All Topics

FC-24 - Conceptual Models of Error and Uncertainty

Uncertainty and error are integral parts of science and technology, including GIS&T, as they are of most human endeavors. They are important characteristics of knowledge, which is very seldom perfect. Error and uncertainty both affect our understanding of the present and the past, and our expectations from the future. ‘Uncertainty’ is sometimes used as the umbrella term for a number of related concepts, of which ‘error’ is the most important in GIS and in most other data-intensive fields. Very often, uncertainty is the result of error (or suspected error).  As concepts, both uncertainty and error are complex, each having several different versions, interpretations, and kinds of impacts on the quality of GIS products, and on the uses and decisions that users may make on their basis. This section provides an overview of the kinds of uncertainty and common sources of error in GIS&T, the role of a number of additional related concepts in refining our understanding of different forms of imperfect knowledge, the problems of uncertainty and error in the context of decision-making, especially regarding actions with important future consequences, and some standard as well as more exploratory approaches to handling uncertainties about the future. While uncertainty and error are in general undesirable, they may also point to unsuspected aspects of an issue and thus help generate new insights.

CP-13 - Cyberinfrastructure

Cyberinfrastructure (sometimes referred to as e-infrastructure and e-science) integrates cutting-edge digital environments to support collaborative research and education for computation- and/or data-intensive problem solving and decision making (Wang 2010).

CV-29 - Design and Aesthetics

Design and aesthetics are fundamental to cartographic practice. Developing students’ skills in design and aesthetics is a critical part of cartography education, yet design is also one of the most difficult part of the cartographic process. The cartographic design process of planning, creating, critiquing, and revising maps provides a method for making maps with intentional design decisions, utilizing an understanding of aesthetics to promote clarity and cohesion to attract the user and facilitate an emotional response. In this entry, cartographic design and the cartographic design process are reviewed, and the concepts of aesthetics, style, and taste are explained in the context of cartographic design.

PD-05 - Design, Development, Testing, and Deployment of GIS Applications

A systems development life cycle (SDLC) denes and guides the activities and milestones in the design, development, testing, and de ployment of software applications & information systems. Various choices of SDLC are available for different types of software applications & information systems and compositions of development teams and stakeholders. While the choice of an SDLC for building geographic information system (GIS) applications is similar to that of other types of software applications, critical decisions in each phase of the GIS development life cycle (GiSDLC) should take into account essential questions concern ing the storage, access, and analysis of (geo)spatial data for the target application. This article aims to introduce various considerations in the GiSDLC, from the perspectives of handling (geo)spatial data. The article rst introduces several (geo)spatial processes and types as well as various modalities of GIS applications. Then the article gives a brief introduction to an SDLC, including explaining the role of (geo)spatial data in the SDLC. Finally, the article uses two existing real-world applications as an example to highlight critical considerations in the GiSDLC.

FC-14 - Directional Operations

In the same manner as distance, direction plays an equally important role in GIS. This article first summarizes different ways of measuring direction, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Formulas and examples are provided. In the following discussion, fundamental differences between distance and direction in describing spatial relations is examined; properties of angles are emphasized in the context of GIS; and the classification of both cardinal and projective direction is illustrated. With a focus on quantitative operations, various directional operations are categorized and elaborated based on factors such as the underlying data model (vector or raster) and whether direction effect is explicitly or implicitly embedded in the data.

FC-42 - Distance Operations

Distance is a central concept in geography, and consequently, there are various types of operations that leverage the concept of distance. This short article introduces common distance measures, the purpose of distance operations, different types of operations and considerations, as well as sample applications in the physical and social domains. Distance operations can be performed on both vector or raster data, but the operations and results may differ. While performing distance operations, it is important to remember how distance is conceptualized while performing the operation.

DM-44 - Earth's Shape, Sea Level, and the Geoid

C. F. Gauss set the modern definition of the shape of the Earth, being described as the shape the oceans would adopt if they were entirely unperturbed and, thus, placid—a surface now called the geoid.  This surface cannot be observed directly because the oceans have waves, tides, currents, and other perturbations. Nonetheless, the geoid is the ideal datum for heights, and the science of determining the location of the geoid for practical purposes is the topic of physical geodesy. The geoid is the central concept that ties together what the various kinds of height mean, how they are measured, and how they are inter-related.

CP-29 - Enterprise GIS

Enterprise GIS is the implementation of GIS infrastructure, processes and tools at scale within the context of an organization, shaped by the prevailing information technology patterns of the day. It can be framed as an infrastructure enabling a set of capabilities, and a process for establishing and maintaining that infrastructure. Enterprise GIS facilitates the storage, sharing and dissemination of geospatial information products (data, maps, apps) within an organization and beyond. Enterprise GIS is integrated into, and shaped by the business processes, culture and context of an organization. Enterprise GIS implementations require general-purpose IT knowledge in the areas of performance tuning, information security, maintenance, interoperability, and data governance. The specific enabling technologies of Enterprise GIS will change with time, but currently the prevailing pattern is a multi-tiered services-oriented architecture supporting delivery of GIS capabilities on the web, democratizing access to and use of geospatial information products.

GS-13 - Epistemological critiques

As GIS became a firmly established presence in geography and catalysed the emergence of GIScience, it became the target of a series of critiques regarding modes of knowledge production that were perceived as problematic. The first wave of critiques charged GIS with resuscitating logical positivism and its erroneous treatment of social phenomena as indistinguishable from natural/physical phenomena. The second wave of critiques objected to GIS on the basis that it was a representational technology. In the third wave of critiques, rather than objecting to GIS simply because it represented, scholars engaged with the ways in which GIS represents natural and social phenomena, pointing to the masculinist and heteronormative modes of knowledge production that are bound up in some, but not all, uses and applications of geographic information technologies. In response to these critiques, GIScience scholars and theorists positioned GIS as a critically realist technology by virtue of its commitment to the contingency of representation and its non-universal claims to knowledge production in geography. Contemporary engagements of GIS epistemologies emphasize the epistemological flexibility of geospatial technologies.

FC-02 - Epistemology

Epistemology is the lens through which we view reality. Different epistemologies interpret the earth and patterns on its surface differently. In effect, epistemology is a belief system about the nature of reality that, in turn, structures our interpretation of the world. Common epistemologies in GIScience include (but are not limited by) positivism and realism. However, many researchers are in effect pragmatists in that they choose the filter that best supports their work and a priori hypotheses. Different epistemologies – or ways of knowing and studying geography – result in different ontologies or classification systems. By understanding the role of epistemology, we can better understand different ways of representing the same phenomena.