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Beyond GIS/GPS:                                                                                                       engi...
A tanker leaving its shipping lane, for  example, trips an alarm signal at  home base, and the region is scanned  on the w...
monitor a fleet, can have the decision-              4.Object data will be normalized tosupport server at home base analyz...
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My 3rd GIS paper in Unix days

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  1. 1. Beyond GIS/GPS: engine will show interactively coast- line features down to 30-meter resolu- tion on a spheroid projection. This is only the beginning. To develop "fly- by" realistic renderings of critical Trends in Spatial locations, one can overlay T. Van Sants global surface imagery (Van Sant, 1989],- drape it over available digital elevation models (DEMs); add reflections, mottling and clouds; and Data Handling load the information into a graphic workstation. Such renderings offer real-time visualization for emergency planning, search and rescue or com- mand and control. Better still, one can derive DEMs BY ANDREW ZOLNAI AND from SPOT or, soon, ERS-1 images to obtain a sound map base for planning MI CHAEL MARCHAND pipeline routing or tracking air, land A lthough some areas are better stations. A person can now point-and- or sea vehicles anywhere in the world. attuned to 3-D visualization click through spatial what-ifs or For example, radio and line-of-sight due to the subject matter, GIS monitor assets worldwide at a desk- intervisibility calculations using is bound to move in that direction top workstation costing less than terrain models help to predict in real- rapidly with evolving technologies in $10,000. time whether a signal will reach its true 3-D databases and 3-D graphic A key advantage of object data- intended recipient in VHF/UHF or workstations. These are exciting bases is the ability to interact with what search-and-rescue plane is able times with raster, vector and tabular cartographic elements. Such object to see units with its sensors over a data merged and distributed over queries allow users to zoom into given flight path. heterogeneous networks. Experience geographic areas ad-infinitum and by- Interactivity is again paramount to in the private and public resources pass the problem of scaling vs. display, the whole process. For example, sector [Crain et al., 19911 suggests the thereby abating the longstanding bane Axion Spatial Imaging, a firm in following ideal scenario: A corporate of cartographers of which items to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, designs relational database resides on a server, show at what scale. Tcrraxion, an integrated system for while workstations store client spatial vehicle tracking, mission control, and project databases; the servers rela- Command and Control search and rescue (Figure 1). A land, tional database management system Worldwide cultural databases are sea or air vehicle is monitored against (RDBMS) provides the standards and available, and the right database a DEM on a home base graphic work- flexibility to maintain databases of station with dynamic route corridors. various sources, while workstation project data benefit from the speed of object-oriented spatial indexing. Key issues include data integrity, access and delivery, processing speed, setup cost and maintenance. Paramount to these technical issues is the consider- ation of individual, work group and corporate "work style." In a trend of collapsing hierarchies, engineers may not have access to technicians, and managers may have to draw their own conclusions on their own desktop systems. Where is this profusion of solutions leading us in these days of phenomenally increased availability of data, software and hardware? Command-and-control and decision- support systems extend beyond classical GIS applications and serve to illustrate new directions in GIS and global positioning system (GPS] technologies. Both systems benefit from tremendous advances in object- oriented systems and graphic work-52 NOVEMBER 1992 Figure 1. Terraxions terrain editor with satellite texture mapping, running on a Silicon Graphics Iris Indigo workstation, allows images to be tilted, stretched and filtered to highlight desired features and angles. The product also performs intervisibiiity mapping interactively. 6 Copyright GIS World, Inc.. 156 E. Boardwalk Dnvs, Suite 250, Fort Collins, CO aO525. USA
