Smarty

"Ludicrous Speed": Where We Get Our Address-Processing Superpowers

A guy speeding in a toy car

Whether you're looking for geocodes, address validation, autocomplete, or a new license from the DMV, you probably want your results quickly. While nothing can really be done about the DMV, something can be done about how fast you get your data back when you process an address. Here at Smarty, we're always working to improve our already-awesome address processing engine, so we can get things back to you faster than a speeding bullet.

Our SLA guarantees lightning-fast response times, not including external network latency (like we said above—we can do something about our speed, but not the speed of other things like your internet or the DMV). Look, when we say fast, we really mean fast. When we say lighting fast we mean lighting fast. Take this for example: while other top providers cap you anywhere from 60-160 queries per second, here at Smarty, we have customers routinely running 10,000 addresses per second. Thats basically lighting fast! And our speed is reliable; we promise a 99.98% uptime.

For ease of use we have link some useful tools just below that we mention throughout this article:

US & International Address Validation US Rooftop Geocoding US Street Address API

Here is what we're gonna go over:

Quick Answer

In short, we have plans available of up to 75,000 records per second. That means we can validate 193,000,000 US delivery points in under 45 minutes. Or we can process your database of 1,500,000 addresses in less time than it would take Michael Phelps to count his gold medals.


SLA Uptime Guarantee

SLA Response Time

Speed

US Street Address API

99.98%

99.98% of responses within 500ms - over a 5-minute period

Plans with speeds of up to 75,000+ per second available

US Autocomplete Pro API

99.00% responses within 500ms - over a 5-minute period

Plans with speeds of up to 75,000+ per second available

US ZIP Code API

99.00% responses within 500ms - over a 5-minute period

Plans with speeds of up to 75,000+ per second available

US Address Extract API

99.00% responses within 1000ms over a 5-minute period)

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US Reverse Geocoding API

99.00% responses within 1000ms - over a 5-minute period

Plans with speeds of up to 75,000+ per second available

International Street Address API

99.00% of responses within 1000ms - over a one-month period


International Address Autocomplete

99.00% of responses within 1000ms - over a 5-minute period


We're betting that you're curious how we do that, considering most other places will take anywhere from half an hour to four business days to give you your results. Well, the short answer is that we were once struck by lightning and granted super speed, and now we spend our day's processing addresses and our nights fighting crime.

As for the long answer, let us explain:

  1. We're fast because we designed our systems from the very beginning to be fast.

  2. Other service providers are slow because they put up roadblocks to slow you down on purpose.

  3. There may be a slowdown on your end-if you're stealing your neighbor's crappy WiFi or you're using your Uncle Stan's Windows '95 desktop, that's on you.

  4. Smarty's tools are easily implemented and come with so much documentation you'll get flashbacks to college textbooks!

It's as simple as that. We're fast because we have made that our priority. We came to the table and said, "What if we made a good product and made it fast? " And we stand by that original intent. We make good products and provide them at incredible, some might even say, ludicrous speeds!

Smarty's Super Speed Explained

The speed you want out of address processing services like address validation/verification and geocoding can easily be compared to the speed you want when you drive from place to place. And because we like things to be easy here at Smarty, we're going to do that.

Let's imagine that your address processing journey is a trip on the freeway. You drive up the ramp and onto the freeway, navigate appropriately through traffic, then take the off-ramp toward your destination. Car size, speed limit, number of lanes, traffic levels, and distance to destination all affect the speed at which you complete your trip. These are all features similar to attributes that can make your trip down Validation Lane either faster or slower.

Woman stuck in traffic

How Far is Your Destination?

This one is entirely inside your control because you're the one who picks it. If you're just headed down the street, then great. If you're headed all the way to Anchorage, Alaska, you're going to run out of freeway long before you run out of road. The point here is if you're traveling a long distance, you can't expect to arrive there after a 15-minute drive.

How does this relate to our topic of doing things like performing a geocode lookup for an address? Simple: it's like asking yourself just what kind of services you need. Some geocoder services offer more comprehensive data and services. Some can even give you things like email address information for the people living there or average climate and weather patterns for the area.

Sure, it's cool to have the census data regarding the locations you have addresses for. But do you really need it? And do you need it enough to justify the three days it's going to take for your 10,000 addresses to come back to you? That difference in work to be done is like an addition in distance to be traveled-an increase in either work or distance means an increase in the time it takes.

