All Topics

DA-01 - GIS&T and Agriculture

Agriculture, whether in the Corn Belt of the United States, the massive rice producing areas of Southeast Asia, or the bean harvest of a smallholder producer in Central America, is the basis for feeding the world. Agriculture systems are highly complex and heterogeneous in both space and time. The need to contextualize this complexity and to make more informed decisions regarding agriculture has led to GIS&T approaches supporting the agricultural sciences in many different areas. Agriculture represents a rich resource of spatiotemporal data and different problem contexts; current and future GIScientists should look toward agricultural as a potentially rewarding area of investigation and, likewise, one where new approaches have the potential to help improve the food, environmental, and economic security of people around the world.

DA-04 - GIS&T and Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering, which includes sub-disciplines such as environmental, geotechnical, structural, and water resource engineering, is increasingly dependent on the GIS&T for the planning, design, operation and management of civil engineering infrastructure systems.  Typical tasks include the management of spatially referenced data sets, analytic modeling for making design decisions and estimating likely system behavior and impacts, and the visualization of systems for the decision-making process and garnering stakeholder support.

DA-37 - GIS&T and Epidemiology

Location plays an important role in human health. Where we live, work, and spend our time is associated with different exposures, which may influence the risk of developing disease. GIS has been used to answer key research questions in epidemiology, which is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease. These research questions include describing and visualizing spatial patterns of disease and risk factors, exposure modeling of geographically varying environmental variables, and linking georeferenced information to conduct studies testing hypotheses regarding exposure-disease associations. GIS has been particularly instrumental in environmental epidemiology, which focuses on the physical, chemical, biological, social, and economic factors affecting health. Advances in personal exposure monitoring, exposome research, and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing the way GIS can be integrated with epidemiology to study how the environment may impact human health.

DA-16 - GIS&T and Forestry

GIS applications in forestry are as diverse as the subject itself. Many foresters match a common stereotype as loggers and firefighters, but many protect wildlife, manage urban forests, enhance water quality, provide for recreation, and plan for a sustainable future.  A broad range of management goals drives a broad range of spatial methods, from adjacency functions to zonal analysis, from basic field measurements to complex multi-scale modeling. As such, it is impossible to describe the breadth of GIS&T in forestry. This review will cover core ways that geospatial knowledge improves forest management and science, and will focus on supporting core competencies.  

CP-06 - Graphics Processing Units (GPUs)

Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) represent a state-of-the-art acceleration technology for general-purpose computation. GPUs are based on many-core architecture that can deliver computing performance much higher than desktop computers based on Central Processing Units (CPUs). A typical GPU device may have hundreds or thousands of processing cores that work together for massively parallel computing. Basic hardware architecture and software standards that support the use of GPUs for general-purpose computation are illustrated by focusing on Nvidia GPUs and its software framework: CUDA. Many-core GPUs can be leveraged for the acceleration of spatial problem-solving.  

DM-35 - Logical data models

A logical data model is created for the second of three levels of abstraction, conceptual, logical, and physical. A logical data model expresses the meaning context of a conceptual data model, and adds to that detail about data (base) structures, e.g. using topologically-organized records, relational tables, object-oriented classes, or extensible markup language (XML) construct  tags. However, the logical data model formed is independent of a particular database management software product. Nonetheless such a model is often constrained by a class of software language techniques for representation, making implementation with a physical data model easier.  Complex entity types of the conceptual data model must be translated into sub-type/super-type hierarchies to clarify data contexts for the entity type, while avoiding duplication of concepts and data.  Entities and records should have internal identifiers.  Relationships can be used to express the involvement of entity types with activities or associations. A logical schema is formed from the above data organization.  A schema diagram depicts the entity, attribute and relationship detail for each application.  The resulting logical data models can be synthesized using schema integration to support multi-user database environments, e.g., data warehouses for strategic applications and/or federated databases for tactical/operational business applications.

CV-06 - Map Projections

Map projection is the process of transforming angular (spherical / elliptical) coordinates into planar coordinates. All map projections introduce distortion (e.g., to areas, angles, distances) in the resulting planar coordinates. Understanding what, where, and how much distortion is introduced is an important consideration for spatial computations and visual interpretation of spatial patterns, as well as for general aesthetics of any map.

DA-23 - Marine Science

Image courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board


GIS&T has traditionally provided effective technological solutions to the integration, visualization, and analysis of heterogeneous, georeferenced data on land. In recent years, our ability to measure change in the ocean is increasing, not only because of improved measuring devices and scientific techniques, but also because new GIS&T is aiding us in better understanding this dynamic environment. The domain has progressed from applications that merely collect and display data to complex simulation, modeling, and the development of new research methods and concepts.

AM-44 - Modelling Accessibility

Modelling accessibility involves combining ideas about destinations, distance, time, and impedances to measure the relative difficulty an individual or aggregate region faces when attempting to reach a facility, service, or resource. In its simplest form, modelling accessibility is about quantifying movement opportunity. Crucial to modelling accessibility is the calculation of the distance, time, or cost distance between two (or more) locations, which is an operation that geographic information systems (GIS) have been designed to accomplish. Measures and models of accessibility thus draw heavily on the algorithms embedded in a GIS and represent one of the key applied areas of GIS&T.

DC-16 - Nature of multispectral image data

A multispectral image comprises a set of co-registered images, each of which captures the spatially varying brightness of a scene in a specific spectral band, or electromagnetic wavelength region. An image is structured as a raster, or grid, of pixels. Multispectral images are used as a visual backdrop for other GIS layers, to provide information that is manually interpreted from images, or to generate automatically-derived thematic layers, for example through classification. The scale of multispectral images has spatial, spectral, radiometric and temporal components. Each component of scale has two aspects, extent (or coverage), and grain (or resolution). The brightness variations of an image are determined by factors that include (1) illumination variations and effects of the atmosphere, (2) spectral properties of materials in the scene (particularly reflectance, but also, depending on the wavelength, emittance), (3) spectral bands of the sensor, and (4) display options, such as the contrast stretch, which affect the visualization of the image. This topic review focuses primarily on optical remote sensing in the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, with an emphasis on satellite imagery.