PCCF+ requires SAS or another statistical software to open and operate the files.
PCCF+ differs from the PCCF in that it:
- Uses population-weighted random allocation for many postal codes that link to more than one geographic area.
- Options are available for institutional postal codes.
- Procedures are included to link partial postal codes to geographic identifiers where possible.
- Problem records and diagnostics are provided in the program output, along with reference information for possible solutions.
The geographic coordinates, which represent the standard geostatistical areas linked to each postal code on the PCCF, are commonly used to map the distribution of data for spatial analysis (e.g., clients, activities).
Purpose of PCCF+
The purpose of the Postal Code Conversion File Plus (PCCF+) is to provide a link between six-character postal codes produced by Canada Post, standard 2016 census geographic areas (such as dissemination areas, census subdivisions, and census tracts) produced by Statistics Canada, and supplementary administrative areas and neighbourhood income quintiles.
Postal codes do not respect census geographic boundaries and so may be linked to more than one standard geographic area, or assigned to more than one set of coordinates. Therefore, one postal code may be represented by more than one record. The PCCF product, produced by Statistics Canada, provides links between postal codes and all recorded matches to census geography.
PCCF+ uses the PCCF but provides additional functionality in that it uses a population-weighted matching process for some residential postal codes where more than one geographic code is possible. PCCF+ also provides routines for institutional postal codes and for historic postal codes.
The purpose of this product is not to validate postal codes or the PCCF.
When to use PCCF+
The Postal Code Conversion File Plus (PCCF+) is updated on an annual basis. The regular maintenance includes taking all postal code changes continually introduced by Canada Post Corporation as updated in the PCCF, as well as any updates to health regions or other administrative files. Every five years, after each census, PCCF+ and the underlying population weight files are recalculated and aligned with the new vintage of census geographic areas.
PCCF+ consists of a SAS© control program and a series of reference files derived from the PCCF, the geographic attribute file, a custom postal code population weight file, health region boundaries, and other sources. PCCF+ automatically assigns a full range of geographic identifiers based on postal codes. PCCF+ has been developed over a number of years for research studies at Statistics Canada with considerable input from the broader research community. With the help of user feedback, any incorrect coding due to errors in the underlying reference files or programming can be identified and corrected.
The primary capabilities of PCCF+ are:
- Read and troubleshoot community mail boxes and other sources of duplicate records on the PCCF (Delivery Mode Type, or DMT A,B).
- Identify postal codes which may be used by businesses or institutions rather than residential locations (DMT E,G,M).
- Provide geographically unbiased coding for small PO boxes at urban post offices (DMT K) and for General Delivery at urban post offices (DMT J).
- Provide better geographic coding for institutions using large PO boxes (DMT M).
- Incorporate retired postal codes, taking into account problems related to previous DMT.
- Provide translation across different vintages of census geography, which is useful in geocoding datasets that span backwards in time (such as cohort studies).
- Use the first one, two, three, four, or five characters of the postal code to impute or partially impute census geographic coding.
- Provide additional information to correct erroneous or problematic postal codes and find geographic codes by other means.
- For postal codes which may or may not refer to a place of business (DMT E,G,M), flag records known to serve non-residential addresses, and flag those known to serve residential addresses.
- For areas consisting primarily of collective dwellings, indicate the predominant dwelling type (hospital, nursing home, prison, etc.).
- Provide detailed diagnostics indicating how the coding was done, what problems were encountered, and how ambiguous or precise the coding was.
For research purposes, the PCCF and PCCF+ products provide different capabilities. The following flow chart provides some guidance to users to determine product suitability for their geocoding purposes.
Please refer to the user guide for more information on using the PCCF+.
Queen’s University offers this video guide on Using SAS to access the PCCF+.