Postal Code Conversion File
Provider: Pitney Bowes Business Insight
The Postal Code Conversion File [PCCF] provides geographic linkages [concordance] to all standard levels of Canadian geography – postal, electoral, and census. The file enables users to locate customers quickly and easily by linking a postal code point to the most representative ground location. The PCCF is that starting point that spatially empowers customer, market and site analysis.
The PCCF contains over 998,000 postal code records. This file is created from GDT’s Enhanced PCCF (EPCCF) along with Statistics Canada’s PCCF. Utilizing Dynamap/Canada coverage, and GDT’s Matchmaker DG (Canada) Geocoder, GDT has improved the location of over 704,000 of postal code records in the database.
The six character postal code is linked with all levels of the 2001 standard census geography. A latitude/longitude coordinate is provided for easy mapping and demographic analysis of customer records.
The PCCF is maintained in a geographic projection under North American Datum 1983 (NAD83) using the Canadian National Topographic (CNT) conversion method.
Unique vs. Multiple
The standard deliverable is a single database containing both unique and multiple postal code records. Out of the 998,000+ records, there are about 843,000 unique and 154,000 multiple postal codes.
Unique – These records are the most representative point for each postal code in Canada. They may be used as the “one and only” location, or the best location of a number of multiple locations. Most clients will use this file for postal geocoding. There are a total of 843,649 unique postal code records.
Usage example: Customer sales for a postal code is $100. The user will assign all $100 in sales to the Unique or “best” location for that particular postal code.
Multiple – These records represent those postal codes that have multiple locations. The “best” location is flagged in the Sng_fsaldu field, and the rest of the locations are placed in the Multiple file. This file is useful for assigning attributes associated with a single postal code across a number of locations. There are a total of 160.515 multiple postal code records.
Usage Example: If customer sales for a postal code is $100, and three locations exist in the file for the postal code (one Unique or “best” location, two Multiple locations), the user may wish to assign $60 in sales to the best location and $20 each to the Multiple locations. This or any other application-appropriate weighting can be used.
Placement of postal codes in unique or multiple locations effect aggregation of sales data by Dissemination Area or any other boundary area.
- Fsaldu: FSALDU (6 character Postal Code)
- Fsa_ldu: FSALDU (6 character Postal Code with space separator)
- Prcdda: 2001 Dissemination Area
- Latitude: Latitude Coordinate
- Longitude: Longitude Coordinate
- Sng_fsaldu (1): Single Postal Code Indicator
- Pr: 2001 Province Code
- Prcd: 2001 Census Division Code
- Prcdcsd: 2001 Census Subdivision Code
- Csdname: 2001 Census Subdivision Name
- Csdtype: 2001 Census Subdivision Type
- Ccs: 2001 Census Consolidated Subdivision Code
- Sac (2): Statistical Area Classification Code (includes CMA/CA 001-995)
- Sactype (3): Statistical Area Classification Type
- Cmact: 2001 Census Tract Code
- Ctname: 2001 Census Tract Name
- Cmaca: 2001 Census Metropolitan/Agglomeration Area
- Er: 2001 Economic Region code
- Dpl: 2001 Designated Place code
- Uara: Urban Area Rural Area Code
- Uaratype (4): Urban Area Rural Area Type
- Centroid (5): Representative Point Flag (Centroid Flag)
- Type (6): Postal Code Type
- Community: Community Name (Canada Post Definition)
- Dmt (7): Delivery Mode Type
- H_dmt: Historic Delivery Mode Type
- Birth: Birth Date
- Retired: Retired Date
- Fsa: Forward Sortation Area (first 3 digits of Postal Code)
- Prfed96: 1996 Federal Electoral District Number
- Fed96_name: 1996 Federal Electoral District Name
- Multiple (8): Multiple FSALDU Indicator
Links to Census Geographies
Postal and Census Link
The primary goal of using the PCCF is to link a postal code point to census geography. This linkage is maintained between the FSALDU and the Dissemination Area (DA). The DA polygon is the lowest level in the census hierarchy, so once the link to the FSALDU is made all other census levels can be determined.
In some cases a postal code may serve customers in more than one DA. In order to portray all postal – census links, we need to create multiple records to maintain all FSALDU-DA relationships. This is a limitation of linking postal and census geography. There are two examples of this phenomenon: block face based and DA centroid based assignment.
