Data Management

Data management involves the theories and techniques for managing the entire data lifecycle, from data collection to data format conversion, from data storage to data sharing and retrieval, to data provenance, data quality control and data curation for long-term data archival and preservation.

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


Spatial Databases Spatial Access Methods Georeferencing Systems
Spatial Database Management Systems Data Retrieval Strategies Earth's Shape, Sea Level, and the Geoid
Use of Relational DBMSs Spatial Indexing Geographic Coordinate Systems
Object-Oriented DBMSs Space-driven Structures: Grid, linear quadtree, and z-ordering tree files Planar Coordinate Systems
Relational DBMS (and extensions) Data-driven structures: R-trees and cost models Tesselated Referencing Systems
Topological Relationships Modeling Unstructured Spatial Data Linear Referencing
Database Administration Modeling Semi-Structured Spatial Data Vertical Datums
Conceptual Data Models   Horizontal Datums
Logical Data Models Query Processing Georegistration
Physical Data Models Optimal I/O Algorithms Map Projections
NoSQL Databases Spatial Joins  
Problems with Large Spatial Databases Complex Queries Data Manipulation
Array Databases Spatial Data Infrastructures Point, Line, and Area Generalization
Representations of Spatial Objects Metadata Vector-to-Raster and Raster-to-Vector Conversions
Events and Processes Content Standards Raster Resampling
Raster Data Models Data Warehouses Coordinate Transformations
Vector Data Models Spatial Data Infrastructures Transaction Management
Topological Models U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure  
Network Models Ontology for Geospatial Semantic Interoperability  
Modeling 3D Entities Hydrographic Geospatial Data Standards  
Fields in Space and Time Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure  
Fuzzy Models    
Triangulated Irregular Network Models    
Genealogical Relationships, Linkage, and Inheritance    
Geospatial Data Conflation    


DM-28 - Topological relationships
  • Define various terms used to describe topological relationships, such as disjoint, overlap, within, and intersect
  • List the possible topological relationships between entities in space (e.g., 9-intersection) and time
  • Use methods that analyze topological relationships
  • Recognize the contributions of topology (the branch of mathematics) to the study of geographic relationships
  • Describe geographic phenomena in terms of their topological relationships in space and time to other phenomena
DM-79 - U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure

Spatial data infrastructures may be thought of as socio-technical frameworks for coordinating the development, management, sharing and use of geospatial data across multiple organizational jurisdictions and varying geographic extents. The United States was an early adopter of the SDI concept and the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) is an example of a country-wide SDI implementation facilitated by coordination at the federal-government level. At the time of its establishment in the early 1990s, a unique characteristic of the NSDI was a mandate for federal agencies to establish partnerships with state- and local-level government. This entry summarizes the origins of the NSDI’s establishment, its original core components and how they’ve evolved over the last 25 years, the role of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the anticipated impact of passage of the Geospatial Data Act of 2018. For broader technical information about SDIs, readers are referred to GIST BoK Entry DM-60: Spatial Data Infrastructures (Hu and Li 2017). For additional details on the history of the NSDI, readers are referred to Rhind (1999). For the latest information on recent and emerging NSDI initiatives, please visit the FGDC web site (  

DM-86 - Vector-to-raster and raster-to-vector conversions
  • Explain how the vector/raster/vector conversion process of graphic images and algorithms takes place and how the results are achieved
  • Create estimated tessellated data sets from point samples or isolines using interpolation operations that are appropriate to the specific situation
  • Illustrate the impact of vector/raster/vector conversions on the quality of a dataset
  • Convert vector data to raster format and back using GIS software
DM-51 - Vertical datums
  • Explain how a vertical datum is established
  • Differentiate between NAVD 29 and NAVD 88
  • Illustrate the difference between a vertical datum and a geoid
  • Illustrate the relationship among the concepts ellipsoidal (or geodetic) height, geoidal height, and orthometric elevation
  • Outline the historical development of vertical datums