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The FFIEC is the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Geocoding is a practice in which standardized tabular data is matched to a specific location on the Earth using established coordinates. FFIEC Geocoding System is a specialized system of geocoding that was developed primarily for use by certain financial institutions to meet reporting requirements. It is, however, used by others to obtain demographic information, such as data about population and income.
The FFIEC Geocoding System was created primarily for financial institutions that need to report under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). All of the information that the system provides is based on street addresses. One can use it to find Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), State, and County information, as well as Census Tract code.
The interface of the FFIEC Geocoding System is set up to work with street addresses combined either with city and state information, on the one hand, or a ZIP code, on the other. All fields are not required, and apartment numbers must be omitted. It is important to enter the exact street name accurately: substitutions such as road for street or avenue will not work. In addition, P.O. Boxes and Rural Routes will fail.
Failures can also occur for other reasons. For example, the database of geocode information that the FFIEC Geoding System is based on may not have information for street addresses if they were added more recently. In addition, the system may give inaccurate information when there are switches in the post office responsible for mail delivery or any case in which the post office that delivers the mail does not match the ZIP code of the actual street address. In this case, the system may fail by providing the wrong MSA and census information.
If the FFIEC Geocoding System fails by not recognizing an address, there is a backup in place. An area street map is displayed, and by using a zoom feature, one may locate the cross streets nearest the address, allowing the user to find the appropriate census tract codes. Census tract maps and additional tools available at the United States Census Bureau site can provide further assistance, and serve as an additional backup.
It is important for the correct operation of the system that the appropriate date be chosen. There are three years’ worth of data to choose from. If geocoding data is needed for a year that is not an available choice, the information may be invalid.