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Geocoding. What is it? How does keep.eu use it?

Geocoding means turning city, town and location names (that humans understand) into codes that maps understand. These are geographic coordinates, namely latitude and longitude, and the corresponding numerical codes workable by the mapping software.

Geocoding allows keep.eu users to see locations’ names on maps. And yet, geocoding is just the starting point to all the partner, project and programme geographic clustering and searching that keep.eu opens to its users.

Why know more about geographic filters in keep.eu?

Countries and regions are one of the filters, or search criteria, that users of keep.eu can apply to cluster or look for Interreg, Interreg-IPA cross-border, ENI CBC, and IPA-IPA cross-border projects, partners and/or programmes. They are extremely handy, it is important that users understand how to work with them – and also their limitations.

Following is a brief explanation of how all about geocoding and related processes work, from the moment that the data on any project and partner comes into keep.eu to the moment that it is actually used.

Basic geographic data

Let’s start with the moment that data on projects and partners arrives anew from programmes to keep.eu. Geolocation is put to work immediately. Every lead and project partner entered into the keep.eu database is defined by three basic features:

  • Its original name (or its name in English, as translated by the programme sending the data on the partner);
  • The name of its headquarters’ location;
  • The country of its headquarters’ location.

Based on the name of the location and on the name of the country, keep.eu uses Google Maps to assign to each partner the smallest level of regional subdivision possible. In the case of the countries covered by Eurostat the lowest subdivision is NUTS3 and for those covered by GADM what keep.eu understands as equivalent to NUTS2. The remaining countries (covered by Datahub) only show at country level.

Blend regions of different sizes and countries

The organisation of the maps in keep.eu follows the same basic principles as that of NUTS. Hence, when keep.eu assigns to any given partner the smallest regional unit (NUTS2 equivalent or NUTS3, as explained above), it is in a way also assigning to it the largest units (NUTS2 and NUTS1, or their equivalents, and countries).

This is what makes it possible for users to look for project or partner data by country (NUTS0 or equivalent), by major region within a country (NUTS1 or equivalent), by intermediate-sized region within a country (NUTS2 or equivalent), or by the smallest possible region within a country (NUTS3).

Users can also combine regions of different sizes and countries in their searches. In Projects and documents users can even look for partners or projects by the geographic area covered by any European Union macro-regional strategy. (They only need to select the strategy, and keep.eu marks as selected the regions and countries within the area of that very same strategy.) They can combine all these regional, national and macro-regional filters to look for project, partner and programme data in keep.eu.

Country and region names in different languages

In any area of the keep.eu website, users may select the countries of their interest by using their English names. The names of the countries covered by Eurostat can also be found by using their national language. This is because the format of these countries’ names is, for example, [EL] Greece / ΕΛΛΑΔΑ, [BG] Bulgaria / БЪЛГАРИЯ, or [ES] Spain / ESPAÑA.

On the other hand, regions’ names in the areas covered by Eurostat are in the official language(s) of the country and, whenever the alphabet used nationally is not Latin, also in English. Regions’ names in areas not covered by Eurostat are in English and, in some cases, in the official language of the country.

Important: Limitations of geocoding

Geocoding is not a 100% accurate operation. Interact is currently developing a script to assist in the manual spotting and correction of cases in which partners were assigned the wrong regions and/or the wrong country. Until then, use caution and consider that around between 1 and 10% of geolocation results may be incorrect.

The mistakes of geolocation stem from the fact that the software used by keep.eu and Google Maps put the location of the partner in the wrong region, either because the partner is so close to a regional or national border that the software’s imprecise borders place it on the wrong side, or due to some glitches in the basic software itself, if the partner is well inside the region or country.

Where do the map coordinates come from in keep.eu?

Keep.eu uses Google maps as its basic geographic platform. On top of these maps, it also uses Google Maps to show the locations of partnerships.

However, in order to make it possible for users to search by region, keep.eu needs sources defining the borders of the regions, all over the world. This is what makes it possible to define if a given town A is in country X and its region Y or in country Z and region W. Keep.eu uses three sources defining regions on maps and linking locations to regions in its search engine:

  • Eurostat (countries are progressively split into NUTS1, NUTS2 and NUTS3 regions). The NUTS system is used for EU member States, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The notation of any country that is plotted in keep.eu using NUTS contains the two-letter country code, the name of the country in English and the name of the country in the original language. An example is [AL] Albania / SHQIPËRIA. An example of a region in this very same system is [AL022] Tiranë. Currently, keep.eu uses the NUTS2016 03M version.
  • GADM (countries are progressively split only into NUTS1 and NUTS2-equivalent regions) (website). This is used for the following countries and territories: Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Egypt; Georgia; Gibraltar; Israel; Jordan; Kosovo; Lebanon; Libya; Moldova; Monaco; Morocco; Palestine; Russia; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Syria; Tunisia; Ukraine. The notation for these countries in keep.eu is the three-letter country code (two-letter in two cases), the name of the country and its alias in English. An example is [DZA] Algeria / Algeria. As for regions, there are two notation possibilities, according to the two examples: [DZA.48.1_1] Ain Fettah; or [DZA.48_1] Tlemcen / تلمسان.
  • Datahub (countries cannot be split for geographical search) (website), for the remaining countries. Countries plotted in keep.eu with the help of Datahub show with a two-letter country code and their name in English, such as in [AF] Afghanistan. In keep.eu these countries are not divided into regions.

The exception to geocoding: The areas of the 2014-2020 IPA cross-border programmes

2014-2020 IPA cross-border programmes have very specifically defined areas, not making it possible for keep.eu to show these areas on maps. Instead, the regions making up each of these programmes’ areas are listed in the respective programme page but are not plotted on any map in keep.eu. The notation used in this case is the country’s two-letter code followed by the name of the region.