This one is probably of interest to Stata nerds only, so I’ll put it below the fold.
I knew that in the future computers would be taking more and more jobs in the knowledge economy, but I didn’t know that I’d be helping them do it. In the upcoming Stata Journal I have a paper with a coauthor that lets Stata query Google Maps in order to find latitude and longitude for addresses or other locations, also known as geocoding. What makes this useful is that you can have weird formatting, spelling errors, or missing information in your address or location variable and the program can still geocode it as well as Google Maps can place it on a map. This is a big improvement over standard geocoders that you’d use in, for instance, ArcGIS, which can be sensitive to spelling mistakes and often requires addresses to be extensively “cleaned” before they can be geocoded successfully. This is the part that means less work for research assistants.
In addition, in the paper we detail another Stata program that allows you calculate travel time or distance between two points as Google Maps would report if you used it to find direction. Just like with Google maps you can specify mode choice, including walking, driving, and when available public transportation. Many social scientists use distance between points in their research but unless they have access to GIS programs they are forced to use as-the-crow-flies distances. Now any Stata user can get travel times and distances, by mode, for free.
You can find the Stata Journal article detailing these programs here or by typing “findit geocode” in Stata.