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DM-85 - Point, Line, and Area Generalization

Generalization is an important and unavoidable part of making maps because geographic features cannot be represented on a map without undergoing transformation. Maps abstract and portray features using vector (i.e. points, lines and polygons) and raster (i.e pixels) spatial primitives which are usually labeled. These spatial primitives are subjected to further generalization when map scale is changed. Generalization is a contradictory process. On one hand, it alters the look and feel of a map to improve overall user experience especially regarding map reading and interpretive analysis. On the other hand, generalization has documented quality implications and can sacrifice feature detail, dimensions, positions or topological relationships. A variety of techniques are used in generalization and these include selection, simplification, displacement, exaggeration and classification. The techniques are automated through computer algorithms such as Douglas-Peucker and Visvalingam-Whyatt in order to enhance their operational efficiency and create consistent generalization results. As maps are now created easily and quickly, and used widely by both experts and non-experts owing to major advances in IT, it is increasingly important for virtually everyone to appreciate the circumstances, techniques and outcomes of generalizing maps. This is critical to promoting better map design and production as well as socially appropriate uses.

DM-60 - Spatial Data Infrastructures

Spatial data infrastructure (SDI) is the infrastructure that facilitates the discovery, access, management, distribution, reuse, and preservation of digital geospatial resources. These resources may include maps, data, geospatial services, and tools. As cyberinfrastructures, SDIs are similar to other infrastructures, such as water supplies and transportation networks, since they play fundamental roles in many aspects of the society. These roles have become even more significant in today’s big data age, when a large volume of geospatial data and Web services are available. From a technological perspective, SDIs mainly consist of data, hardware, and software. However, a truly functional SDI also needs the efforts of people, supports from organizations, government policies, data and software standards, and many others. In this chapter, we will present the concepts and values of SDIs, as well as a brief history of SDI development in the U.S. We will also discuss the components of a typical SDI, and will specifically focus on three key components: geoportals, metadata, and search functions. Examples of the existing SDI implementations will also be discussed.  

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-21 - Resolution

Resolution in the spatial domain refers to the size of the smallest measurement unit observed or recorded for an object, such as pixels in a remote sensing image or line segments used to record a curve. Resolution, also called the measurement scale, is considered one of the four major dimensions of scale, along with the operational scale, observational scale, and cartographic scale. Like the broader concept of scale, resolution is a fundamental consideration in GIScience because it affects the reliability of a study and contributes to the uncertainties of the findings and conclusions. While resolution effects may never be eliminated, techniques such as fractals could be used to reveal the multi-resolution property of a phenomenon and help guide the selection of resolution level for a study.

FC-11 - Set Theory

Basic mathematical set theory is presented and illustrated with a few examples from GIS. The focus is on set theory first, with subsequent interpretation in some GIS contexts ranging from story maps to municipal planning to language use. The breadth of interpretation represents not only the foundational universality of set theory within the broad realm of GIS but is also reflective of set theory's fundamental role in mathematics and its numerous applications. Beyond the conventional, the reader is taken to see glimpses of set theory not commonly experienced in the world of GIS and asked to imagine where else they might apply. Initial broad exposure leaves room for the mind to grow into deep and rich fields flung far across the globe of academia. Direction toward such paths is offered within the text and in additional resources, all designed to broaden the horizons of the open-minded reader.

FC-26 - Problems of Scale and Zoning

Spatial data are often encoded within a set of spatial units that exhaustively partition a region, where individual level data are aggregated, or continuous data are summarized, over a set of spatial units. Such is the case with census data aggregated to enumeration units for public dissemination. Partitioning schemes can vary by scale, where one partitioning scheme spatially nests within another, or by zoning, where two partitioning schemes have the same number of units but the unit shapes and boundaries differ. The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) refers to the fact the nature of spatial partitioning can affect the interpretation and results of visualization and statistical analysis. Generally, coarser scales of data aggregation tend to have stronger observed statistical associations among variables. The ecological fallacy refers to the assumption that an individual has the same attributes as the aggregate group to which it belongs. Combining spatial data with different partitioning schemes to facilitate analysis is often problematic. Areal interpolation may be used to estimate data over small areas or ecological inference may be used to infer individual behaviors from aggregate data. Researchers may also perform analyses at multiple scales as a point of comparison.