  2. 2. A tanker leaving its shipping lane, for example, trips an alarm signal at home base, and the region is scanned on the workstation to assess whether the ship may have run aground or if piracy is suspected. Search and rescue and law enforcement can be dis- patched within minutes of the inci- dent with immensely improved intelligence on existing hazards. Thus, hundreds of vehicles can be tracked simultaneously worldwide on a Silicon Graphics (his Indigo or better) 3-D workstation or 80386/486 PCs for small fleets. Decision Support Systems The ability to link data with maps is nothing new, but adding financials to perform interactive profit-and-loss what-ifs strikes at the heart of any business venture. Imagine being able to extend a road on a vector map overlaid on a raster image filtered to highlight slopes and to interactively create pie charts of the economics of a Figure 2. Facet offers slope analysis with vector road maps, bar charts and pie charts linked for logging operation. These applications cost analysis on Sun SPARC workstations. can be performed by using a function outgrowths of existing technologies. the International Digital Geographic that calculates road-building costs vs. From enterprise wide GIS to individual Working Group. It is critical to estab- logging accessibility and revenues. workstations, he they windows into lish standards or put data "loaders" Facet, a decision-support system corporate data or standalone projects, (to reformat and filter data) in the supported and marketed by Facet a continuous array of applications is public domain with the explosion of Decision Systems, Calgary, Alberta, emerging in the industry. User-driven publicly available databases from and Vancouver, British Columbia, demand is creating ingenious new "canned" applications such as the Canada, allows such operations by software programs, and a continued Digital Chart of the World from linking objects in a spreadsheet-like drop in hardware prices is bringing all Environmental Systems Research front end, where each cell-object can this to todays desktops. Institute and the U.S. Defense Map- be another "spreadsheet,7 a vector A key element is the ability to ping Agency, to "semirefined" data map and/or a raster image (Figure 2). create project subsets of corporate such as Digital Line Graphs from the Using Facet, the profit-and-loss data, as well as subsets of subsets, and U.S. Geological Survey, to "raw" data exercise would consist briefly of cells so on. "Classical" relational databases from various federal agencies. calculating the financial operations, and structured query language (SQL) The partition of tasks proposed where items are formulas, input data standards do not allow imbricate data earlier in this article addresses the or values automatically derived from sets (akin to Russian papier-mache dichotomy of RDBMS server and linked maps and/or images. Originally dolls-within-dolls|. Moreover, the client project spatial datahases. developed by MacDonald Dettwiler, speed of relational technology makes Notwithstanding enormous existing Richmond, British Columbia, the it better suited to handle corporate investments in software and hard- software resides on a Sun SPARC tabular data on a server rather than to ware, is there a way to seamlessly station and uses object-oriented data process spatially indexed data. Object integrate the two aspects of server and management to link such disparate datahases may best address the latter client into one? At first glance, Axion elements. The product is meant to be with XYZ coordinates and attributes offers end-user applications a 3-D the binding agent among many data embedded in the objects. These graphic workstation performing sources and facilitate the decision- components also allow fast graphical command and control. Taken one making process by bringing to the display and spatial indexing on a step further, the vehicles that are the desktop relevant data in an intuitively project basis. They do not, as yet, offer object of tracking, as well as a variety driven, yet powerful, fashion. data standards to facilitate cross- of other pertinent data, could be Object Databases and 3-D database information exchange, as has resident in database servers rather been done in the relational realm. than client project spatial databases. Workstations This situation is changing with the Facet proposes to "glue" such The commonality in Axions object-based SAIF data standard applications together, manage call-out vehicle tracking system and Facets adopted by the Canadian General tasks (such as preparing databases for decision-support system are the new Standards Board Committee, rather client applications), and bring perti- database tools and affordable hardware than tables as, for example, SDTS of nent data and analytical power to the platforms that allow interactive the U.S. National Institute of Stan- managers desktop. The client-server heterogeneous data manipulation in dards and Technology, or DIGEST of model, with a remote client such as 3-D. These advancements represent an aircraft linked by satellite to© Copyright GIS Wottd, Inc., 156 E. Boardwalk Drivo, Suite 250, Fort Collins, CO 805Z5. USA NOVEMBER 1992 53
