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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.

DA-01 - GIS&T and Agriculture

Agriculture, whether in the Corn Belt of the United States, the massive rice producing areas of Southeast Asia, or the bean harvest of a smallholder producer in Central America, is the basis for feeding the world. Agriculture systems are highly complex and heterogeneous in both space and time. The need to contextualize this complexity and to make more informed decisions regarding agriculture has led to GIS&T approaches supporting the agricultural sciences in many different areas. Agriculture represents a rich resource of spatiotemporal data and different problem contexts; current and future GIScientists should look toward agricultural as a potentially rewarding area of investigation and, likewise, one where new approaches have the potential to help improve the food, environmental, and economic security of people around the world.

DM-66 - Spatial Indexing

A spatial index is a data structure that allows for accessing a spatial object efficiently. It is a common technique used by spatial databases.  Without indexing, any search for a feature would require a "sequential scan" of every record in the database, resulting in much longer processing time. In a spatial index construction process, the minimum bounding rectangle serves as an object approximation. Various types of spatial indices across commercial and open-source databases yield measurable performance differences. Spatial indexing techniques are playing a central role in time-critical applications and the manipulation of spatial big data.

DC-16 - Nature of Multispectral Image Data

A multispectral image comprises a set of co-registered images, each of which captures the spatially varying brightness of a scene in a specific spectral band, or electromagnetic wavelength region. An image is structured as a raster, or grid, of pixels. Multispectral images are used as a visual backdrop for other GIS layers, to provide information that is manually interpreted from images, or to generate automatically-derived thematic layers, for example through classification. The scale of multispectral images has spatial, spectral, radiometric and temporal components. Each component of scale has two aspects, extent (or coverage), and grain (or resolution). The brightness variations of an image are determined by factors that include (1) illumination variations and effects of the atmosphere, (2) spectral properties of materials in the scene (particularly reflectance, but also, depending on the wavelength, emittance), (3) spectral bands of the sensor, and (4) display options, such as the contrast stretch, which affect the visualization of the image. This topic review focuses primarily on optical remote sensing in the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, with an emphasis on satellite imagery.  

AM-44 - Modelling Accessibility

Modelling accessibility involves combining ideas about destinations, distance, time, and impedances to measure the relative difficulty an individual or aggregate region faces when attempting to reach a facility, service, or resource. In its simplest form, modelling accessibility is about quantifying movement opportunity. Crucial to modelling accessibility is the calculation of the distance, time, or cost distance between two (or more) locations, which is an operation that geographic information systems (GIS) have been designed to accomplish. Measures and models of accessibility thus draw heavily on the algorithms embedded in a GIS and represent one of the key applied areas of GIS&T.

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.

DA-16 - GIS&T and Forestry

GIS applications in forestry are as diverse as the subject itself. Many foresters match a common stereotype as loggers and firefighters, but many protect wildlife, manage urban forests, enhance water quality, provide for recreation, and plan for a sustainable future.  A broad range of management goals drives a broad range of spatial methods, from adjacency functions to zonal analysis, from basic field measurements to complex multi-scale modeling. As such, it is impossible to describe the breadth of GIS&T in forestry. This review will cover core ways that geospatial knowledge improves forest management and science, and will focus on supporting core competencies.  

DM-07 - The Raster Data Model

The raster data model is a widely used method of storing geographic data. The model most commonly takes the form of a grid-like structure that holds values at regularly spaced intervals over the extent of the raster. Rasters are especially well suited for storing continuous data such as temperature and elevation values, but can hold discrete and categorical data such as land use as well.  The resolution of a raster is given in linear units (e.g., meters) or angular units (e.g., one arc second) and defines the extent along one side of the grid cell. High (or fine) resolution rasters have comparatively closer spacing and more grid cells than low (or coarse) resolution rasters, and require relatively more memory to store. Active research in the domain is oriented toward improving compression schemes and implementation for alternative cell shapes (such as hexagons), and better supporting multi-resolution raster storage and analysis functions.

DM-36 - Physical Data Models

Constructs within a particular implementation of database management software guide the development of a physical data model, which is a product of a physical database design process. A physical data model documents how data are to be stored and accessed on storage media of computer hardware.  A physical data model is dependent on specific data types and indexing mechanisms used within database management system software.  Data types such as integers, reals, character strings, plus many others can lead to different storage structures. Indexing mechanisms such as region-trees and hash functions and others lead to differences in access performance.  Physical data modeling choices about data types and indexing mechanisms related to storage structures refine details of a physical database design. Data types associated with field, record and file storage structures together with the access mechanisms to those structures foster (constrain) performance of a database design. Since all software runs using an operating system, field, record, and file storage structures must be translated into operating system constructs to be implemented.  As such, all storage structures are contingent on the operating system and particular hardware that host data management software. 

AM-69 - Cellular Automata

Cellular automata (CA) are simple models that can simulate complex processes in both space and time. A CA consists of six defining components: a framework, cells, a neighborhood, rules, initial conditions, and an update sequence. CA models are simple, nominally deterministic yet capable of showing phase changes and emergence, map easily onto the data structures used in geographic information systems, and are easy to implement and understand. This has contributed to their popularity for applications such as measuring land use changes and monitoring disease spread, among many others.