How Do I Calculate ZIP Code-to-ZIP Code Driving Distances?

I’ve worked in the geospatial field for over twenty years now. This milestone seriously blows my mind, both because it reminds me how fast time flies and because it’s been a winding road. My initial time in geospatial sales was with DeLorme Publishing (now Garmin) where I headed up their professional sales division selling business mapping software, map data, and GPS devices.

At both DeLorme and Map Business Online, our sales teams occasionally fielded customer requests for a ZIP code-to-ZIP Code driving distance or time analysis. A “ZIP-to-ZIP” analysis compares one list of ZIP codes to another list of ZIP codes or just one ZIP code, as a way to develop an array of all the driving distances between all ZIP codes in both datasets.  If you displayed the analysis on a map it would be an incredibly dense set of routes crisscrossing each other, but the result is usually a list of ZIP codes with distances or times noted.

ZIP-to-ZIP calculations are helpful for specific use cases in geographic business analysis.

  • Companies that need to estimate future driving and travel costs find these estimates useful for cost projections, fuel consumption projections, and expense related estimates
  • Delivery companies use ZIP-to-ZIP calculations to develop delivery fees and delivery time estimates across their coverage areas
  • Market analysis applications also exist that require distance and time estimates along a road network as they consider how many people are willing to make the trip to a product launch or an advertised sale at a retail store

Batch Calculate Distances

At Map Business Online we refer to ZIP-to-ZIP calculations as Batch Calculation of Distances or Times Across Multiple Centers. The ability to process this complex query is a feature in Map Business Online Pro. When a Map Business Online user imports a ZIP code or a set of ZIP codes into Map Business Online with no associated addresses, the application plots the ZIP points at the centroid or center point of the imported ZIP code(s).

ZIP Code Centroid Points

The beauty of Map Business Online Pro is that it enables multiple center point analysis across an entire dataset of imported ZIPs (within reasonable limits.) The tool also includes several batch-calculate distance and time operations in its Market Analysis tools.

  • Straight Line Distance
  • Driving Time Distance
  • Driving Time
  • Combinations of the Above

It’s important to keep the unique location of the Batch Calculate button in mind as you process a ZIP-to-ZIP analysis. That special spot is on the Mini Toolbar associated with a plotted center point in your analysis. See the picture below and read on.

Batch Calculate from a Plotted Point

Map Business Online solved the ZIP-to-ZIP problem by inserting an advanced feature in the recently released Map Business Online Pro. It is deceptively simple once your aware of how to do it. If your current subscription is the Standard Plan, you will need to upgrade to Pro to get access to Batch Calculate Distance features.

The Problem and the Solution

A customer desired to analyze all distances from one central plotted ZIP code point to the outlying list of ZIP codes within a 150-mile radius of the center ZIP.

Here are the steps to achieve this ZIP code-to-ZIP code analysis:

  1. Using Map Business Online Pro, in the Address Bar at the upper left of your MBO screen plot the center ZIP code for your analysis.
  2. At the plotted center point a mini toolbar now appears. Click the Radius Button on the mini toolbar and Query the circle for all the enclosed ZIP codes
  3. Export the ZIP codes out of MBO (Far right button on the Data Window Toolbar) and save it to your desktop. The file is exported as a CSV file.
  4. Click the plotted point toolbar again. Select the Target Icon Button for Market Analysis and Batch Distance Calculation
    1. In the Drop Down choose Drive Distance (note the options listed – Straight Distance, Drive Time, Drive Distance, Combos)
    2. Plot the Exported and Saved ZIP code file
    3. Input a Column Label descriptor like “ZIP” or more descriptive depending on your analysis
    4. Process the query
  5. Results will be posted to the Data Window for Export

Map Business Online Pro provides advanced map-based business analysis for  land-based organizations, delivery-focused, sales territory oriented, and travel intensive. Demographic data layers are available for the development of comprehensive market analysis solutions driving sales growth.

Map Business Online Pro provides an advanced set of map-based market analysis tools that will help you and your business access the power of location and drive time analysis.

Are you using the Map Business Online Desktop App for MAC or PC? It’s hipper than Instagram and it comes with your subscription. Impeach Adobe Flash Player!

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling Map Business Online.

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