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Lecture 4: Georeferencing
Thanks to Joana Barros: Birkbeck College, London
Georeferencing
‘To georeference’  the act of assigning
locations to atoms of information
Is essential in GIS, since all information must
be linked to the Earth’s surface
The method of georeferencing must be:
Unique, linking information to exactly one location
Shared, so different users understand the
meaning of a georeference
Persistent through time, so today’s
georeferences are still meaningful tomorrow
Uniqueness
A georeference may be unique only within a
defined domain, not globally
There are many instances of Springfield in the
U.S., but only one in any state
The meaning of a reference to London may
depend on context, since there are smaller
Londons in several parts of the world
Georeferences as Measurements
Some georeferences are metric
They define location using measures of distance from
fixed places
E.g. distance from the Equator or from the Greenwich Meridian
Others are based on ordering
E.g. street addresses in most parts of the world order
houses along streets
Others are only nominal
Placenames do not involve ordering or measuring
Metric references
Essential to the making of maps and the display of
mapped information in GIS
Provide the potential for infinitely fine spatial
resolution (provided we have sufficiently accurate
measuring devices)
From measurements of two or three locations it is
possible to compute distances
Georeferencing systems
Placenames
Postal addresses and postal codes
Linear referencing systems
Cadastres
Latitude and longitude
Projections and coordinate systems
The Global Positioning System
Placenames
The earliest form of georeferencing
And the most commonly used in everyday activities
Many names of geographic features are
universally recognized
Others may be understood only by locals
Names work at many different scales
From continents to small villages and
neighborhoods
Names may pass out of use in time
Where was Naples, CA?
Postal Addresses and Postcodes
Every dwelling and office is a potential destination for
mail
Dwellings and offices are arrayed along streets, and
numbered accordingly
Streets have names that are unique within local areas
Local areas have names that are unique within larger
regions
If these assumptions are true, then a postal address
is a useful georeference
Gould/Tobler’s experiment
(See CSISS Classics)
Where do postal addresses fail as
georeferences?
In rural areas
Urban-style addresses have been extended
recently to many rural areas
For natural features
Lakes, mountains, and rivers cannot be located
using postal addresses
When numbering on streets is not sequential
E.g. in Japan
Postcodes as Georeferences
Defined in many countries
E.g. ZIP codes in the US
Hierarchically structured
The first few characters define large areas
Subsequent characters designate smaller areas
Coarser spatial resolution than postal address
Useful for mapping
Postcodes in Canada
Forward Sortation Areas (FSA)
 The first three characters of the six-character postcode form the FSA
Central part of the Toronto metropolitan region
ZIP code boundaries are a convenient way to summarize data in the US. The
dots on the left have been summarized as a density per square mile on the right
ZIP Code Boundaries in the US
Linear Referencing
A system for georeferencing positions on a road, street, rail, or
river network
Is closely related to street
address but uses an explicit
measurement of distance rather
then the much less reliable
surrogate of street address number
Combines the name of the link
with an offset distance along the
link from a fixed point, most often
an intersection
Problem Cases
Transportation authorities  To keep track of pavement quality,
signs, traffic conditions on roads
Police  To record the locations of accidents
Users of Linear Referencing
Locations in rural areas may be a long way from an intersection
or other suitable zero point
Pairs of streets may intersect more than once
Measurements of distance along streets may be inaccurate,
depending on the measuring device, e.g. a car odometer
Cadastral Maps
Defined as the map of land ownership in an area, maintained
for the purposes of taxing land, or of creating a public record
of ownership
Parcels of land
Are uniquely identified by number or code (PIN)
Are reasonably persistent through time, but
Very few people know the identification code of their home
parcel, so the use of the cadaster as georeferencing is thus
limited to local officials, with one major exception
The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) in the US and similar
systems in other countries provide a method of
georeferencing linked to the cadastre (Township, Range,
Section)
Principal meridians: Geographers lines
Township and Range
Latitude and Longitude
The most comprehensive and powerful method of
georeferencing
Provides potential for very fine spatial resolution
Allows distance to be computed between pairs of locations
Supports other forms of spatial analysis
Uses a well-defined and fixed reference frame
Based on the Earth’s rotation and center of mass, and the
Greenwich Meridian
Latitude and Longitude
Latitude: is the angular distance, in degrees, minutes, and seconds of a point
north or south of the Equator. Lines of latitude are often referred to as
parallels.
Longitude: is the angular distance, in degrees, minutes, and seconds, of a
point east or west of the Prime (Greenwich) Meridian. Lines of longitude are
often referred to as meridians.
