• SPATIAL DATABASES •
The various branches of geospatial technology have one thing in common. They originate and/or work with georeferenced data. Georeferencing of data is accomplished through the use of standardized computer file structures called spatial databases. Spatial databases are like "regular" databases in that they contain multiple elements (records) all using the same set of attributes to describe the "what is" aspect of each record. In a spatial database, the "where is" aspect of a chunk of information is expressed in a well-defined numeric addressing system and fused together with the "what is" aspect.
The computer files themselves conform to rigorous standards. The work of building spatial databases from instrument readings and on-the-ground observations is called "mapping".
The job of a database is to store a large amount of data so that it is both accessible and secure.
Spatial databases have to deal with the added complexity of storing spatial information, while maintaining
high levels of capacity, accessibility and security.
New database designs are always being developed because there is continuing demand for data file designs
that are larger, faster and more secure. So folks that are new to geospatial technology not only have to get
a handle on databases (foreign territory for many) and spatial databases (foreign territory for almost everyone).
They also have to become familiar with the many flavors of spatial databases that are in common use:
• Geospatial Technology & Georeferenced Data page on the ottergeospatial.info website.
Authorship and Metadata
A spatial database is an academic and/or technical publication in the same sense as a journal article or reference book. When employing geospatial technology in an academic setting, literature searches should include a critical evaluation of the databases that will be used for reference. Data that is robust enough to use for reference generally comes with extensive authorship and methods information (metadata).
When we employ one of our computer software tools to organize and/or analyze spatially referenced data, we often become authors of one or more spatial databases ourselves. For our work to have lasting value, we need to develop and package it in accordance with published standards. We also need to document our work so that its useablility and robustness will be readily apparent to future users.
The term "mapping" has several connotations. In geospatial technology, we are use it to refer to the integration of spatial references and descriptive information in spatial databases.
|EXAMPLE - Our geospatial data archive contains a "Brown County Street Centerlines" database. Each of the 26,000 records in the database corresponds to a segment of a street and each record furnishes a set of attribute values pertaining to that segment. There are 50 attributes in all - Name1, Name2, Type, SPEED_LIMIT to list a few. In addition to creating a table of attributes for the street segments, the authors mapped the street data - each record contains coordinate pairs that define the location of the street segment on the earth's surface.|