Morrison School Bus Routes
---Geocoding in ArcGIS
In this activity students will transform a table of student bus route addresses into points on
a map. This process is known as geocoding, or address matching. This is one of the
powerful capabilities of a geographic information system! First, the students will enter
student addresses into an Excel spreadsheet. They will then create a project in ArcMap
that includes street address ranges for their school district. Next, students will add their
address table to their ArcMap document and will perform the geocoding process to turn the
addresses into points on their map. Finally, they will attempt to “re-match” any addresses
that could not be matched on their first try.
This activity is appropriate for grades 9 – 12.
This exercise can be completed in two or three 45 minute class periods, depending on the
number of student addresses.
This activity works best for Intermediate level users of ArcGIS
This activity requires ArcView 9.X and Microsoft Excel
ESRI basedata – states, counties, roads, rivers, etc.
ESRI data & maps media kit [Data CD] (2003). Redlands, Calif. ESRI.
List of student addresses
National Science Education Standards:
Content Standard A: Science as Inquiry;
Content Standard E: Understandings about Science and Technology
High School Social Studies: Geography Standards 1,2,4 and 6
Teacher’s Guide (cont.)
National Geography Standards
1 The student learns how to use maps and other geographic
representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report
information from a spatial perspective.
3 The student learns how to analyze the spatial organization of people,
places, and environments on Earth’s surface.
4 The student learns about the physical and human characteristics of
18 The student learns how to apply geography to interpret the present and
plan for the future.
Suggestions for Teachers
In this activity, the instructor creates an ArcView project.
The activity requires some familiarity with ArcView and with the processes of adding and
joining tables, creating queries and geocoding addresses. Note that this process requires
a reference theme of street addresses that contains address ranges. In this exercise,
students geocode student addresses to create a map of student locations. Alternatively,
students could use GPS units to mark the locations of student addresses.
Morrison School Bus Routes
---Geocoding in ArcGIS
In this activity, you will transform a
table of bus route addresses into
Geocoding is the process of assigning a
points on a map. This process is location, usually in the form of coordinate
known as geocoding, or address values (points), to an address by
comparing the descriptive location
matching. This is one of the elements in the address to those present
powerful capabilities of a in the reference material. Addresses come
geographic information system! in many forms, ranging from the common
address format of house number followed
by the street name and succeeding
information to other location descriptions,
such as postal zone or census tract. An
address includes any type of information
that distinguishes a place
Step 1: Open the Bus Route project in ArcMap
Launch ArcMap and choose to open an existing map. Navigate to the
C:\ESRI\Projects\Bus Routes and open the Bus Routes project.
A project has been created for you in ArcMap. It contains a number of layers
that may be useful to you as you map out the Morrison school bus routes.
The project opens with a view of the entire United States.
Step 2: Zoom into the Morrison Area
Right click on the layer called School Districts and choose Zoom to Layer.
You should now be zoomed into some of the school districts around the
Morrison area. Also make sure that the Morrison School District layer is
Step 3: Explore the Morrison streets layer
Now turn on the layer called Streets_Area. This layer contains all of the
streets in the Morrison area. This layer is very important to our bus route
project. It contains the street information that will allow us to turn our
tables of student addresses into points on a map.
Right-click on the Streets_Area layer and choose Open Attribute Table to
ppen the table for the Streets_Area layer. Scroll through the table and
look at the field names. Particularly notice the following fields:
L_F_ADD and L_T_ADD … these fields contains address ranges (street
numbers) for the left side of the street
R_F_ADD and R_T_ADD .. Address ranges for the right side of the street
NAME … this field contains the street name
Close the Streets table
Step 4: Prepare your table of student addresses for the
Before you can add your table to the Bus Route project, you must save the
table in a format that ArcView can use. Unfortunately, the version of
ArcGIS that you are using is not able to bring in Excel tables directly. You
will save it in a “dbf” or database format.
Here are the steps to follow:
Open your bus route table in Excel
Click on File/Save As
Under Save In: navigate to the C:\ESRI\Projects\Bus Routes folder
Keep the file name the same
Under “Save as type” choose DBF 4 (dbase IV) from the pull-down menu
You will receive some scary warnings and strange messages. Answer Yes
(Ask for help if needed)
Step 5: Create an Address Locator
Once your address table is ready, you can begin the process of
“geocoding” or Address Matching.
The first step in the geocoding process is to create an “Address Locator”.
An Address Locator is simply a way to set up the address matching
process so that your table of addresses can be successfully located
on a map.
Follow these steps carefully:
1. Launch ArcCatalog by clicking on the ArcCatalog icon
2. In ArcCatalog, click on the folder called Address Locators in the
table of contents. Double-click on Create new Address Locator.
3. In the “Create New Address Locator”
dialog box, choose US Streets [File] and
4. In the New US Streets box, type in Bus Routes for Name, and
Morrison Bus Routes for the Description.
5. Under Primary table, click on the browse button next to the box, and
navigate to the Streets_Area.shp file. This is the table that contains
all of the Morrison area streets. We will be using it as our reference
table. Click Add.
6. Under Fields, make sure that NAME appears next to Street Name.
Accept the defaults for all the other field information.
7. Accept the defaults for all other values.
8. Click OK to create your “Address Locator”
9. Your new “Bus Routes” address locator should appear in the table of
Step 6: Geocode your bus route table
Now you will create a point layer from your bus route table using the
address geocoding capabilities of a GIS.
Follow these steps carefully:
1. Return to your ArcMap project.
2. From the Tools menu in ArcMap, click on Geocoding, and choose
3. In the Add Address
navigate to the Bus
locator that you
just created. Click
4. Next, in the Geocode Addresses box, navigate to the bus route dbf
table that you saved in the ESRI/Projects/Bus Routes folder.
The name of the Street field will probably be “Address” depending on
what you called the field when you built your table.
Accept the defaults for the other items, and click OK. This should
initiate the geocoding process!
Step 7: Check the results of your geocoding exercise
When the geocoding process is complete, you will see a
“Review/Rematch Addresses” box. This box contains
information about how successful your geocoding exercise
Note: when we refer to “matches”, we are talking about
matching up your bus route table with the Streets_Area
We will discuss the “rematching” process later. For now,
check out your percentage of successful matches (the top
statistic). Hopefully, you successfully geocoded most of the
addresses on your bus route table. If not, don’t worry. We
will be working on fixing problems later.
For now, close the Review/Rematch Addresses box, save
your project, and exit ArcMap.