Definition
The Earth’s shape
The Earth is slightly flattened, such that the distance
between the Poles is about 1 part in 300 less than the
diameter at the Equator
The Earth more accurately modeled as an spheroid
(ellipsoid) than a sphere
An spheroid is formed by
rotating an ellipse about
its shorter axis
Ellipsoid allows variable
radii
The History of Ellipsoids
Because the Earth is not shaped precisely as an
ellipsoid, initially each country felt free to adopt its
own as the most accurate approximation to its own
part of the Earth
Without a single standard the maps produced by
different countries using different ellipsoids could
never be made to fit together
Today an international standard has been adopted
known as WGS 84 (the World Geodesic System of
1984)
Latitude and Longitude
Define the location on Earth’s surface in terms of angles with
respect to well-defined references
The Royal Observatory at Greenwich
The axis of rotation
They constitute the most comprehensive system of
georeferencing, and support a range of forms of analysis,
including the calculation of distance between points on the
curved surcace of the Earth
Adopted as world standard in 1884
But many technologies for working with
geographic data are inherently flat (Cartesian)!
Projections and Coordinates
There are many reasons for wanting to
project the Earth’s surface onto a plane,
rather than deal with the curved surface
The paper used to output GIS maps is flat
Flat maps are scanned and digitized to create GIS
databases
Square and rectangular rasters are flat
The Earth has to be projected to see all of it at
once
It’s much easier to measure distance on a plane
Distortions
Any projection must distort the Earth in some way
Two types of projections are important in GIS
Conformal property: Shapes of small features are preserved,
or in other words, scales of the projections in x and y directions
are always equal
Equal area property: Shapes are distorted, but areas
measured on the map are always in the same proportion to areas
on the Earth’s surface
Both types of projections will generally distort distances
Map projections
Azimuthal or planar -
analogous to touching the
Earth with a sheet of flat
paper
Cylindrical - analogous to wrapping a cylinder of paper around the
Earth, projecting the Earth’s features onto it, and then unwrapping the
cylinder
Conical – analogous to wrapping a sheet of paper around the Earth
in a cone
Cylindrical Projections
The cylinder is wrapped
around the Equator
The projection is conformal
• At any point scale is the
same in both directions
• Shape of small features is
preserved
• Features in high latitudes are
significantly enlarged
The Mercator projection is the best-known cylindrical
projection
Conic Projections
Standard Parallels occur
where the cone intersects the
Earth
The Lambert Conformal Conic
projection is commonly used
to map North America
On this projection lines of
latitude appear as arcs of
circles, and lines of longitude
are straight lines radiating
from the North Pole
Conceptualized as the result of wrapping a cone of paper
around the Earth
The “Unprojected” Projection
A type of cylindrical
projection
Is neither conformal
nor equal area
As latitude increases,
lines of longitude are
much closer together
on the Earth, but are
the same distance
apart on the projection
Assign latitude to the y axis and longitude to the x axis
Also known as the Plate Carrée or Cylindrical
Equidistant Projection
The Universal Transverse Mercator
(UTM) Projection
A type of cylindrical projection
Implemented as an internationally
standard coordinate system
Initially devised as a military standard
Uses a system of 60 zones
Maximum distortion is 0.04%
Transverse Mercator because the
cylinder is wrapped around the
Poles, not the Equator
Zones are each six degrees of longitude, numbered as shown at the
top, from W to E
The Universal Transverse Mercator
(UTM) Projection
Implications of the Zone System
UTM coordinates are in meters, making it easy to make
accurate calculations of short distances between points
Because each zone defines a different projection (60
different projections!) maps will not fit together across a
zone boundary
Zones become a problem at high latitudes (especially for
cities that cross boundaries!)
Jurisdictions that span two zones must make special
arrangements
Use only one of the two projections, and accept the greater-than-
normal distortions in the other zone
Use a third projection spanning the jurisdiction
E.g. CA spans UTM zones 10 and 11
Local Systems:
State Plane Coordinates
All US states have adopted
their own specialized
coordinate systems
Some states use multiple zones
Several different types of
projections are used by the
system
Provides less distortion than
UTM
Used for applications needing
very high accuracy, such as
surveying
Local Systems: The National Grid - UK
It is administered by the
Ordnance Survey of Great
Britain
provides a unique georeference
for every point in England,
Scotland, and Wales
The first designating letter
defines a 500 km square, and
the second defines a 100 km
square
Within each square, two
measurements, called easting
and northing, define a location
with respect to the lower left
corner of the square
Converting Georeferences
GIS applications often require conversion of
projections and ellipsoids
These are standard functions in popular GIS packages
Street addresses must be converted to
coordinates for mapping and analysis
Using geocoding functions
Placenames can be converted to coordinates
using gazetteers
The Global Positioning System (GPS)
Allows direct, accurate measurement of
latitude and longitude
Accuracy of 10m from a simple, cheap unit
Differential GPS capable of sub-meter accuracy
Sub-centimeter accuracy if observations are
averaged over long periods
What is the Global Positioning System?
Consists of a system of 24 satellites, each orbiting the
Earth every 12 hours on distinct orbits at a height of 20 200km
and transmitting radio pulses at very precisely timed intervals
Position in a receiver is determined by precise
calculations from:
the satellite signals,
the known positions of the satellites
the velocity of light
Position in the three dimesions (latitude, longitude and
elevation) requires that at least 4 satellites are above the horizon
Accuracy depends on the number of satellites and their positions
How does GPS work?
