OpenStreetMap - free map data built by thousands of volunteers and contributors. Premium Address Data is raw, paid-for data - Melissa UK
OpenStreetMap is community-driven, free map data built by thousands of volunteers and contributors who maintain public data all over the world.

Premium Address Data is raw, paid-for data.

What are the Core Contrasts Between OpenStreetMap and Premium Address Data?

OpenStreetMap Premium Address Data
Starts with shapes Starts with address
Free Paid
Spatial data Flat(relational) data

As shown in the chart above, there are a few key differences between OpenStreetMap and Premium Address Data. First, OpenStreetMap starts with shapes, lines or points on a map. With Premium Address Data, the focus is on the address; it includes additional information that goes beyond mapping and spatial data. Lastly, OpenStreetMap is based around spatial data while Premium Address Data consists of flat (relational) data. While there are learning curves associated with both types of data, it has been found that most people are more comfortable working with raw data than spatial data.

The Importance of Address Accuracy

Many businesses and organisations rely on accurate address data for the services they provide. OpenStreetMap does not always include all of the information needed to qualify an address as complete and valid. For example, a street address and city may be listed, but if part of the postcode or components of the full address are missing, there is no way to verify it as a unique address or delivery point. This can present problems for businesses that require address accuracy for many types of services, such as those provided by emergency responders.

Use Case: How the City of Burbank Increased Address Accuracy with Premium Address Data

In an effort to better serve their residents and businesses, the City of Burbank looked to improve their data quality with increased address accuracy. The city relies on address accuracy for mailing public notices, permit applications, census data and emergency response situations and set out to rectify their address data issues with Premium Address Data. Unlike public data, premium data includes suite and apartment numbers, making it easier to estimate how many people reside in a building. This level of accuracy is crucial for those providing emergency response services.

To illustrate the difference in accuracy between OpenStreetMap and Premium Address Data, the following example is shown from the City of Burbank use case. The first image shows what the data looks like using OpenStreetMap:

Map Converage - Difference in accuracy between OpenStreetMap and Premium Address Data - Melissa UK

The area highlighted in blue represents the selected commercial/residential area, showing a good amount of coverage with building footprints and plotted points. However, when going a step further and trying to tie those shapes and points to actual addresses, you can see that the data is limited - little to no address data can be derived from OpenStreetMap:

Map Converage - Free OpenStreetMap Provides Partial Coverage - Melissa UK

In the next example, you can see the difference when Premium Address Data is used, as it provides almost complete coverage:

Map Converage - Paid Premium Address Data Povides Complete Coverage - Melissa UK

The City of Burbank use case represents a situation where Premium Address Data met the needs of an organization that relies heavily on comprehensive address data coverage.

Building footprints are not widely used across the country, as not all cities have the resources to offer that data. The next image shows an example of coverage in Iowa City. Here, the purple points represent the Premium Address Data, giving much more detail than OpenStreetMap.

Iowa City Coverage Example:

Map Converage - Difference between Free OpenStreetMap City Coverage and Paid Premium Address Data City Coverage - Melissa UK

OpenStreetMap & Premium Address Data Use Cases:

In cases where comprehensive coverage is not required and the user simply needs to identify a location, OpenStreetMap may be sufficient. Publicly sourced information such as parking lots, schools, cemeteries, places of worship, public transport locations, national parks, farmland and waterways can be derived from OpenStreetMap; in addition, tags are often included which include specialized and detailed information.

When comprehensive coverage is required, Premium Address Data is a better solution. With Premium Address Data, the data is address checked with benefits that include:

  • Determining whether an address is a PO Box, CMRA (Commercial Mail Receiving Agency) or PBSA (Post Office Box Street Address)
  • Algorithm processing to convert rural-style addresses to city-style addresses
  • Converting alias street names to the preferred street name

While there are many possibilities in leveraging OpenStreetMap and Premium Address Data, it is helpful to know the differences between them when deciding which one best fits your needs.

Why Melissa?

As the “Address Experts”, Melissa has helped businesses for over 35 years by providing smart solutions to clean, verify, update, match and enrich their customer data. Melissa’s Address Verification service verifies addresses at the point of entry and in batch to ensure bad data never enters your system. We combine a global knowledge database with location reference datasets for over 240 countries and territories and proprietary parsing rules to correct, validate and enrich both partial and full address inputs. Our decades of experience and expertise are why more than 10,000 customers worldwide trust Melissa to grow their business.

250+ Countries & Territories
1,000,555,787+ Addresses Verified
35+ Years
10,000+ Customers Worldwide