"Piecing Together the Address Puzzle." By Mabel Grein (Senior Computer Systems Analyst, USPS, Information Technology). Outline of 21 slides. Presented December 13, 2001 at the Second Annual ECCMA General Membership Conference, December 12-13, 2001. Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Similar presentation given April 16, 2001 at the GCA Spring 2001 Addressing/Distribution Conference. This outline was generated from the original Powerpoint document.

Piecing Together The Address Puzzle

Topics Covered

n     Quick history

n     Where we are today

n     Attribute Extraction

n     Thanks



Have You Ever Seen These Symptoms?

n   Systems that collect similar information but cannot communicate with each other

n   Screens that are designed to collect a specific type of data without consideration of all the differences within that type of data

n   The address information collected exceeds the space available on the output medium

Poorly Designed Data Collection

Attention name:  Mr. Abdula Hasim  

Company name:  International Communication Sdn. Bhd                                             

Address line 1   :  Wisma International                                             

Address line 2   :  Lot 10, 9/5 Jalan Paku                                            

City                    :  49200 KAJANG                          

State                   :  Selangor              

ZIP Code          :  Malaysia



Will the Address Fit? 

          Percy Silverstone Smythe-Jones

          The Family Jewelry Ltd

          Fieldstone Cottage on the Thames

          98765 South Wuthering Heights Road



          Ha8 9xg



Address Collection

Addresses have historically been collected in strung address lines as presented by the addressee or their representative. 

When entered into the database in this fashion it is hard to analyze the data and it permits little control or intelligence in the presentation.

What is the Relationship?

One wouldn’t set out to build a database without identifying the contents of the rows and columns, yet, most address information is entered without knowing  what parts of an address will be in which column.  This is especially important with international addresses where the address formats and languages may be unfamiliar.

Parsing is the Answer

By breaking the address components down to their lowest logical level you can build an intelligent database.

But how do you put the addresses back together?

Templates for Reassembly

Templates outline where the address elements should be placed to rebuild the address.

Data Interchange Standards Association

In 1996 the USPS began working  with industry leaders and the Data Interchange Standards Association on an EDI standard (TS-101) for domestic name and address lists.






The USPS and mailing industry leaders began work on the international address standard, PROLST, in 1999.

We presented our work for the first time at the UN/EDIFACT meeting in March 2000 at the Paris EDIFACT Work Group (EWG) meeting. 

PROLST gains MID status

PROLST was approved as a UN/EDIFACT Message In Development (MID) in March 2000.


PROLST Status Today

The Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA) -  International Address Element Code (IAEC) tables used by PROLST have been propagated with all the US domestic, and some international, elements.

The eight templates identified for USPS addresses are outlined in the White Paper published on the ECCMA web site.

Universal Postal Union Efforts

 In January 2001 the USPS  and Joe Lubenow representing the GCA and the UPU-DMAB joined forces, prepared and presented documents for two standards proposals (Status P) for the UPU.  The purpose of these proposals was to:

          Collect address elements

          Create EDI and XML messages

Where We Are Today

n   The International Address Work Group has officially met twice in 2001 and will meet again in conjunction with the UPU standards board meeting in January 2002.  The group includes major mailers, domestic and international address software companies, and representatives from the UPU and a number of Posts.


Sample of the IAEC Element Entries


001       10           000                    Physical Address Component

006       10           002                    House number           

012       10           008                    Mailstop        

013       10           009                    Street name

002       11           000                    Name Component    

046       11           002                    Primary honorific        

047       11           003                    Primary given name    

048       11           004                    Primary first middle name

049       11           005                    Primary second middle name

050       11           006                    Primary family name


Sample Address Template

Sample Tagged Data


006 1233          

013 M

014 ST

015 SW


024 IA

029 52404

030 1257          

046 MR.           

047 JOSHUA    


XML Implementation Example

n     <!ELEMENT house.number (#PCDATA)>

n     <!ATTLIST house.number

n         code (6) #IMPLIED

n      >

n     <!ELEMENT prefix.street.direction (#PCDATA)>

n     <!ATTLIST prefix.street.direction

n         code (142) #IMPLIED

n        >

n     <!ELEMENT street.name (#PCDATA)>

n     <!ATTLIST street.name

n         code (13) #IMPLIED

The Next Step

As international address element and template information is gathered by the UPU this information will be added to the ECCMA - IAEC tables.  Eventually, we hope that this work will reflect the addresses of all of the world Posts.  


Many thanks are owed to Alan Morse of Triplex Direct Marketing, Peter Benson of Resolvenet, Frank Montague of  R.R. Donnelley,  Joe Lubenow of Lubenow and Associates, Noel Wickham of Experian, Phil Thompson of Quad/Graphics, the GCA ADIS subcommittee, the folks from DISA, the United Nations/EDIFACT Work Group Purchasing Subcommittee and the UPU standards board.