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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This guide is for students and faculty to learn GIS and integrate GIS in their research and curriculum.


Geocoding is the process of transforming a description of a location—such as a pair of coordinates, an address, or a name of a place—to a location on the earth's surface. You can geocode by entering one location description at a time or by providing many of them at once in a table. The resulting locations are output as geographic features with attributes, which can be used for mapping or spatial analysis.

You can quickly find various kinds of locations through geocoding. The types of locations that you can search for include points of interest or names from a gazetteer, like mountains, bridges, and stores; coordinates based on latitude and longitude or other reference systems, such as the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) or the U.S. National Grid system; and addresses, which can come in a variety of styles and formats, including street intersections, house numbers with street names, and postal codes.


Batch geocoding is the calculation of multiple addresses into their corresponding X and Y coordinates for easy displaying within GIS. While you can create an Address Locator in ArcGIS Desktop using reference data, the corresponding results will be based on the quality of the reference data used. This guide will describe two free batch geocoders that operate externally of any GIS application and return the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Bing Maps Platform API

  • Bing Maps provides a mapping API (application programming interface) allowing developers to make batch geocode requests. 50,000 geocoding requests made for education or non-profit services per day is permitted. (See Microsoft® Bing™ Maps Platform APIs’ Terms Of Use).
  • A Bing Maps API Key is required to geocode addresses. Sign up for a free key here:
    • When creating the key, you can use this image   as a guide.
  • Bing Maps uses Navteq as their street and geocode service provider.
  • The Bing Maps API geocode service returns coordinates using WGS84.
  • Free Applications that use the Bing Maps Platform API:
    • Excel Geocoder Tool: Download an Excel file containing the macros necessary to batch geocode your addresses.
    • GPS Visualizer: No download necessary. Copy/paste from your Excel sheet into the web form.

TAMU GeoServices

  • Texas A&M GeoServices provides free batch geocoding, reverse geocoding, and address standardization. Free registration is required.
  • After geocoding is complete, a verification email is sent to the email used during registration. After geocoding is complete, downad results here:
  • Texas A&M Geoservices uses TIGER 2010 as their street and address locator reference file.
  • Results of this geocoding service returns coordinates using NAD83.