USPS address validation and standardization

Slate provides real-time and batched validation and standardization of addresses submitted either interactively or non-interactively.

Interactive Validation and Standardization

When an address is provided on a form, application, or administrative data entry page, the address is validated and standardized with the USPS immediately upon submission. This validation and standardization happens interactively, meaning that if the USPS returns that the address is unverifiable or ambiguous, the user is prompted to make the requested corrections. If ignored, the submission continues without modification, unless the address was ambiguous and the USPS can provide additional standardization. If the address is verifiable, the address is immediately standardized according to USPS formatting. For example, "123 Main Street" will become "123 Main St", along with other changes to match the USPS desired formatting.

Important Note: It is a known issue that a for tremendously small group of cities (such as West Des Moines), the USPS will provide a city abbreviation as well (such as WDM). This data comes directly from the USPS, and although it is "correct," we are investigating workarounds.

The standardization process will correct or fill in the street, city, state, and 9-digit postal codes. When standardized, the [quality] field on the [address] table will be set to 0. If the user selects to "skip validation," the quality will be set to 1.

Batch Standardization

When addresses come in through non-interactive sources, such as through uploaded datasets, the addresses are loaded with a [quality] rating of 2, indicating that the address is awaiting standardization.

Every evening, or upon demand as initiated by an administrator via the Database using the "Scrub Address Records" function, addresses with a [quality] rating of 2 will seek to be standardized. If they can be successfully standardized, the [quality] is updated to 0. If not, the [quality] is updated to 1.

Because addresses may not validate for a variety of reasons, the addresses are not marked explicitly as "invalid" (as designated with a [quality] rating of 3) as part of this batched process.

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