All Topics

KE-31 - Professional Certification

Professional Certification has been a part of the GIS enterprise for over two decades. There are several different certification programs and related activities now in operation within GIS, though there has been much debate over its merits, how it should be done and by whom. 

PD-11 - Python for GIS

Figure 1. PySAL within QGIS Processing Toolbox: Hot-spot analysis of Homicide Rates in Southern US Counties.


Python is a popular language for geospatial programming and application development. This entry provides an overview of the different development modes that can be adopted for GIS programming with Python and discusses the history of Python adoption in the GIS community. The different layers of the geospatial development stack in Python are examined giving the reader an understanding of the breadth that Python offers to the GIS developer. Future developments and broader issues related to interoperability and programming ecosystems are identified.

PD-15 - R for Geospatial Analysis and Mapping

R is a programming language as well as a computing environment to perform a wide variety of data analysis, statistics, and visualization. One of the reasons for the popularity of R is that it embraces open, transparent scholarship and reproducible research. It is possible to combine content and code in one document, so data, analysis, and graphs are tied together into one narrative, which can be shared with others to recreate analyses and reevaluate interpretations. Different from tools like ArcGIS or QGIS that are specifically built for spatial data, GIS functionality is just one of many things R offers. And while users of dedicated GIS tools typically interact with the software via a point-and-click graphical interface, R requires command-line scripting. Many R users today rely on RStudio, an integrated development environment (IDE) that facilitates the writing of R code and comes with a series of convenient features, like integrated help, data viewer, code completion, and syntax coloring. By using R Markdown, a particular flavor of the Markdown language, RStudio also makes it particularly easy to create documents that embed and execute R code snippets within a text and to render both, static documents (like PDF), as well as interactive html pages, a feature particularly useful for exploratory GIS work and mapping.

DC-26 - Remote Sensing Platforms

Remote sensing means acquiring and measuring information about an object or phenomenon via a device that is not in physical or direct contact with what is being studied (Colwell, 1983).To collect remotely sensed data, a platform – an instrument that carries a remote sensing sensor – is deployed. From the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s, various platforms such as balloons, kites, and pigeons carried mounted cameras to collect visual data of the world below. Today, aircraft (both manned and unmanned) and satellites collect the majority of remotely sensed data. The sensors typically deployed on these platforms include film and digital cameras, light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, and multi-spectral and hyper-spectral scanners. Many of these instruments can be mounted on land-based platforms, such as vans, trucks, tractors, and tanks. In this chapter, we will explore the different types of platforms and their resulting remote sensing applications.

CV-18 - Representing Uncertainty

Using geospatial data involves numerous uncertainties stemming from various sources such as inaccurate or erroneous measurements, inherent ambiguity of the described phenomena, or subjectivity of human interpretation. If the uncertain nature of the data is not represented, ill-informed interpretations and decisions can be the consequence. Accordingly, there has been significant research activity describing and visualizing uncertainty in data rather than ignoring it. Multiple typologies have been proposed to identify and quantify relevant types of uncertainty and a multitude of techniques to visualize uncertainty have been developed. However, the use of such techniques in practice is still rare because standardized methods and guidelines are few and largely untested. This contribution provides an introduction to the conceptualization and representation of uncertainty in geospatial data, focusing on strategies for the selection of suitable representation and visualization techniques.

AM-68 - Rule Learning for Spatial Data Mining

Recent research has identified rule learning as a promising technique for geographic pattern mining and knowledge discovery to make sense of the big spatial data avalanche (Koperski & Han, 1995; Shekhar et al., 2003). Rules conveying associative implications regarding locations, as well as semantic and spatial characteristics of analyzed spatial features, are especially of interest. This overview considers fundamentals and recent advancements in two approaches applied on spatial data: spatial association rule learning and co-location rule learning.

CV-04 - Scale and Generalization

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.

FC-15 - Shape

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.

AM-84 - Simulation Modeling

Advances in computational capacity have enabled dynamic simulation modeling to become increasingly widespread in scientific research. As opposed to conceptual or physical models, simulation models enable numerical experimentation with alternative parametric assumptions for a given model design. Numerous design choices are made in model development that involve continuous or discrete representations of time and space. Simulation modeling approaches include system dynamics, discrete event simulation, agent-based modeling, and multi-method modeling. The model development process involves a shift from qualitative design to quantitative analysis upon implementation of a model in a computer program or software platform. Upon implementation, model analysis is performed through rigorous experimentation to test how model structure produces simulated patterns of behavior over time and space. Validation of a model through correspondence of simulated results with observed behavior facilitates its use as an analytical tool for evaluating strategies and policies that would alter system behavior.

CP-10 - Social Media Analytics

Social media streams have emerged as new sources to support various geospatial applications. However, traditional geospatial tools and systems lack the capacities to process such data streams, which are generated dynamically in extremely large volumes and with versatile contents. Therefore, innovative approaches and frameworks should be developed to detect an emerging event discussed over the social media, understand the extent, consequences of the event, as well as it time-evolving nature, and eventually discover useful patterns. In order to harness social media for geospatial applications, this entry introduces social media analytics technologies for harvesting, managing, mining, analyzing and visualizing the spatial, temporal, text, and network information of social media data.