Capturing emergency dispatch address points as geocoding candidates to quantify delimited confidence in residential geolocation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: In response to citizens' concerns about elevated cancer incidence in their locales, US CDC proposed publishing cancer incidence at sub-county scales. At these scales, confidence in patients' residential geolocation becomes a key constraint of geospatial analysis. To support monitoring cancer incidence in sub-county areas, we presented summary metrics to numerically delimit confidence in residential geolocation.

RESULTS: We defined a concept of Residential Address Discriminant Power (RADP) as theoretically perfect within all residential addresses and its practical application, i.e., using Emergency Dispatch (ED) Address Point Candidates of Equivalent Likelihood (CEL) to quantify Residential Geolocation Discriminant Power (RGDP) to approximate RADP. Leveraging different productivity of probabilistic, deterministic, and interactive geocoding record linkage, we simultaneously detected CEL for 5,807 cancer cases reported to North Carolina Central Cancer Registry (NC CCR)- in January 2022. Batch-match probabilistic and deterministic algorithms matched 86.0% cases to their unique ED address point candidates or a CEL, 4.4% to parcel site address, and 1.4% to street centerline. Interactively geocoded cases were 8.2%. To demonstrate differences in residential geolocation confidence between enumeration areas, we calculated sRGDP for cancer cases by county and assessed the existing uncertainty within the ED data, i.e., identified duplicate addresses (as CEL) for each ED address point in the 2014 version of the NC ED data and calculated ED_sRGDP by county. Both summary RGDP (sRGDP) (0.62-1.00) and ED_sRGDP (0.36-1.00) varied across counties and were lower in rural counties (p < 0.05); sRGDP correlated with ED_sRGDP (r = 0.42, p < 0.001). The discussion covered multiple conceptual and economic issues attendant to quantifying confidence in residential geolocation and presented a set of organizing principles for future work.

CONCLUSIONS: Our methodology produces simple metrics - sRGDP - to capture confidence in residential geolocation via leveraging ED address points as CEL. Two facts demonstrate the usefulness of sRGDP as area-based summary metrics: sRGDP variability between counties and the overall lower quality of residential geolocation in rural vs. urban counties. Low sRGDP for the cancer cases within the area of interest helps manage expectations for the uncertainty in cancer incidence data. By supplementing cancer incidence data with sRGDP and ED_sRGDP, CCRs can demonstrate transparency in geocoding success, which may help win citizen trust.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Pages (from-to)25
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 26 2023


  • Attribute association
  • Candidates of equivalent likelihood
  • Confidence in residential geolocation
  • Geocoding
  • Geocoding record linkage substitution
  • Health informatics
  • Residential address discriminant power
  • Residential geolocation
  • Residential geolocation discriminant power


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