Block Face Assignments
In most cases, block face assignment results in a single point location representing all households along an uninterrupted street segment. Dense block face assignments in urban areas follow the familiar grid pattern of streets and provide a very useful geocoding tool.
However, very long block faces may cross DA boundaries. In order to ensure that all postal code delivery locations are linked to their respective DA polygons, multiple points are created along the block face.
DA Centroid Assignment, Multiple Points
DA centroid assignments are a representation of postal code delivery location where no block face information exists. This is typical of urban fringe areas where street addressing is being updated, or in rural areas where street address ranges do not exist. These areas are characterized by very large DA polygons. Relatively few rural FSALDUs exist, serving a number of towns, villages and unincorporated areas.
FSALDUs are placed on the DA centroid as the best point location to describe a wide extent for mail delivery. Where the extent covers multiple DA polygons, multiple points are created for a single FSALDU.
If there are multiple (non block faced) postal codes associated with individual DA polygons, their position may also be DA geographic centroid based, which may cause two or more different postal codes to occupy the same coordinates.
The Enhanced Postal Code Conversion File (EPCCF) is created by GDT Canada using current data from Canada Post and Statistics Canada. GDT Canada creates addresses from a Canada Post database that consists of postal codes and their corresponding address range(s). These addresses are geocoded using Dynamap® Canada to place the points at street-level accuracy. Dissemination Area (DA) codes are then assigned to each geocoded postal code. The geocoded file is combined with the latest Statistics Canada PCCF file where the postal codes are matched to the corresponding attributes. These attributes include, but are not limited to Statistical Area Type, Urban/Rural Code, Delivery Mode, FSA Assignment, and other geography assignments. Postal Codes that cannot be geocoded will get their location from Statistics Canada’s July 2004 PCCF file (Types 1, 2 and 3 centroids).
GDT Canada also reduces the number of multiples. For a range, discrete addresses are generated (e.g., range 1 -99 will have discrete addresses 1, 3, 9, etc.). If all the points fall within the same DA, GDT Canada creates one point using the median location of all the points. If a set of points fall in another DA, the same process is used to create a second point, resulting in one postal code point per DA. An additional field, “multiple”, was added to the EPCCF file to flag multiple postal code points. Also added was the Single Postal Code Indicator, Sng_fsaldu, to help users determine if the selected postal code is unique and the most representative within a series of multiple points. MapInfo Canada further enhanced/reassigned over 1,500 postal codes that were Street coded, Block and/or Dissemination Area (DA) centroids. StreetPro 7.3 in combination with historical EPCCF data were used to manually geocode/assign these postal codes.
MapInfo Canada has eliminated over 458,000 multiple (Multiple = Y) postal codes and reassigned over 30,400 of these postal codes to a “unique” (Multiple = N) representation. The objective behind this was to reduce the redundant number of FSALDU to DA assignments. The methodology incorporated the importance of the FSALDU, DA, Community and Centroid Type assignments within the EPCCF. The 1996 and 2003 Federal Electoral Districts (FED) are also included as a geographic link in the EPCCF. (Please Note: 1996 and 2003 FED boundaries are not a standard level of census geography.)
When linking the EPCCF to other files (i.e., geocoding client postal codes) users should be aware that there are multiple records in the file. When using the EPCCF file users should link to the postal codes that bear the “Single Postal Code Indicator” of 1. Please see User Information section of this document for a full explanation.
The 2001 postal code conversion file development process that originated from Statistics Canada has produced some cases of reduced data quality. A part of the process generated cases where a postal code was assigned to all blocks along a road. This occurred when a postal code could be geo-coded to a road but not a specific address. The system then assigned the postal code to all blocks linked to the 2001 road identifier. In some cases, especially if the road was very long, this process was not ideal and has resulted in poorer data quality. This issue has been acknowledged by Statistics Canada and will be improved for future releases. To address the excessive number of multiple postal codes in the EPCCF, MapInfo Canada eliminated over 458,000 multiple postal codes via methods described above. When linking the EPCCF to other files (i.e., geocoding client postal codes) users should be aware that there are 33 records in the file falling in the water. These are postal codes falling in DA’s with no polygon information. Statistics Canada did not provide polygon information for 69 DA’s in the Census 2001 Boundary File. Approximately 1,400 of the new postal codes in this file do not have assigned values in the Dmt, H_Dmt, Birth and Retired fields.
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