Part of the reason we're so fast at Smarty is because we've narrowed our focus. We do international and US address verification and US rooftop geocoding. We provide some supplemental data beyond that because we like being helpful and throwing in extra stuff, but these services are the core of what we do.

Not every provider does what we do. Differences in how they offer validation or what version of geocodes they return affect their speed. So choosing a provider that does more or who provides data that takes an unnecessarily long amount of time to put together is like choosing to do your grocery shopping at a store that's three towns over instead of down the street-it's going to take longer.

Here's a brief breakdown of why our address validation and geocoding can be done so fast.

Address Validation

What is address validation? Address validation involves using an address database like the one kept with the USPS to verify if a particular address is real. You check the address in question against the authoritative database, and if it's on the list, it's valid. This process is relatively simple-and thus really quick-because all you're doing is trying to find a match. You hold up your address and say, "Is this bad boy on file? " and we look at the list and give you either a thumbs up or a thumbs down. That's the gist of it, anyway.

However, in order to compare your address to the address in the database, both your input and the addresses in the database have to be formatted the same way. That way, they'll actually match each other; if they didn't match, the address wouldn't validate. So addresses are standardized and then validated, meaning they 're reformatted to meet the specifications of the database they are being checked against. Misspelled words are corrected, capitalization and abbreviations are set straight, and missing data is filled in if possible. If you ask real nice, we may even parse it for you.

Who are we kidding; we're gonna parse it for you anyway.

The point is, what we're doing is a set system, and we've designed our process such that we can accomplish all of these tasks quickly and accurately-from address standardization and parsing to validating and geocoding. We use the databases and the format guides to our best advantage, and the result is a wicked-fast processing speed.

Geocoding & Reverse Geocoding

Geocoding is a fun little matching game where you connect a physical/mailing address to GPS lat/long coordinates. Reverse geocoding is that same matching game in reverse. The purpose is so that you can do things like use your Google Maps app on your phone to navigate to that new steakhouse you heard about from a friend. It's a good thing to pair with address validation because if the address is valid, that means the location actually exists, so the geocode won't lead you to the middle of a cornfield.

If you haven't tried Smarty's hyper-accurate geocoder, now would be a good time to give our US Rooftop Geocoding free demo a test drive.

The thing is, there are two levels of geocode accuracy that we offer: "ZIP+4 centroid " accurate and "rooftop level " accurate. A ZIP+4 Code indicates a specific USPS delivery route. These delivery routes consist of ten to twenty homes or locations. "ZIP+4 level " geocodes are obtained by finding the geographic center of ZIP+4 delivery routes. Geocodes of this type are generally accurate to within a block of the desired address.

"Rooftop level " geocodes are obtained first by acquiring something called a parcel centroid geocode. This geocode is the geographic center of a plot of land or parcel. From there, additional data points and calculations are added to identify the actual rooftop of the primary structure on the parcel.

Rooftop-level geocodes are more complicated to calculate reliably and are thereby more expensive. ZIP+4 geocodes rely on fewer data points and calculations, so they're cheaper.

At Smarty, we can provide ZIP+4 geocodes or true rooftop geocodes according to your accuracy needs. But we also validate, which means we never give you a geocode for an address that isn't real. Moreover, it means we don't have any geocodes on file that aren't tied to a real address. That means all the rooftop codes are already on file; they've been refined in advance.

So when you validate an address with us, and we tell you that everything's hunky dory and hand you a geocode telling you exactly where the place is, it happens quick. Imagine ordering a full meal and getting your food seconds after you walk away from the cashier!

How Fast is Your Car?

Your car can only travel so fast on the freeway. It has a top speed, after all. Even if there was no one else, no cops, no speed limits, and it was just a straight shot from here to there, you'd eventually hit a barrier. Drop your foot to the floor all you want, but your AMC Gremlin just isn't going to break the sound barrier anytime soon.

Back shot of a red Ferrari

This is a limitation on your end. The car you choose to drive has an engine that can only spin at so many RPMs. You could get a car with a more powerful engine (a fire-engine red Ferrari might do nice). But even then, there are limits. You will never find a way to get a car that has limitless speed. You need to be hit by lightning to produce an effect like that. Or be born on Krypton.