DM-34 - Conceptual Data Models

Within an initial phase of database design, a conceptual data model is created as a technology-independent specification of the data to be stored within a database. This specification often times takes the form of a formalized diagram.  The process of conceptual data modeling is meant to foster shared understanding among data modelers and stakeholders when creating the specification.  As such, a conceptual data model should be easily readable by people with little or no technical-computer-based expertise because a comprehensive view of information is more important than a detailed view. In a conceptual data model, entity classes are categories of things (person, place, thing, etc.) that have attributes for describing the characteristics of the things.  Relationships can exist between the entity classes.  Entity-relationship diagrams have been and are likely to continue to be a popular way of characterizing entity classes, attributes and relationships.  Various notations for diagrams have been used over the years. The main intent about a conceptual data model and its corresponding entity-relationship diagram is that they should highlight the content and meaning of data within stakeholder information contexts, while postponing the specification of logical structure to the second phase of database design called logical data modeling. 

DM-52 - Horizontal (Geometric) Datums

A horizontal (geometric) datum provides accurate coordinates (e.g., latitude and longitude) for points on Earth’s surface. Historically, surveyors developed a datum using optically sighted instruments to manually place intervisible survey marks in the ground. This survey work incorporated geometric principles of baselines, distances, and azimuths through the process of triangulation to attach a coordinate value to each survey mark. Triangulation produced a geodetic network of interconnected survey marks that realized the datum (i.e., connecting the geometry of the network to Earth’s physical surface). For local surveys, these datums provided reasonable positional accuracies on the order of meters. Importantly, once placed in the ground, these survey marks were passive; a new survey was needed to determine any positional changes (e.g., due to plate motion) and to update the attached coordinate values. Starting in the 1950s, due to the implementation of active control, space-based satellite geodesy changed how geodetic networks were realized. Here, "active" implies that a survey mark’s coordinates are updated in near real-time through, for example, artificial satellites such as GNSS. Increasingly, GNSS and satellite geodesy is paving the way for a modernized geometric datum that is global in scope and capable of providing positional accuracies at the millimeter level.

FC-04 - Perception and Cognitive Processing of Geographic Phenomena: a Choropleth Map Case Study

The near ubiquity of maps has created a population the is well adept at reading and understanding maps.  But, while maps are familiar, understanding how the human brain processes that information is less known.  Discussing the processing of geographic phenomena could take different avenues: specific geospatial thinking skills, general perception and cognition processes, or even different parts of the human brain that are invoked when thinking geographically.  This entry focuses on tracing the processing of geographic phenomena using a choropleth map case study, beginning from perception — the moment the phenomena enter the human brain via our senses, to cognition — how meaning and understanding are generated. 

FC-24 - Conceptual Models of Error and Uncertainty

Uncertainty and error are integral parts of science and technology, including GIS&T, as they are of most human endeavors. They are important characteristics of knowledge, which is very seldom perfect. Error and uncertainty both affect our understanding of the present and the past, and our expectations from the future. ‘Uncertainty’ is sometimes used as the umbrella term for a number of related concepts, of which ‘error’ is the most important in GIS and in most other data-intensive fields. Very often, uncertainty is the result of error (or suspected error).  As concepts, both uncertainty and error are complex, each having several different versions, interpretations, and kinds of impacts on the quality of GIS products, and on the uses and decisions that users may make on their basis. This section provides an overview of the kinds of uncertainty and common sources of error in GIS&T, the role of a number of additional related concepts in refining our understanding of different forms of imperfect knowledge, the problems of uncertainty and error in the context of decision-making, especially regarding actions with important future consequences, and some standard as well as more exploratory approaches to handling uncertainties about the future. While uncertainty and error are in general undesirable, they may also point to unsuspected aspects of an issue and thus help generate new insights.

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