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FC-27 - Thematic Accuracy Assessment

Geographic Information System (GIS) applications often involve various analytical techniques and geographic data to produce thematic maps for gaining a better understanding of geospatial situations to support spatial decisions. Accuracy assessment of a thematic map is necessary for evaluating the quality of the research results and ensuring appropriate use of the geographic data. Thematic accuracy deals with evaluating the accuracy of the attributes or labels of mapped features by comparing them to a reference that is assumed to be true. The fundamental practice presents the remote sensing approach to thematic accuracy assessment as a good guidance. For instance, the accuracy of a remote sensing image can be represented as an error matrix when the map and reference classification are conducted based on categories. This entry introduces basic concepts and techniques used in conducting thematic accuracy with an emphasis on land cover classification based on remote sensing images. The entry first introduces concepts of spatial uncertainty and spatial data quality standards and further gives an example of how spatial data quality affects thematic accuracy. Additionally, the entry illustrates the techniques that can be used to access thematic accuracy as well as using spatial autocorrelation in thematic accuracy sampling design.

FC-12 - Structured Query Language (SQL) and attribute queries

The structured query language (SQL) for database interrogation is presented and illustrated with a few examples using attribute tables one might find in a common GIS database.  A short background is presented on the history and goals that the creators of the SQL language hoped to achieve, followed by a review of SQL utility for data query, editing, and definition.  While the SQL language is rich in content and breadth, this article attempts to build on a simple SQL and then iteratively add additional complexity to highlight the power that SQL affords to the GIS professional who has limited programming capabilities.  The reader is asked to consider how minor modifications to SQL syntax can add complexity and even create more dynamic mathematical models with simple English-like command statements.  Finally, the reader is challenged to consider how terse SQL statements may be used to replace relatively long and laborious command sequences required by a GIS GUI approach.

FC-31 - Academic Developments of GIS&T in English-speaking Countries: a Partial History

The constellation of science and technology that is now considered a unit (Geographic Information Science and Technology – GIS&T) has emerged from many source disciplines through many divergent and convergent pasts in different times and places. This narrative limits itself to the perspective of the English-speaking community, leaving other regions for a separate chapter As in the case of many technical developments in the second half of the twentieth century, academic institutions played a key (though far from exclusive) role in innovation and risk-taking. In a number of locations, academic innovators tried out new technology for handling geographic information, beginning as early as the 1960s. Three institutions (University of Washington, Laboratory for Computer Graphics – Harvard University, and Experimental Cartography Unit – Royal College of Art (UK)) deserve particular treatment as examples of the early innovation process. Their innovations may look crude by current standards, but they laid some groundwork for later developments. Academic institutions played a key role in innovation over the past decades, but the positioning of that role has shifted as first government, then commercial sectors have taken the lead in certain aspects of GIS&T. Current pressures on the academic sector may act to reduce this role.

FC-42 - Distance Operations

Distance is a central concept in geography, and consequently, there are various types of operations that leverage the concept of distance. This short article introduces common distance measures, the purpose of distance operations, different types of operations and considerations, as well as sample applications in the physical and social domains. Distance operations can be performed on both vector or raster data, but the operations and results may differ. While performing distance operations, it is important to remember how distance is conceptualized while performing the operation.

FC-40 - Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods mean different things in varied contexts like computational geometry, administration and planning, as well as urban geography and other fields. Among the multiple contexts, computational geometry takes the most abstract and data-oriented approach: polygon neighborhoods refer to polygons sharing a boundary or a point, and point neighborhoods are defined by connected Thiessen polygons or other more complicated algorithms. Neighborhoods in some regions can be a practical and clearly delineated administration or planning units. In urban geography and some related social sciences, the terms neighborhood and community have been used interchangeably on many occasions, and neighborhoods can be a fuzzy and general concept with no clear boundaries such that they cannot be easily or consensually defined. Neighborhood effects have a series of unique meanings and several delineation methods are commonly used to define social and environmental effects in health applications.

FC-02 - Epistemology

Epistemology is the lens through which we view reality. Different epistemologies interpret the earth and patterns on its surface differently. In effect, epistemology is a belief system about the nature of reality that, in turn, structures our interpretation of the world. Common epistemologies in GIScience include (but are not limited by) positivism and realism. However, many researchers are in effect pragmatists in that they choose the filter that best supports their work and a priori hypotheses. Different epistemologies – or ways of knowing and studying geography – result in different ontologies or classification systems. By understanding the role of epistemology, we can better understand different ways of representing the same phenomena.

FC-03 - Philosophical Perspectives

This entry follows in the footsteps of Anselin’s famous 1989 NCGIA working paper entitled “What is special about spatial?” (a report that is very timely again in an age when non-spatial data scientists are ignorant of the special characteristics of spatial data), where he outlines three unrelated but fundamental characteristics of spatial data. In a similar vein, I am going to discuss some philosophical perspectives that are internally unrelated to each other and could warrant individual entries in this Body of Knowledge. The first one is the notions of space and time and how they have evolved in philosophical discourse over the past three millennia. Related to these are aspects of absolute versus relative conceptions of these two fundamental constructs. The second is a brief introduction to key philosophical approaches and how they impact geospatial science and technology use today. The third is a discussion of which of the promises of the Quantitative Revolution in Geography and neighboring disciplines have been fulfilled by GIScience (and what is still missing). The fourth and final one is an introduction to the role that GIScience may play in what has recently been formalized as theory-guided data science.

FC-36 - Events and Processes
  • Compare and contrast the concepts of continuants (entities) and occurrents (events)
  • Describe the “actor” role that entities and fields play in events and processes
  • Discuss the difficulty of integrating process models into GIS software based on the entity and field views, and methods used to do so
  • Apply or develop formal systems for describing continuous spatio-temporal processes
  • Evaluate the assertion that “events and processes are the same thing, but viewed at different temporal scales”
  • Describe particular events or processes in terms of identity, categories, attributes, and locations
  • Compare and contrast the concepts of event and process