All Topics

DM-66 - Spatial Index

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.

AM-10 - Spatial interaction

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.

CV-08 - Symbolization and the Visual Variables

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.

CV-14 - Terrain Representation

Terrain representation is the manner by which elevation data are visualized. Data are typically stored as 2.5D grid representations, including digital elevation models (DEMs) in raster format and triangulated irregular networks (TINs). These models facilitate terrain representations such as contours, shaded relief, spot heights, and hypsometric tints, as well as automate calculations of surface derivatives such as slope, aspect, and curvature. 3D effects have viewing directions perpendicular (plan), parallel (profile), or panoramic (oblique view) to the elevation’s vertical datum plane. Recent research has focused on automating, stylizing, and enhancing terrain representations. From the user’s perspective, representations of elevation are measurable or provide a 3D visual effect, with much overlap between the two. The ones a user can measure or derive include contours, hypsometric tinting, slope, aspect, and curvature. Other representations focus on 3D effect and may include aesthetic considerations, such as hachures, relief shading, physiographic maps, block diagrams, rock drawings, and scree patterns. Relief shading creates the 3D effect using the surface normal and illumination vectors with the Lambertian assumption. Non-plan profile or panoramic views are often enhanced by vertical exaggeration. Cartographers combine techniques to mimic or create mapping styles, such as the Swiss-style.

CV-10 - Typography

The selection of appropriate type on maps, far from an arbitrary design decision, is an integral part of establishing the content and tone of the map. Typefaces have personalities, which contribute to the rhetorical message of the map. It is important to understand how to assess typefaces for their personalities, but also to understand which typefaces may be more or less legible in a labeling context. Beyond the choice of typeface, effective map labels will have a visual hierarchy and allow the user to easily associate labels to their features and feature types. The cartographer must understand and modify typographic visual variables to support both the hierarchy and label-feature associations.

DC-24 - Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are revolutionizing how GIS&T researchers and practitioners model and analyze our world. Compared to traditional remote sensing approaches, UAS provide a largely inexpensive, flexible, and relatively easy-to-use platform to capture high spatial and temporal resolution geospatial data. Developments in computer vision, specifically Structure from Motion (SfM), enable processing of UAS-captured aerial images to produce three-dimensional point clouds and orthophotos. However, many challenges persist, including restrictive legal environments for UAS flight, extensive data processing times, and the need for further basic research. Despite its transformative potential, UAS adoption still faces some societal hesitance due to privacy concerns and liability issues.

DA-33 - Urban and Regional Planning

Professionals within the urban and regional planning domain have long utilized GIS&T to better understand cities through mapping urban data, representing new proposals, and conducting modeling and analysis to help address urban problems. These activities include spatial data collection and management, cartography, and a variety of applied spatial analysis techniques. Urban and regional planning has developed the sub-fields of planning support systems and Geodesign, both of which describe a combination of technologies and methods to incorporate GIS&T into collaborative planning contexts. In the coming years, shifting patterns of global urbanization, smart cities, and urban big data present emerging opportunities and challenges for urban planning professionals.

CV-38 - Usability Engineering & Evaluation

In this entry, we introduce tenets of usability engineering (UE) and user-centered design (UCD), interrelated approaches to ensuring that a map or visualization works for the target use. After a general introduction to these concepts and processes, we then discuss treatment of UE and UCD in research on cartography and geographic visualization. Finally, we present a classification of UE evaluation methods, including a general overview of each category of method and their application to cartographic user research.  

CV-13 - User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) Design

Advances in personal computing and information technologies have fundamentally transformed how maps are produced and consumed, as many maps today are highly interactive and delivered online or through mobile devices. Accordingly, we need to consider interaction as a fundamental complement to representation in cartography and visualization. UI (user interface) / UX (user experience) describes a set of concepts, guidelines, and workflows for critically thinking about the design and use of an interactive product, map or otherwise. This entry introduces core concepts from UI/UX design important to cartography and visualization, focusing on issues related to visual design. First, a fundamental distinction is made between the use of an interface as a tool and the broader experience of an interaction, a distinction that separates UI design and UX design. Norman’s stages of interaction framework then is summarized as a guiding model for understanding the user experience with interactive maps, noting how different UX design solutions can be applied to breakdowns at different stages of the interaction. Finally, three dimensions of UI design are described: the fundamental interaction operators that form the basic building blocks of an interface, interface styles that implement these operator primitives, and recommendations for visual design of an interface.

CP-14 - Web GIS

Web GIS allows the sharing of GIS data, maps, and spatial processing across private and public computer networks. Understanding web GIS requires learning the roles of client and server machines and the standards and protocols around how they communicate to accomplish tasks. Cloud computing models have allowed web-based GIS operations to be scaled out to handle large jobs, while also enabling the marketing of services on a per-transaction basis.

A variety of toolkits allow the development of GIS-related websites and mobile apps. Some web GIS implementations bring together map layers and GIS services from multiple locations. In web environments, performance and security are two concerns that require heightened attention. App users expect speed, achievable through caching, indexing, and other techniques. Security precautions are necessary to ensure sensitive data is only revealed to authorized viewers.

Many organizations have embraced the web as a way to openly share spatial data at a relatively low cost. Also, the web-enabled expansion of spatial data production by nonexperts (sometimes known as “neogeography”) offers a rich field for alternative mappings and critical study of GIS and society.