Data Capture

The capture of massive quantities of spatial data, able to be distributed and shared in real time, provide for an ever-increasing range of environmental and societal applications. Data capture includes the principles, methods, technologies, applications, and institutional/programmatic aspects of spatial data acquisition. Sources of data include global navigation satellite systems, satellite and aerial sensing, field surveys, land records, socioeconomic data (e.g., census), volunteered geographic information, wireless sensor networks, and unmanned aerial systems.

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


History & Trends Processing Remotely-Sensed Data
Changes in Data Capture Methods Over Time Image Interpretation: Aerial Photography & Satellites
Georeferencing and Georectifying Feature Extraction in Satellite Imagery
Digital Data Sources & Capture Methods Ground Verification and Accuracy Assessment
Historical (Paper) Maps Spectral Properties of Terrestrial Surfaces
Global Navigation Satellite Systems Structure from Motion Photogrammetry
Mobile Applications GIS and Surveying
Aerial Photography: History & Georeferencing Professional Land Surveying
Ground or Street-Level Imagery Land records
Social Media Platforms Ocean Surveying
Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) Field Data Collection
Remote Sensing Platforms & Sensors Sampling: Size Selection, Sample Types, Intervals
Remote Sensing Platforms overview Field Data Capture Technologies
Nature of multispectral image data U.S. Census Data
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Data Coordinating Organizations
Landsat Multi-Organizational GIS Coordination
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Federal Agencies & National Organizations and Programs
Indoor LiDAR Scanning International Organizations & Programs
Thermal Imagery  
Radar, Sonar, and Echolocation  
Hyperspectral Imagery  
Airborne LiDAR Bathymetry  


DC-28 - United States Census Data

The Census Bureau collects extensive numeric data on the residents of the United States as well ast the national economy.  This is accomplished both through a decennial census as well as numerous other more frequent surveys. The decennial census is a fundamental basis of American democracy, mandated by the U.S. Constitution and essential for the equal representation in a democratic government. Numeric census data are maintained in vast collections of tables and organized at many different levels of geographies. From the Census website, the geographic and tabular data can be downloaded and then joined for display and analysis within a GIS. Because of the nature of individual data aggregated over areas and other matters, care must be taken to avoid statistical errors when undertaking spatial analyses.

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.

DC-14 - Vector data extraction
  • Describe the source data, instrumentation, and workflow involved in extracting vector data (features and elevations) from analog and digital stereoimagery
  • Discuss future prospects for automated feature extraction from aerial imagery
  • Discuss the extent to which vector data extraction from aerial stereoimagery has been automated