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How to Research a Structure

Research is the most important part of editing: We depend on volunteers to find and enter the most accurate and up to date information for each structure point, and the key to doing that is locating and referencing quality information. 

Back to: Editing | Next: How to Edit an Existing Structure

 

When researching a structure, we recommend using the following methods of locating information to verify name, address, and location: 

 

Official website of the structure in question, or another authoritative source of information

 

Local knowledge of the name, address, and location of a structure for which you are personally familiar. We do not require volunteers to only edit data in familiar areas; they can edit data (pending availability) in any part of the country in which they’re interested. We consider local knowledge to be authoritative, but if you’re editing a structure in an unfamiliar area, the same information can also be gleaned via thorough research.  

 

Visual confirmation of the name, address, and location of a structure either in person, or using online maps with on-the-ground or street level views. This can also involve identifying structures in aerial imagery or comparing aerial imagery to other images or photos of the structure in question.  

 

Phone call confirming the name, address, and location of the structure in question. We do not require volunteers to make phone calls, this is only one potential option for quickly verifying information about a structure. You do not need to make phone calls if this is not something you are comfortable with. However, if you'd like to, check out the following resources for guidance and scripts: 

    • Cold Contacting Sources

      Volunteers collecting data for The National Map Corps are not required to make phone calls, use email, or make in-person visits to contact authoritative resources. However, online methods may occasionally come up short for identifying location or address information for a structure. So, if it’s something you’re comfortable doing, cold contacting can be a great way to get the information you need.

      link

      Cold Contacting Sources

      Volunteers collecting data for The National Map Corps are not required to make phone calls, use email, or make in-person visits to contact authoritative resources. However, online methods may occasionally come up short for identifying location or address information for a structure. So, if it’s something you’re comfortable doing, cold contacting can be a great way to get the information you need.

      Learn More
    • Checking Multiple Imagery Sources

      While editing, you may default to using one of the background imagery layers more than the others. Each may have different benefits, as well as limitations, depending on the situation and location. This is why it is often a good idea to check multiple layers while researching a point location.  

      link

      Checking Multiple Imagery Sources

      While editing, you may default to using one of the background imagery layers more than the others. Each may have different benefits, as well as limitations, depending on the situation and location. This is why it is often a good idea to check multiple layers while researching a point location.  

      Learn More

For more specific and detailed guidance regarding the research process, please refer to our newsletters and the Q&A page 

NOTE: Before adding a new point to the map, make sure a point doesn’t already exist for the structure in question. If a point does exist, check its name, address, and location and update if needed. If a point needs to be moved to a different location, first make sure a duplicate doesn’t exist at the new location, and if not, click and drag the existing point to the new location. Do not delete and then recreate a point in a new location.  

 

When checking for existing points, keep in mind that the search engine in the TNMCorps editor WILL NOT capture all current points on the map or find all addresses. If a result is not returned, DO NOT assume that what you are searching for does not exist.  

 

The Address or Place search functionality in the TNMCorps editor generates results sourced from ESRI Geocoder. It's meant to be used as a blunt instrument for zooming to a general area of interest on the map, or to a specific address since the source information is geocoded (based on address information, not a geographic coordinate system). 

 

If you're looking to zoom to a specific location, it's better to search for a set of coordinates, or a complete address. That said, the pins dropped by the geocoder do not represent the official locations of any populated places or other features recorded in GNIS or represented on any USGS products. Again, the geocoder is just one of several search tools we utilize in the TNMCorps editor. It's useful in some contexts, but not all.

 

The search tool should only be used to get a general idea of the structure feature's location. Use an official website or other acceptable source to determine the final name, address, and location of a structure.