MassGIS-HERE project description and licensing requirements

A description of the HERE geocoding resources and the roles of the state agencies involved in obtaining and improving those resources for use by Commonwealth government entities. It also describes conditions for use of the HERE data files.


The HERE geocoding files are digital map files that provide an accurate representation of the highway and street network with additional attribution of street names and address ranges to support geocoding, which is the computerized process of finding locations based on address. These map files are compatible with the Commonwealth’s 1:5000 scale color orthophotography, meaning that street centerlines are almost always mapped to within 5 meters (~16 feet) or better of the location of the visible street centerline in the orthophotography. Since HERE has classified all of Massachusetts as an urban area, their highest standards of data acquisition are in effect for continuing to improve the street centerlines. This means that updates by HERE will be derived from GPS-based field data collection using mobile field units.

The Massachusetts Highway Department has purchased an enterprise license for the HERE geocoding files for Massachusetts. The license allows these files to be used by any Massachusetts government agency or political subdivision, including commissions, boards, regional agencies, authorities, and cities and towns; however the HERE files remain the property of HERE and may not be distributed to outside entities. The Massachusetts State 911 Department, the state agency with oversight of the E911 program, will be paying the annual maintenance cost of the HERE files and funding work at MassGIS to substantially improve the quality of the street, street name, and address information in the HERE files.


Agencies must acknowledge and accept certain conditions to obtain the data, including the requirement to post the source of the geocoding results when displayed on a web site. These requirements are discussed in more detail below.

Obtaining the HERE data

MassGIS is responsible for distributing the HERE data to all eligible organizations. Before an eligible organization can receive the data, two people at the organization must be identified. First, the organization must identify a person who will act as the Technical Contact. This person will be the primary contact at that organization for all aspects of the HERE data release, including its distribution to other users in their organization; they will be the ones to receive any future updates. Second, the agency must identify a person to act as a License Signatory. This person should have direct or indirect supervisory authority over agency employees who are using the HERE files; this includes temporary help or consultants being paid by the agency to deliver a service or product that will be used by that agency in its authorized operations.

Using the data

You can provide geocoded results to non-state entities and return the results to them.  However, you can only do this when the geocoding is performed is directly part of a larger (i.e., the project involves more than just the geocoding) project in which your organization is participating. Your office cannot establish a geocoding service bureau for private sector or non-profit organizations, even if you do not charge a fee for the service.

If your organization is doing a study and data from several non-profits will be used, you may publish the results of the study. It doesn’t really matter where the addresses come from, rather where the results go, since the work is being done by a state agency that intends to publish the results on its own behalf.

Temporary help or consultants can only use the HERE files on equipment owned or leased by the agency and in an office location owned or leased by that agency. If someone who wants to use the HERE files does not at least indirectly report to the License Signatory, then an additional or different License Signatory must be identified.

Download the full License Agreement and the Signature Page
Instructions are provided for returning the signature page and obtaining the data.

Displaying geocoding results on a website

The primary purpose for which most agencies will use the HERE files will be geocoding. Any geocoding results published to a website must include the following notice in conspicuous type immediately below all results provided on a Web Site: “Use of Geocoding Data subject to License.” The word “License” shall be underlined and highlighted in a different color so that when clicked upon it serves as a link to an agreement containing the terms that the end-user accepts by clicking on a button labeled “I agree”. The terms that must be accepted are those in Sections 1a – 1h of the Server License Agreement portion of the AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE MASSACHUSETTS HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT AND AMERICAN DIGITAL CARTOGRAPHY, INC. that accompanied the signature page signed by each agency’s License Signatory (see above).

Data format and files

  • MassGIS distributes the data in the shapefile format (which can be used with most commonly available GIS software) and in a personal geodatabase (for use in ArcGIS 9.3.1 and 10.0). The Technical Contact must specify which format is appropriate for them. The data will cover the entire state. You may use your GIS software to clip the statewide dataset to any custom geographic extent.
  • The HERE data will be accompanied by “Address Locators" -- files that will enable ArcGIS geocoding wizards to recognize and link to the attribute fields (street address and zone) used in geocoding. When using ArcGIS, users can choose among three "zones," ZIP Code, town, or postal town (often the same as town).
  • In addition, MassGIS delivers ArcGIS 9.3 layer files (*.LYR) that facilitate data display (symbolization and labeling) for both ArcGIS 9.3 and 10.0.

The technical contact may request an update once a year by emailing

MassGIS and the Massachusetts State 911 Department will be working to report errors and omissions to HERE.


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