Vanity Addresses

June 28, 2011

Geographic Naming

A vanity address is where people make use of an address which may ‘sound nice’ but does not really represent the building’s true physical location.  (You might enjoy this article about New York where ‘address peacocking’ is both an art form and, more disturbingly, a business).

Maybe a building does have correct addressing, but for prestige, legacy or some other reasons a different address is used by the tenants or occupants.  Sometimes they may conduct correspondence, and arrange for services using the name of the adjoining  locality or a more ‘prestigious’ street facing a different side of the building.

The full scale of  ‘vanity addresses’ is Australia is one of those “unknown unknowns”…. but does impact on emergency response. Having the VicMap and Council data technically ‘correct’ is of little use if the residents and owners are using a different address. The issue of occupants using incorrect addresses (even in some cases building owners displaying incorrect addresses) flows through into other datasets. This can include, for example:

  •  the address that alarm companies record as the service address, then pass back to ESTA
  •  the addresses provided to Vicroads and to utilities.

I think that there needs to be agreement in how these will be handled as a wider issue, because in practice when dealing with, for example an established Shopping Centre, Alpine Resort Properties or Apartment Buildings it has proven a very difficult and contentious issue. There can be multiple stakeholders involved and it is a long and protracted process for individual Councils to negotiate with building management and occupants.


About yvonnert

Extensive experience working in government spatial data infrastructure. Over ten years as a bridge maker in emergency services, with strong partnering skills providing leadership for spatial information strategy.

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