest by use of coordinates. Use of coordinates is demonstrated by an example below from a town in India which is planning to implement it.

Hyderabad is a town in India which is planning to use unique addresses by generating unique key numbers that will be generated using coordinates. These digital door numbers are to be used by a couple of agencies like ambulances and police officers in their line of duty.

Source: Geospatial World (https://www.geospatialworld.net/hyderabad-soon-unique-house-addresses-based-geospatial-location/).


With my initial proposal, there are a couple of concerns;

  • Creating unique addresses is revolutionary but it has some privacy concerns. As much as precision in location will have improved, malicious individuals will also have access to such information and they might use it for their malicious intents.
  • Most people are not geo-tech savvy. This means that if such addresses are to be implemented, more user friendly apps for the same should be developed to increase the acceptance of the method as a way of addressing people.
  • There should be legal frameworks and policies with regards to such addresses for it to be seamlessly adopted.
  • Implementation of such projects is a collaborative task which means that there are different stakeholders who have to be convinced to marry the idea. Internet providers, the government, private companies like Google should be kept in the loop with such kind of projects.


As much as this idea looks farfetched, Africa will soon adopt ideas in this line, of course with the right kind of legal frameworks, to help in speeding up service deliveries and many other benefits that come with innovative projects like this one.