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FC-13 - Spatial Queries

Spatial query is a crucial GIS capability that distinguishes GIS from other graphic information systems. It refers to the search for spatial features based on their spatial relations with other features. This article introduces a spatial query's essential components, including target feature(s), reference feature(s), and the spatial relation between them.  The spatial relation is the core component in a spatial query. The document introduces the three types of spatial relations in GIS: proximity relations, topological relations, and direction relations, along with query examples to show the translation of spatial problems to spatial queries based on each type of relations. It then discusses the characteristics of the reasoning process for each type of spatial relations. Except for topological relations, the other two types of spatial relations can be measured either quantitatively as metric values or qualitatively as verbal expressions. Finally, the general approaches to carrying out spatial queries are summarized. Depending on the availability of built-in query functions and the unique nature of a query, a user can conduct the query by using built-in functions in a GIS program, writing and executing SQL statements in a spatial database, or using customized query tools.