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DM-71 - Geospatial Data Conflation

Spatial data conflation is the process of combining overlapping spatial datasets to produce a better dataset with higher accuracy or more information. Conflation is needed in many fields, ranging from transportation planning to the analysis of historical datasets, which require the use of multiple data sources. Geospatial data conflation becomes increasingly important with the advancement of GIS and the emergence of new sources of spatial data such as Volunteered Geographic Information.

Conceptually, conflation is a two-step process involving identifying counterpart features that correspond to the same object in reality, and merging the geometry and attributes of counterpart features. In practice, conflation can be performed either manually or with the aid of GIS with varying degrees of automation. Manual conflation is labor-intensive, time consuming and expensive. It is often adopted in practice, nonetheless, due to the lack of reliable automatic conflation methods.

A main challenge of automatic conflation lies in the automatic matching of corresponding features, due to the varying quality and different representations of map data. Many (semi-)automatic feature methods exist. They typically involve measuring the distance between each feature pair and trying to match feature pairs with smaller dissimilarity using a specially designed algorithm or model. Fully automated conflation is still an active research field.

DA-25 - Geospatial Intelligence and National Security

GIS&T exists within the national security enterprise as a multidisciplinary field that is now commonly referred to as Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT).  U.S. GEOINT operations are principally managed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). GEOINT is one among several types of intelligence produced in support of national security, along with Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Measurement and Signatures Intelligence (MASINT), and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). Primary technical GEOINT skill areas include remote sensing, GIS, data management, and data visualization. The intelligence tradecraft is historically characterized as a process involving tasking, collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination (TCPED), and supports decision-making for military, defense, and intelligence operations. The GEOINT enterprise utilizes every type of data collection platform, sensor, and imagery to develop intelligence reports. GEOINT products are used to support situational awareness, safety of navigation, arms control treaty monitoring, natural disaster response, and humanitarian relief operations. Geospatial analysts employed in government positions by NGA or serving in the U.S. armed forces are required to qualify in NGA’s GEOINT Professional Certification (GPC) program, and industry contractors have the option of qualifying under the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) Certified GEOINT Professional (CGP) program.

CV-36 - Geovisual Analytics

Geovisual analytics refers to the science of analytical reasoning with spatial information as facilitated by interactive visual interfaces. It is distinguished by its focus on novel approaches to analysis rather than novel approaches to visualization or computational methods alone. As a result, geovisual analytics is usually grounded in real-world problem solving contexts. Research in geovisual analytics may focus on the development of new computational approaches to identify or predict patterns, new visual interfaces to geographic data, or new insights into the cognitive and perceptual processes that users apply to solve complex analytical problems. Systems for geovisual analytics typically feature a high-degree of user-driven interactivity and multiple visual representation types for spatial data. Geovisual analytics tools have been developed for a variety of problem scenarios, such as crisis management and disease epidemiology. Looking ahead, the emergence of new spatial data sources and display formats is expected to spur an expanding set of research and application needs for the foreseeable future. 

CV-35 - Geovisualization

Geovisualization is primarily understood as the process of interactively visualizing geographic information in any of the steps in spatial analyses, even though it can also refer to the visual output (e.g., plots, maps, combinations of these), or the associated techniques. Rooted in cartography, geovisualization emerged as a research thrust with the leadership of Alan MacEachren (Pennsylvania State University) and colleagues when interactive maps and digitally-enabled exploratory data analysis led to a paradigm shift in 1980s and 1990s. A core argument for geovisualization is that visual thinking using maps is integral to the scientific process and hypothesis generation, and the role of maps grew beyond communicating the end results of an analysis or documentation process. As such, geovisualization interacts with a number of disciplines including cartography, visual analytics, information visualization, scientific visualization, statistics, computer science, art-and-design, and cognitive science; borrowing from and contributing to each. In this entry, we provide a definition and a brief history of geovisualization including its fundamental concepts, elaborate on its relationship to other disciplines, and briefly review the skills/tools that are relevant in working with geovisualization environments. We finish the entry with a list of learning objectives, instructional questions, and additional resources.

PD-14 - GIS and Parallel Programming

Programming is a sought after skill in GIS, but traditional programming (also called serial programming) only uses one processing core. Modern desktop computers, laptops, and even cellphones now have multiple processing cores, which can be used simultaneously to increase processing capabilities for a range of GIS applications. Parallel programming is a type of programming that involves using multiple processing cores simultaneously to solve a problem, which enables GIS applications to leverage more of the processing power on modern computing architectures ranging from desktop computers to supercomputers. Advanced parallel programming can leverage hundreds and thousands of cores on high-performance computing resources to process big spatial datasets or run complex spatial models.

Parallel programming is both a science and an art. While there are methods and principles that apply to parallel programming--when, how, and why certain methods are applied over others in a specific GIS application remains more of an art than a science. The following sections introduce the concept of parallel programming and discuss how to parallelize a spatial problem and measure parallel performance.

PD-19 - GIS APIs

GIS APIs are collections of library modules that resemble various functionalities of GIS software through programming. GIS APIs evolved from desktop GIS. GIS APIs, as a distributed solution, are interoperable, scalable, light-weight, user-friendly, and versatile to a wide range of GIS users. This entry provides an overview of common GIS APIs, their functionalities as well as other related APIs. The general procedure to develop customized GIS applications is briefly discussed and demonstrated in a case study.

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-08 - GIS&T and Archaeology

topo map and LiDAR image

Figure 1.  USGS topo map and bare earth (LiDAR) image of Tennessee’s Mound Bottom State Archaeological Area. Bare Earth DEM processed by Zada Law.

Archaeology provides a glimpse into the lives of past peoples and histories that may have otherwise been forgotten. Geographic Information Systems and Technology (GIS&T) has become an invaluable tool in this endeavor by advancing the identification, documentation, and study of archaeological resources. Large scale mapping techniques have increased the efficiency of site surveys even in challenging environments. GIS&T refers to such things as remote sensing, spatial analysis, and mapping tools. The use of GIS&T for archaeology is a truly interdisciplinary field as it borrows principles from geology, oceanography, botany, meteorology and more in order to further the science. This chapter discusses some of the primary GIS&T tools and techniques used in archaeology and the primary ways in which they are applied.

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.

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