Postal address is a way of capturing and correlating physical address information. It is a way of assigning a unique spatial address to any physical or administrative element, allowing users to geocode, store and update physical addresses. Postal addresses are frequently used as part of a larger GIS database to connect physical or administrative elements with a georeferenced point.
A postal address is made up of components such as street number, street name, city, state/province, postal code, country and any other relevant information (e.g. the building name). Different countries have different methods for storing and organizing postal address information, but the basic components remain the same. Postal addresses usually correspond to a single geographic location, often provided by a Post Office or other government agency.
In GIS, postal address information can be used to model the relationship between physical elements of a city, such as streets and intersections, or to help visualize the scope of an event such as a natural disaster. It can also be used for complex queries such as finding the most efficient route to deliver parcels, create maps for taxation and voter registration, or calculate distances between locations.
For example, in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) a postal address might look like this:
297 River Street
In this example, 297 River Street is the street number, Toronto is the city, ON is the province/state, M5A1B5 is the postal code and Canada is the country. All these components are required in order to accurately locate the address on a map.