This is the same as the hardware limitations and connection speeds on your computer. The hamster on a wheel inside your desktop can only run so fast before it has to stop and take a drink out of that upside-down water bottle. And if your internet connection has to "turn on ", accompanied by sounds of static, phone rings, and electronic screeches ... odds are you're going to have a hard time reading this article, let alone processing addresses.

In short: there's nothing we can do about how fast your car can go. We can only ensure you have an empty freeway to ride on.

How Fast Can You Get on the Freeway?

Now here's a fun one: when you get on the freeway, how long does it take you? See, in life, the on-ramp and the freeway itself are never truly empty. But sometimes, it 's the exact opposite of empty. Some places will have a meter-like a stoplight you would see at an intersection-that only lets cars through the on-ramp one at a time. What's worse, regardless of the Ferrari you might own or the jet-assisted take-off engine you've strapped to the back to get the most speed you can out of it, you still have to wait to put the pedal to the metal since there are a bunch of cars in front of you.

These circumstances correlate to several things. The most important is called throttling: a tool used by some providers to reduce strain and load on their servers by limiting how many requests are being thrown at it at a time. They say, "Ok, use our service, but you can't send more than ten requests a second. " That means you're going to be spending a long time processing those 5 million addresses you have. Or, continuing our metering analogy, that's like getting off and on the freeway cause you enjoy waiting at lights like some kind of masochist.

Sometimes throttling comes in the form of usage limits-i.e., "Use as much as you want per second, but you can only give us 2,500 requests a day. " It gives you more freedom over small batches, but over the long haul, you are still similarly hamstrung.

How Fast Can You Go on the Freeway?

We don't turn the meter on at the on-ramp for a good reason: we've got plenty of space on the freeway for everybody.

Completely empty freeway

Our servers are like a freeway with dozens of lanes, ample space for thousands to drive at high speeds. We built it this way so that we can say, "We can give you whatever speed you need. " You can throw as much as you like at us and grab a hundred of your closest friends to get them to do the same. It won't matter. You'll still get the wicked awesome speeds we promised upfront.

What's more, the hardware we use and the software/code we use are optimized for the roles they fill. We're giving you the Ferrari, so to speak, and taking away all the speed limits. So as long as you can make it to our on-ramp, you're set.

Not every provider has the capacity to just wave the flag and let you run like this. And many aren't willing to commit the capacity they do have. But we think you're worth the extra effort, so we're making an exception for you. Ok, maybe we do that for everybody, but we wanted you to feel special because, hey, everybody deserves a little validation. (That's a validation joke..... Cause we validate addresses... get it?)

All the Junk We Left in the Backseat

Batches

A batch is anytime you lump a bunch of requests together to process them faster. So, say, uploading an Excel file full of addresses. You don't want to be entering all that stuff manually; That'd be like walking from New York to LA.

We support bulk address validation and batch geocodes via batch processing here at Smarty. Some providers do, and some providers don't, but we make a point of offering it to make your lives much easier and simpler. It's kinda like if you showed up at the on-ramp, and we gave you a minivan, full-size van, or a bus to drive, depending on your needs.

Uptime

It doesn't matter how fast our service is if it's never up and running. We have stellar uptime reliability (99.98%), and we have a long series of redundancies built in on behalf of our system to make sure every "just in case " is covered. No need to worry that someone's going to trip over the power cord out here, causing you to suddenly lose access to our service.

API

The last detail we're going to mention is bonus functionality, including API support, among other things. Sometimes, being fast means being available in the most efficient form. If you only need processing one at a time, but you've got lots of little guys spread throughout your day, our address validation APIs might be right up your alley. Tie directly into our ludicrously fast system, and find out just how fast your life can be when we're doing all the validating for your addresses as fast as they come to you.

Are We There Yet?

Millenium Falcon during the Kessel Run

By doing everything in our power and by giving you options for optimizing the above features, we're able to give you the superfast service we're known for. How fast? Like "make the Kessel run " fast. We're known as the fastest in the industry, and it's a moniker we're proud of. We combine this infamous speed with real human beings who actually answer phones (that shouldn't be a superpower, but it is).

The point is, like superheroes, we're here to help. We want you to know you can rest easy at night with us watching over the city (or at least the addresses in it). You deserve a provider who will fight supervillains for you, and that's why your friendly neighborhood Smarty is here to save the day.