A Word About ZIP Codes – ZIP5, ZIP3, ZCTA, and Points

Map Business Online includes a map layer of ZIP5 codes for spatial reference to ZIP code boundaries.  US Postal Service (USPS) ZIP code boundaries are used as the basis for territory construction.  By applying map layers like ZIP5 codes, states and counties as the basis for territory construction Map Business Online is able to incorporate data into territory analysis views. Data that might include demographic categories or user imported data.

Map Business Online also includes access to ZIP3 or 3 digit ZIP codes through the Add Map Layer button. This does require a full-year subscription.  3 digit ZIP codes represent larger areas around the nation.  A 3 digit ZIP code is simply the first three digits of a 5 digit ZIP code. So for Massachusetts, the 3-digit ZIP code numbers would include 021 and 019. The 5 digit ZIP code where I grew up was 01966.

3 Digit ZIP Codes

First time Map Business Online users will note that the ZIP code layer delivered with a new subscription uses the ZCTA ZIP codes from the US Census Bureau. ZCTA stands for ZIP Code Tabulation Area. A business mapping user can change the ZCTA layer to the USPS standard ZIP5 Code layer by clicking the Edit Properties Gear in the Map & Data toolbar. Choose the ZIP Code tab and the Drop Down to USPS ZIP Codes With Fillers. CTA ZIP codes may provide more accurate estimates for certain Census categories.

I recommend selecting the ZIP5 codes with fillers because this ZIP5 code map layer option will automatically accommodate national parks and other areas where ZIP5 codes do not exist. This avoids lots of territory holes, especially out west. So if you notice your territories have white spaces in them, the fill isn’t consistent, it is probably from lack of fillers. Remember, if you do change to ZIP5 codes with Fillers the fix is not retroactive. You will have to reconstruct territories to fix the holes.

ZCTA ZIP code and USPS ZIP5 code boundaries generally reflect the same boundaries.  But there can be some differences. ZCTA is a Census Bureau version of ZIP codes used for tabulating Census collected data. ZCTA ZIPs are more closely aligned with Census block areas, where the USPS postal codes are more focused on mail delivery and other USPS concerns.  ZCTA ZIPs are designed to focus on populated areas. Rural areas may not have associated ZCTA ZIP codes. Read more about ZCTA ZIP codes here.

Map Business Online includes ZCTA Census based ZIP codes at first because these are freely available from the Census Bureau, making them appropriate for use with our free 1-month trial of the product.

ZIP5 codes are generally attributed to the US Postal Service. USPS ZIP codes in Map Business Online map layers are boundary ZIP codes.  Map Business Online boundary ZIP codes are used to create territories and areas of interest. A radius search of a ZIP code layer returns a collection of boundary ZIP codes for export.

Point ZIP5 codes are large USPS mail stops for big facilities like military installations, hospitals, assisted living centers, or sky scrapers.  The USPS ZIP Code list includes 33,238 boundary ZIP codes and 7,785 point ZIP codes. A complete list of Boundary and Point ZIP codes is available in the Map Business Online Public Data from the Server, accessed through the Plot Data button on the master toolbar. Read more about Boundary and Point ZIPs.

While all of this ZIP code information may feel a little overwhelming, please keep in mind that ZIP codes are a man-made orgnization tool to help deliver the mail efficiently. ZTCA’s are a twist on that tool to help the Census Bureau compile data, and boundary and point ZIP codes are simply differentiating areas and large buildings.  With all that in mind, go build yourself a ZIP code map.

Point ZIP Codes over Boundary ZIP Codes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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