Your spatial data might be lying to you. Zip code is the most common piece of geo-data analysts and data scientists see, but it has many quirks that can derail your analysis and lead to false conclusions. We'll look at the zip code and learn exactly what it is - and what it isn't. To do this we'll take a look at how a piece of mail get from point A to point B and take very quick trip though the history of the U.S. postal system before looking at other data you can collect that may be more appropriate for spatial purposes than zip code. Then we'll turn our attention to other ways seemingly good spatial data can lie to you: trap streets and paper towns.
Peter Lenz is a geographer and data scientist with Dstillery, a programmatic advertising company that builds audience profiles from petabytes of data. Specializing in geographic big data and spatial storytelling, Peter can dive anywhere into the data pipeline from writing code, training models, discovering insights in the data. He built up his geography skills working in the urban planning world, first at a consulting firm and later with the National Park Service at Yosemite National Park. A native of New York City, today he lives in Westchester county with his wife Leah and son Elliot. He plays the concertina and bodhran and loves gardening.