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DA-47 - GIS&T in International Affairs

GIS applications within the International Affairs domain are vast, and they include: the analysis and representation of flows and stops of people, resources, and capital across borders, humanitarian assistance, war, conflict, and surveillance, and analysis of border-crossing spatial phenomena such as natural disasters and climate change.

Due to the wide range of potential thematic data, GIS for International Affairs should be a balance of hands-on practical application skills and critical thinking about spatial concepts of scale, boundaries, borders, and flows. GIS scholars and practitioners in this domain should learn to think critically about how and where spatial data is created, the people and cultures impacted by spatial data-driven decisions, and the equity of who is involved in such decisions. Students should learn how spatial data is created, how major datasets in the field are built, and how to design datasets during fieldwork for robust spatial analysis. Through all of this, critical thinking around which people and places are counted and represented should be maintained.

GIS in International Affairs must always contend with the colonial history of cartography, seeking now to understand how modern-day spatial technologies are always constituted by and embedded in constructions of power.

AM-84 - Simulation Modeling

Advances in computational capacity have enabled dynamic simulation modeling to become increasingly widespread in scientific research. As opposed to conceptual or physical models, simulation models enable numerical experimentation with alternative parametric assumptions for a given model design. Numerous design choices are made in model development that involve continuous or discrete representations of time and space. Simulation modeling approaches include system dynamics, discrete event simulation, agent-based modeling, and multi-method modeling. The model development process involves a shift from qualitative design to quantitative analysis upon implementation of a model in a computer program or software platform. Upon implementation, model analysis is performed through rigorous experimentation to test how model structure produces simulated patterns of behavior over time and space. Validation of a model through correspondence of simulated results with observed behavior facilitates its use as an analytical tool for evaluating strategies and policies that would alter system behavior.

GS-14 - GIS and Critical Ethics

This entry discusses and defines ethical critiques and GIS. It complements other GIS&T Body of Knowledge entries on Professional and Practical Ethics and Codes of Ethics for GIS Professionals. Critical ethics is presented as the attempt to provide a better understanding of data politics. Knowledge is never abstract or non-material. Spatial data, as a form of knowledge, may mask, conceal, disallow or disavow, even as it speaks, permits and claims. A critical ethics of GIS investigates this situated power-knowledge. Two concepts from educational pedagogy are suggested: threshold and troublesome knowledge. As we use and continue to learn GIS, these concepts may enrich our experience by usefully leading us astray. This points finally to how ethical critique is practical, empirical and political, rather than abstract or theoretical.

AM-04 - Overlay

Overlay operation is a critical and powerful tool in GIS that superimposes spatial and attribute information from various thematic map layers to produce new information. Overlay operations facilitate spatial analysis and modeling processes when being used with other spatial operations (e.g. buffer, dissolve, merge) to solve real-world problems. For both vector and raster data models, the input layers need to be spatially aligned precisely with each other to ensure a correct overlay operation. In general, vector overlay is geometrically and computationally complex. Some most used vector overlay operations include intersection, union, erase, and clip. Raster overlay combines multiple raster layers cell by cell through Boolean, arithmetic, or comparison operators. This article provides an overview of the fundamentals of overlay operations, how they are implemented in vector and raster data, and how suitability analysis is conducted.

AM-78 - Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computing

Genetic algorithms (GAs) are a family of search methods that have been shown to be effective in finding optimal or near-optimal solutions to a wide range of optimization problems. A GA maintains a population of solutions to the problem being solved and uses crossover, mutation, and selection operations to iteratively modify them. As the population evolves across generations, better solutions are created and inferior ones are selectively discarded. GAs usually run for a fixed number of iterations (generations) or until further improvements do not obtain. This contribution discusses the fundamental principles of genetic algorithms and uses Python code to illustrate how GAs can be developed for both numerical and spatial optimization problems. Computational experiments are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of GAs and to illustrate some nuances in GA design.

AM-94 - Machine Learning Approaches

Machine learning approaches are increasingly used across numerous applications in order to learn from data and generate new knowledge discoveries, advance scientific studies and support automated decision making. In this knowledge entry, the fundamentals of Machine Learning (ML) are introduced, focusing on how feature spaces, models and algorithms are being developed and applied in geospatial studies. An example of a ML workflow for supervised/unsupervised learning is also introduced. The main challenges in ML approaches and our vision for future work are discussed at the end.

PD-37 - Open Source Software Development

Open source geospatial software is now ubiquitous – it is used and supported across industries, in government agencies, as well as research institutions and academia. This entry describes general principles of open source software development and provides an overview of the development platforms and tools. Specific focus is on the Open Source Geospatial Foundation’s software stack, its development principles, practices, and initiatives. Several additional major open source software systems with geospatial support are also briefly discussed with examples of open source applications developed by integrating multiple libraries and packages.

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.