Scale and generalization are two fundamental, related concepts in geospatial data. Scale has multiple meanings depending on context, both within geographic information science and in other disciplines. Typically it refers to relative proportions between objects in the real world and their representations. Generalization is the act of modifying detail, usually reducing it, in geospatial data. It is often driven by a need to represent data at coarsened resolution, being typically a consequence of reducing representation scale. Multiple computations and graphical modication processes can be used to achieve generalization, each introducing increased abstraction to the data, its symbolization, or both.
Shape is important in GI Science because the shape of a geographical entity can have far-reaching effects on significant characteristics of that entity. In geography we are mainly concerned with two-dimensional shapes such as the outlines of islands, lakes, and administrative areas, but three-dimensional shapes may become important, for example in the treatment of landforms. Since the attribute of shape has infinitely many degrees of freedom, there can be no single numerical measure such that closely similar shapes are assigned close numerical values. Therefore different shape descriptors have been proposed for different purposes. Although it is generally desirable for a shape descriptor to be scale invariant and rotation invariant, not all proposed descriptors satisfy both these requirements. Some methods by which a shape is described using a single number are described, followed by a discussion of moment-based approaches. It is often useful to represent a complex shape by means of a surrogate shape of simpler form which facilitates storage, manipulation, and comparison between shapes; some examples of commonly used shape surrogates are presented. Another important task is to compare different shapes to determine how similar they are. The article concludes with a discussion of a number of such measures of similarity.
The scientific term spatial autocorrelation describes Tobler’s first law of geography: everything is related to everything else, but nearby things are more related than distant things. Spatial autocorrelation has a:
past characterized by scientists’ non-verbal awareness of it, followed by its formalization;
present typified by its dissemination across numerous disciplines, its explication, its visualization, and its extension to non-normal data; and
an anticipated future in which it becomes a standard in data analytic computer software packages, as well as a routinely considered feature of space-time data and in spatial optimization practice.
Positive spatial autocorrelation constitutes the focal point of its past and present; one expectation is that negative spatial autocorrelation will become a focal point of its future.
Spatial data infrastructure (SDI) is the infrastructure that facilitates the discovery, access, management, distribution, reuse, and preservation of digital geospatial resources. These resources may include maps, data, geospatial services, and tools. As cyberinfrastructures, SDIs are similar to other infrastructures, such as water supplies and transportation networks, since they play fundamental roles in many aspects of the society. These roles have become even more significant in today’s big data age, when a large volume of geospatial data and Web services are available. From a technological perspective, SDIs mainly consist of data, hardware, and software. However, a truly functional SDI also needs the efforts of people, supports from organizations, government policies, data and software standards, and many others. In this chapter, we will present the concepts and values of SDIs, as well as a brief history of SDI development in the U.S. We will also discuss the components of a typical SDI, and will specifically focus on three key components: geoportals, metadata, and search functions. Examples of the existing SDI implementations will also be discussed.
Although spatial data users may not be aware of the inherent uncertainty in all the datasets they use, it is critical to evaluate data quality in order to understand the validity and limitations of any conclusions based on spatial data. Spatial data uncertainty is inevitable as all representations of the real world are imperfect. This topic presents the importance of understanding spatial data uncertainty and discusses major methods and models to communicate, represent, and quantify positional and attribute uncertainty in spatial data, including both analytical and simulation approaches. Geo-semantic uncertainty that involves vague geographic concepts and classes is also addressed from the perspectives of fuzzy-set approaches and cognitive experiments. Potential methods that can be implemented to assess the quality of large volumes of crowd-sourced geographic data are also discussed. Finally, this topic ends with future directions to further research on spatial data quality and uncertainty.
A spatial index is a data structure that allows for accessing a spatial object efficiently. It is a common technique used by spatial databases. Without indexing, any search for a feature would require a "sequential scan" of every record in the database, resulting in much longer processing time. In a spatial index construction process, the minimum bounding rectangle serves as an object approximation. Various types of spatial indices across commercial and open-source databases yield measurable performance differences. Spatial indexing techniques are playing a central role in time-critical applications and the manipulation of spatial big data.
Spatial interaction (SI) is a fundamental concept in the GIScience literature, and may be defined in numerous ways. SI often describes the "flow" of individuals, commodities, capital, and information over (geographic) space resulting from a decision process. Alternatively, SI is sometimes used to refer to the influence of spatial proximity of places on the intensity of relations between those places. SI modeling as a separate research endeavor developed out of a need to mathematically model and understand the underlying determinants of these flows/influences. Proponents of SI modeling include economic geographers, regional scientists, and regional planners, as well as climate scientists, physicists, animal ecologists, and even some biophysical/environmental researchers. Originally developed from theories of interacting particles and gravitational forces in physics, SI modeling has developed through a series of refinements in terms of functional form, conceptual representations of distances, as well as a range of analytically rigorous technical improvements.
Maps communicate information about the world by using symbols to represent specific ideas or concepts. The relationship between a map symbol and the information that symbol represents must be clear and easily interpreted. The symbol design process requires first an understanding of the underlying nature of the data to be mapped (e.g., its spatial dimensions and level of measurement), then the selection of symbols that suggest those data attributes. Cartographers developed the visual variable system, a graphic vocabulary, to express these relationships on maps. Map readers respond to the visual variable system in predictable ways, enabling mapmakers to design map symbols for most types of information with a high degree of reliability.