In many cases, an address is the most natural and accurate way to specify the location of something. Knowing where things happen is important as we all know. It is not a coincidence that we see ourselves often entering an address when completing a form. Now, working with addresses has its own challenges: How do you avoid typos? How can you tell the postal code was entered correctly? How do you add address data into a map reliably? The address question type in Survey123 is specifically designed to help you collect addresses with confidence and map your survey responses without effort.
In this blog, I will describe how you, as a survey author, can get the best out of the address question in Survey123 web designer. If you use Survey123 Connect to design your surveys, I suggest you read Survey123 Tricks of the Trade: Addresses, and the XLSForm geocode appearance.
Addresses deserve their own question type! Here is why the Address question rocks:
The address question type is available in the Survey123 web designer. To get started, add this question into your survey design as shown in the animation below.
After you set the label of your question and optionally its hint, an important decision to make is what data you want to submit:
The autocomplete feature of the address question is critical to ensure the best experience for the respondent and the highest quality possible for your data. The smarter you can make the autocomplete behavior, the happier respondents will be and the better data you will get.
Address questions are powered by either the ArcGIS World Geocoding service or your own locator. They both provide a well-known collection of addresses that will be used to support the autocomplete feature in the form.
In the animation below, the locator has been configured to find addresses anywhere in the world. Note that as the user starts entering the address, the list of candidates includes addresses from various countries.
In the next animation, the same address is entered but the list of candidates is restricted to the city of Redlands. This is because the locator is configured to only look for addresses in Redlands, California.
Restricting your locator to limit address candidates within your area of interest is always a good practice. A more accurate list of candidates is a first step toward better quality data.
Address questions leverage your organization's geocoding service. If you want the Survey123 address question to filter addresses by country or area, you need to configure your organization's geocoding service accordingly.
In many cases, administrators use the ArcGIS World Geocoding service. If that is the case, you can create a new locator view to tailor the geocoding behavior. As soon as you configure your organization to use that locator view as the geocoding service, your Survey123 address questions will start limiting addresses accordingly.
To configure your organization's geooding service check this help topic.
Please note that the use of the ArcGIS World Geocoding service for the purpose of finding addresses to store their location in a feature layer is subject to ArcGIS Online credit consumption. Check the credits consumption by capability section in the ArcGIS Online help.
While it is great to collect complete addresses as text in a single field, you may want to split out and store certain address properties separately such as the country, city or postal code. Having this information in separate fields gives you extra flexibility to query your survey records and create live dashboards and maps.
Using the Survey123 designer, you can add new questions to your form and automatically calculate them to persist these address properties.
Here is a step-by-step quick guide to show you how it's done. Say for example, you want to extract the postal code out of the address and store it in a separate hidden question:
The animation below shows the steps as well.
You can use this technique to extract the latitude, longitude, country code, city, postal code, the geocoding match score, the match address, and the user input text. Most of these properties are self-explanatory, but here are some additional details:
I really like to use calculations as described above. They help keep the survey design simple for end users, and at the same time generate a great data model.
If you ever need to collect an address, you should consider the use of the address question. While you can collect address information using plain text questions, the address question will keep your survey design simpler, will improve and accelerate the user experience of respondents, and will help you collect better quality data.
In cases where you currently use a map to collect a location, the address question could also be a great alternative. While maps let you collect location data, when it comes to defining a location through an address there is nothing simpler and better than just typing the address. If you worry about web accessibility, the address question is a better option than the map question type.
Having said this, you will not always be able to replace a map with an address question; sometimes, people need to pinpoint a location away from an address in a map. In some counties there is not a good address system in place, etc.
There are plenty of good uses for the address question. I encourage you to experiment with it to learn in more detail everything it can offer to you.
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