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“Geospatial data, GIS data or geodata has explicit geographic positioning information included within it, such as a road network from a GIS, or a geo-referenced satellite image.” (1)
Geospatial term specifies two things – ‘Geo’ and ‘Spatial’. Geographical factors, is combined with spatial management, to create a geospatial data. These are almost three dimensional, and have much better information factor than a normal map.
A geospatial data is developed to guide people in the field of environment, defence, life sciences, transportation etc. To develop a GIS data, it is necessary to go through various stages. Some of them include-
- Gather appropriate data, and consolidate them together
- Finally, putting up the whole thing, and executing it.
When a department tries to develop a geospatial data, it puts in this information which is necessary for their own research. For example – a geologist might not be putting in traffic signal s and tunnels, rather, he would be putting in the ecological and geological factors present in the area for which the is developing the data.
Each and every geospatial data is specific. If it is developed by the government for general purposes like houses and facilities provided in a particular area, it will contain information about them, if it is developed by marine biologists, it will contain a different set of information like ocean area, sea weed presence, etc. So, GIS gives a complete picture of an area, with respect to what we are looking for.
There are two types of geospatial data- these are used depending upon the audience it is catering for, and how well one is comfortable of studying the data presented.
A raster data uses Grids in the form of rows and columns and a vector data uses points, lines or polygons to represent the same data.
Geospatial analysis is even used in intelligence and defence now. With the advent of more modern technologies like i-phones and smart phones, each and every service provider develops their own GIS data for their customers. Again, these data are mostly catering to the transportation part and not on any other specific geographic or science data.
Geospatial data is a very common feature nowadays. But, to understand them, one needs to know what sort of data they have in hand, since all geospatial data are not the same at all.
Geospatial data is a data which identifies the geographical location of features, and boundaries of earth – both manmade and natural.
As a traveller, we have been using maps to guide us to a certain unknown place we are travelling to. Maps have been extensively created, with minute details like road names, and arrows marking directions.
But, as every one of us will accept, it is not so easy to understand a map given to you. A thorough checking of the map, and from which direction it needs to be done, is needed to start studying a map.
So, what happens, when you have a problem with directions, and you need direction to be read immediately from the map? When some of us may take it up as a challenge, others may not. This would result in loss of time, as well as anxiety because of travelling through a wrong road.
This is where geospatial data comes in.
Look at the data below, published by the Afghanistan information management services. This is a geospatial data, which has information about many things like hydrology, land cover, road, and cultural features, etc.
Geospatial data, is therefore, a completely developed three dimensional form of a map, but with all features which makes it complete. It may not contain longitudes or latitudes, but all the geographically identical features.
The geospatial data was developed earlier, to solve problems related to ecology, environment, geology and other life sciences. The basic use of the geospatial data was to collect geospatial data of areas on which an environmental or life sciences research were done.
Once the reliability of this geospatial data was identified, the data were developed for other much advanced operations like defence, intelligence, medicine, public safety, etc.
Now, geospatial data are even used in traffic control or network analysis. With more modern gadgets available to us, the geospatial data (commonly known as GIS) helps in network navigations too.
Every department, depending upon its needs, creates their own geospatial data. Though the basic features may be the same for all these data’s, depending upon their field of interest, the additional data present like – a water body, an underground tunnel, a green area, etc. may be different in each of these geospatial data. When a geospatial data is made, it is kept in the records for a time it is needed. If it is marked permanent, it goes to the national archives. (3)
Appraising Geospatial Records: Strategies and Guidelines. Report from E‐Legacy Project. California’s Geospatial Records: Archival Appraisal, Accessioning, & Preservation. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://salt.unc.edu/eLegacy/docs/FinalReport/appraisal_of_geospatial_records.pdf
Center for Archival Resources On Legislatures (CAROL): Foundations: Record Inventory and Appraisal. http://www.mnhs.org/preserve/records/legislativerecords/carol/inventory.htm
CODATA/ERPANET Workshop on the Selection, Retention, and Appraisal of Digital Scientific Data. December 15‐17, 2003, Lisbon, Portugal. Erpanet. http://www.erpanet.org/events/2003/lisbon/LisbonReportFinal.pdf
Collection Development Policy for the National Geospatial Digital Archive. http://www.ngda.org/research/Collections/NGDA_Collection_Development_Policy_11_06_final.doc