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Geographic information systems. (English) Zbl 0969.68541
Kuper, Gabriel (ed.) et al., Constraint databases. Berlin: Springer. 175-198 (2000).
Summary: Geographic information is information about phenomena occurring above, on, and below the earth’s surface. Geographic information is represented in maps. A map contains geographic objects, such as land parcels, rivers, and roads, that are related to the same geographic area. Any geographic object has the following components:
– The component referred to as the spatial, geometric attribute, or spatial extent. This component describes the location, shape, orientation, and size of the object in two- or three-dimensional space.
– The component that describes the object by means of nonspatial attributes. These attributes are also referred to as thematic or desriptive attributes.
Note that the above characteristics are not specific to geographic information. For example, VLSI layout description also deals with objects with an extent in a multi-dimensional space. This is why spatial information systems (SIS) should be preferred as a more generic term for such information systems. SIS should be distinguished from image information systems or image databases that manage collections of two- or three-dimensional scenes. Medical databases, electronic documents, cultural heritage collections are examples of image sources. They support the search for scenes that contain certain objects or patterns. Location, direction, or size of the object are usually of little importance – a major difference from SIS, where these search criteria play an important role. Image databases will not be discussed further here.
So far, we have assumed that geographic information does not vary with time. Equivalently, geographic information as described above corresponds to a snapshot in time. Although the technology for dealing with it does not yet exist, spatial information evolving with time, known as spatio-temporal information, is needed in many geographic applications. Examples of spatiotemporal phenomena that we would like to model and query include, for example, boats moving in a bay or the effect of the tide on a coastline. Taking time into account could be seen as increasing by one the space cimension of the multi-dimensional component (spatio-temporal component).
For the entire collection see [Zbl 0935.00022].
MSC:
 68U35 Computing methodologies for information systems (hypertext navigation, interfaces, decision support, etc.)