GIS RESEARCH UK: 6th National Conference
31st March - 2nd April 1998, University of Edinburgh, UK.
ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION CONCLUSIONS
OBJECT ORIENTED GIS
- Historically, the performance of OODBMS (OO's) compared with
RDBMS has been a problem. It remains difficult to compare the
two approaches, and there are few adequate metrics or benchmarks
- The functionality of OO [which is flexible, consistent &
simple] may more than compensate for the disadvantages in performance.
- It is suggested that OO should be easier for non-specialist users
to understand, although little evidence exists to support this
Re-use of software & design is a perceived advantage of OO's,
but one which in practice may rarely occur.
- It would be worth comparing a range of practical applications
using OO's & RDBMS's to quantify the suggested advantages
of OO's in the broad arena of GIS.
THE CHANGING NEEDS OF THE GIS INDUSTRY
Cognitive issues : there is a need to understand the role of
basic spatial data models versus photo realism. New data models
are required, as well as moderation / standardisation
Access : There is a need to address the issues surrounding freedom
of information, cost and copyright. Particular application in
the WWW arena.
Public participation: There are a range of n dimensional
issues - multi-scale, multi-criteria, multi-disciplinary etc,
all of which are affected by ethical and power base issues of
information manipulation and consumption.
Service issues: Can GIS really act as a source of transparent
management, planning and information to the Public? Control to
Elitist technology : There is a need to eradicate the perception
of GIS as a weapon and familiarise the public with its potential.
TEMPORAL GIS : SPATIAL OBJECTS IN ENV.MODELLING
Assuming that there is a GIS 'profession', there needs
to be a more visible adherence to a code of ethics.
Given that GIS specialists respond to the prescribed needs of
others, it may be suggested that it has not, as yet, settled as
a profession in its own right.
The acronym 'GIS' may well be substituted in the future by a
more wide-ranging concept GI Science of simply GI - geographic
information. Interestingly - there has been little change in the
core concepts of GIS curricula over the last 10 years.
Government dictates to industry, and industry has historically
driven GIS. More direct communication between government and GIS
is required, which supercedes the concept of professionalism.
It still remains a challenge to persuade industry and the public
that GIS is a viable technology, and is more than just glorified
SPATIAL DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEMS IN ENV.PLANNING & MGMNT
As a fundamental issue in GIS, the temporal component of spatial
data remains unresolved.
Spatial databases describe scenarios that often require different
data types to be compatible within the temporal dimension. If
this is not the case, analysis may be made incredibly difficult
or precluded altogether.
It is easier to extract temporal trends from certain spatial
data types than others. This capability needs to be addressed
from both a data storage and functionality point of view.
OO techniques do allow the description of geographical features
as objects, and thus to associate them with patterns of change
or functions thereof.
There are issues to be resolved surrounding the heterogeneity
of spatial objects over time ... the problem of putting boundaries
to uncertainty. An alternative to the basic temporal approach
may be chaos theory which appears to be far more flexible.
HEALTH & GIS
SDSS are more than a GIS or GIS as a concept. They must
exhibit intrinsic GIS functionality, but in addition, demonstrate
an ability to integrate geospatial data with other data formats
that goes beyond current GIS application capability.
The expert will always be somewhere. The question is where? At
what point is the expert considered, consulted or ignored?
SDSS are subject to similar constraints as GIS - eg. completeness,
source, accuracy and dependability of the information. Quality
remains an overall concern.
SDSS also includes :
confidence in output
human/qualitative data issues
GIS & the NHS are still relatively unacquainted.
There are obvious and widely differing experiences between these
two key players in accessing health event data.
The issue of spatial data awareness needs to be addressed in
the NHS community.
It remains a question as to which arena it is relevant to publish
With no NHS GIS policy, it is difficult to predict or determine
in what manner these two fields may co-exist in the future.
GIS & THE WEB
It was agreed that it still makes sense to talk about scale.
This is because:
- Source scale is still important
- Scale is still functionally relevant to specific operations.
Questions still remain as to how the 'best' scale may be determined
Applying the correct scale to spatial patterns was addressed
particularly, as there is no standardised format for scale:pattern
Independent issues remain relevant for different scale issues.
- Global data and events have different scale dynamics to those
on a more local level.
How are scale dynamics at different levels to be integrated,
and how are suitable links to be made between them?
DTM & GIS
Selection of the technical application still depends on both
functional requirement and technical expertise available.
Distributed processing of data holds significant possibilities
for advances in this field.
Metadata has a role to play - detail and location of the spatial
data needs to be considered when accessing, downloading and processing.
If data and metadata are to be distributed, we need to be concerned
about maintaining their currency and integrity as well as other
The client - server relationship needs to be enhanced beyond
the distribution of data & metadata. For example, how data
should be symbolised is an issue and whether a data standard needs
to be adopted.
Q. Where are we now ?
A. Not very much further than GISRUK '97 ... or even DTM symposium
GIS is still limited in incorporation of topographic features,
data models, poor algorithms eg. Visibility analysis etc
- Q. Where are we going ?
- A. GISRUK '99
Need to raise awareness of inaccuracies in data & algorithms.
Need better terrain descriptors
Need better data models which can work at multiple scales
There is suggestion that 'GIS as a tool for DTM'ing should be
driven by the needs of (us) ... the modellers!'