Computing Platforms

Computing Platforms provide the computational capabilities to apply methods and models to geographic data. Computing Platforms vary in capability, price, and availability from mobile devices to advanced supercomputers and from standalone computers to complex networked infrastructures to address different user needs and data-processing workloads.

Topics in this Knowledge Area are listed thematically below. Existing topics are in regular font and linked directly to their original entries (published in 2006; these contain only Learning Objectives). Entries that have been updated and expanded are in bold. Forthcoming, future topics are italicized

Computing Infrastructures: Software Systems
Graphics Processing Units Spatial Database Management Systems (DBMS)
The Cloud Spatial MapReduce
Mobile Devices Artificial Intelligence
Cyberinfrastructure Software Systems
  Web GIS
Computing Approaches: Enterprise GIS
Origins of Computing & GIS&T: a Computer Systems Perspective  Geospatial Technology Transfer Opportunities
Origins of Computing & GIS&T: a Perspective on the Role of Peripheral Devices Examples and Applications
High Throughput Computing and GIS Google Earth Engine
High Performance Computing and GIS ArcGIS Online
Grid Computing Jupyter Notebooks
Pervasive/Ubiquitous Computing Amazon Web Services
Science Gateways Apache Spark
  eScience
Networks and Services:  
Location-based Services  
Internet of Things  
Social Media Analytics  
Social Networks  
Security  
Web Services  

 

CP-04 - Artificial intelligence
  • Describe computational intelligence methods that may apply to GIS&T
  • Exemplify the potential for machine learning to expand performance of specialized geospatial analysis functions
  • Identify artificial intelligence tools that may be useful for GIS&T
  • Describe a hypothesis space that includes searches for optimality of solutions within that space
CP-07 - 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).

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.

PD-13 - GPU Programming for GIS Applications

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are massively parallel computing environments with applications in graphics and general purpose programming. This entry describes GPU hardware, application domains, and both graphics and general purpose programming languages.

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.  

CP-03 - High performance computing
  • Describe how the power increase in desktop computing has expanded the analytic methods that can be used for GIS&T
  • Exemplify how the power increase in desktop computing has expanded the analytic methods that can be used for GIS&T
CP-12 - Location-Based Services

Location-Based Services (LBS) are mobile applications that provide information depending on the location of the user. To make LBS work, different system components are needed, i.e., mobile devices, positioning, communication networks, and service and content provider. Almost every LBS application needs several key elements to handle the main tasks of positioning, data modeling, and information communication. With the rapid advances in mobile information technologies, LBS have become ubiquitous in our daily lives with many application fields, such as navigation and routing, social networking, entertainment, and healthcare. Several challenges also exist in the domain of LBS, among which privacy is a primary one. This topic introduces the key components and technologies, modeling, communication, applications, and the challenges of LBS.

CP-15 - Mobile Devices

Mobile devices refer to a computing system intended to be used by hand, such as smartphones or tablet computers. Mobile devices more broadly refer to mobile sensors and other hardware that has been made for relatively easy transportability, including wearable fitness trackers. Mobile devices are particularly relevant to Geographic Information Systems and Technology (GIS&T) in that they house multiple locational sensors that were until recently very expensive and only accessible to highly trained professionals. Now, mobile devices serve an important role in computing platform infrastructure and are key tools for collecting information and disseminating information to, from, and among heterogeneous and spatially dispersed audiences and devices. Due to the miniaturization and the decrease in the cost of computing capabilities, there has been widespread social uptake of mobile devices, making them ubiquitous. Mobile devices are embedded in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) meaning GIScience is increasingly permeating lived experiences and influencing social norms through the use of mobile devices. In this entry, locational sensors are described, with computational considerations specifically for mobile computing. Mobile app development is described in terms of key considerations for native versus cross-platform development. Finally, mobile devices are contextualized within computational infrastructure, addressing backend and frontend considerations.

CP-16 - On the Origins of Computing and GIS&T: Part I, A Computer Systems Perspective

This paper describes the evolutionary path of hardware systems and the hardware-software interfaces that were used for GIS&T development during its “childhood”, the era from approximately the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.  The article is structured using a conceptualization that developments occurred during this period in three overlapping epochs that have distinctive modes of interactivity and user control: mainframes, minicomputers and workstations.  The earliest GIS&T applications were developed using expensive mainframe computer systems, usually manufactured by IBM. These mainframes typically had memory measured in kilobytes and operated in batch mode with jobs submitted using punched cards as input.  Many such systems used an obscure job control language with a rigid syntax. FORTRAN was the predominant language used for GIS&T software development. Technological developments, and associated cost reductions, led to the diffusion of minicomputers and a shift away from IBM. Further developments led to the widespread adoption of single user workstations that initially used commodity processors and later switched to reduced instruction set chips. Many minicomputers and workstations ran some variant of the UNIX operating system, which substantially improved user interactivity.

CP-32 - Origins of Computing and GIST: Part 2, Perspective on Role of Peripheral Devices

GIS implementations in the late-1960s to mid-1980s required the use of exotic peripheral devices to encode and display geospatial information. Data encoding was normally performed in one of two modes: automated raster scanning and manual (vector) coordinate recording.  Raster scanning systems in this era were extremely expensive, operated in batch mode, and were located at a limited number of centralized facilities, such as federal mapping agencies. Coordinate digitizers were more widely distributed and were often configured with dedicated minicomputers to handle editing and formatting tasks. Data display devices produced hardcopy and softcopy output.  Two commonly encountered hardcopy devices were line printers and pen plotters. Softcopy display consisted of cathode ray tube devices that operated using frame buffer and storage tube technologies. Each device was driven by specialized software provided by device manufacturers, leading to widespread hardware-software incompatibly. This problem led to the emergence of device independence to promote increased levels of interoperability among disparate input and output devices.

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