  3. 3. monitor a fleet, can have the decision- 4.Object data will be normalized tosupport server at home base analyze facilitate data exchange betweenthe profitability of routes or quickly processes and databases. Perforassemble data for crisis management. mance and reliability of systems andThese individual tasks may have been data integrity will rely on this.done before, but this new technology Object databases will not reachallows it to be done interactively in critical mass oi acceptance untilreal-time in mission-critical applica- then, and loaders will need to be intions. the public domain.3-D and 4-D Database 5.Graphics libraries will be standard ized to distribute such applicationsEngines seamlessly across heterogeneous One can map future applications networks. UNIX is settling intobeyond the two examples used. Object standardization, and graphics applidatabases will mature into true 3-D cations also must mature.database engines. Seismic tomographyand holograms of the Loma Prieta Continued Evolutionearthquake epicenters in California The number and variety of optionstwo years ago (Harmaway, 1991) are that address spatial data handling aretwo examples of what 3-D increasing daily. Environmentalvisualization can do. If attribute tables impact assessment is the fastestare properly indexed in 3-D, a true 3-D growing field in North America, andGIS ensues. For example, the the booming of public 3-D data sets,performance of a refinery or nuclear for example, from NASA (Strand,reactor can be monitored in 4-D (3-D 1992), may contribute to pushing GISand real-time attributes are parameters from 2-D attributes and DEMs to truefrom facilities!, or the evolution of 3-D databases. Simulations now canreservoir depletion or contaminant be realistic enough to push the envedispersal underground can be mapped lope of "virtual reality" into real-(the latter includes probabilistic and world applications, and handle datageostatistical attributes, which are sets in 3-D, 4-D and beyond. §best-guess distributions of rock andfluid properties in the subsurface]. Andrew Zolnai is Calgary ABReal time adds tremendous "dimen- manager for Axion Spatial Imagingsion" to emergency response in Ltd. Michael Marchand is vice presi-environmental disasters. dent, product research in Calgary AB What does a 3-D/4-D database for Facet Decision Systems. Both canentail that does not exist already? be reached at PO Box 61121, Kens-Here is a wish list of perceived needs ington Postal Outlet, Calgary AB,to move database engines into the Canada, T2N 4S6.future; it is hoped that individualswill add their own in a swell of uses Referencesfor true 3-D GIS (Raper, 1989). Crain, I., M. Marchand and M.1.The third dimension will not be part Legasse, Eds. 1991. GIS and Energy,of attributes, but a key at the same URISA 1991 Conference Proceedings.level as X and Y, and attributes will Harmaway, W. 1991. Californiabe properly indexed in 3-D; time -the Earthquake, the Hologram. Bestneed not, as that would require Shots - Winning Images from theparallelization. Second International Visual Comput-2.Attribute tables will be embedded in ing Awards Contest, Iris Universe,3-D objects, so 3-D computations No. 18.can be performed on them, for Raper,J., Ed. 1989. Three-Dimen-example, not to violate spatial sional Applications in Geographicadjacency constraints or allow data Information Systems, Taylor &spatial filtering. Francis.3.Graphic user interfaces will be Strand, E.J. 1992. NASAs EOSdeveloped into "human interfaces" Program Marks New Era in Globalto reduce the disconnectedness the Change Research, GIS WORLD, Vol.user feels to the simulated environ 5, No. 2 (March 1992).ment he or she is travelling through. Tipper, J.C. 1991. A PrototypeDynamic Visualization Systems General-Purpose Dynamic Visualiza-(Tipper, 1991) will enhance the tion System, Geobyte, Vol. 6, No. 3linkage between GIS/RDBMS and (June 1991).application programs. Van Sant, T. 1989. Geosphere Project, Santa Monica, Calif. B Copyright GIS Work), Inc., 155 E Boardwalk Dive, Suite 250, For) Collins. CO80Sa5, USA