Earth is continuously
circled by 24 GPS
satellites
A GPS receiver listens for signals
which give the satellites’ location
and the exact time of sending.
Trilateration then gives them
your latitude, longitude

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ch5-georeferencing.ppt

  • 1. Lecture 4: Georeferencing Thanks to Joana Barros: Birkbeck College, London
  • 2. Georeferencing ‘To georeference’  the act of assigning locations to atoms of information Is essential in GIS, since all information must be linked to the Earth’s surface The method of georeferencing must be: Unique, linking information to exactly one location Shared, so different users understand the meaning of a georeference Persistent through time, so today’s georeferences are still meaningful tomorrow
  • 3. Uniqueness A georeference may be unique only within a defined domain, not globally There are many instances of Springfield in the U.S., but only one in any state The meaning of a reference to London may depend on context, since there are smaller Londons in several parts of the world
  • 4. Georeferences as Measurements Some georeferences are metric They define location using measures of distance from fixed places E.g. distance from the Equator or from the Greenwich Meridian Others are based on ordering E.g. street addresses in most parts of the world order houses along streets Others are only nominal Placenames do not involve ordering or measuring
  • 5. Metric references Essential to the making of maps and the display of mapped information in GIS Provide the potential for infinitely fine spatial resolution (provided we have sufficiently accurate measuring devices) From measurements of two or three locations it is possible to compute distances
  • 6. Georeferencing systems Placenames Postal addresses and postal codes Linear referencing systems Cadastres Latitude and longitude Projections and coordinate systems The Global Positioning System
  • 7. Placenames The earliest form of georeferencing And the most commonly used in everyday activities Many names of geographic features are universally recognized Others may be understood only by locals Names work at many different scales From continents to small villages and neighborhoods Names may pass out of use in time Where was Naples, CA?
  • 8. Postal Addresses and Postcodes Every dwelling and office is a potential destination for mail Dwellings and offices are arrayed along streets, and numbered accordingly Streets have names that are unique within local areas Local areas have names that are unique within larger regions If these assumptions are true, then a postal address is a useful georeference
  • 10. Where do postal addresses fail as georeferences? In rural areas Urban-style addresses have been extended recently to many rural areas For natural features Lakes, mountains, and rivers cannot be located using postal addresses When numbering on streets is not sequential E.g. in Japan
  • 11. Postcodes as Georeferences Defined in many countries E.g. ZIP codes in the US Hierarchically structured The first few characters define large areas Subsequent characters designate smaller areas Coarser spatial resolution than postal address Useful for mapping
  • 12. Postcodes in Canada Forward Sortation Areas (FSA)  The first three characters of the six-character postcode form the FSA Central part of the Toronto metropolitan region
  • 13. ZIP code boundaries are a convenient way to summarize data in the US. The dots on the left have been summarized as a density per square mile on the right ZIP Code Boundaries in the US
  • 14. Linear Referencing A system for georeferencing positions on a road, street, rail, or river network Is closely related to street address but uses an explicit measurement of distance rather then the much less reliable surrogate of street address number Combines the name of the link with an offset distance along the link from a fixed point, most often an intersection
  • 15. Problem Cases Transportation authorities  To keep track of pavement quality, signs, traffic conditions on roads Police  To record the locations of accidents Users of Linear Referencing Locations in rural areas may be a long way from an intersection or other suitable zero point Pairs of streets may intersect more than once Measurements of distance along streets may be inaccurate, depending on the measuring device, e.g. a car odometer
  • 16. Cadastral Maps Defined as the map of land ownership in an area, maintained for the purposes of taxing land, or of creating a public record of ownership Parcels of land Are uniquely identified by number or code (PIN) Are reasonably persistent through time, but Very few people know the identification code of their home parcel, so the use of the cadaster as georeferencing is thus limited to local officials, with one major exception The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) in the US and similar systems in other countries provide a method of georeferencing linked to the cadastre (Township, Range, Section)
  • 19. Latitude and Longitude The most comprehensive and powerful method of georeferencing Provides potential for very fine spatial resolution Allows distance to be computed between pairs of locations Supports other forms of spatial analysis Uses a well-defined and fixed reference frame Based on the Earth’s rotation and center of mass, and the Greenwich Meridian
  • 20. Latitude and Longitude Latitude: is the angular distance, in degrees, minutes, and seconds of a point north or south of the Equator. Lines of latitude are often referred to as parallels. Longitude: is the angular distance, in degrees, minutes, and seconds, of a point east or west of the Prime (Greenwich) Meridian. Lines of longitude are often referred to as meridians.
  • 22. The Earth’s shape The Earth is slightly flattened, such that the distance between the Poles is about 1 part in 300 less than the diameter at the Equator The Earth more accurately modeled as an spheroid (ellipsoid) than a sphere An spheroid is formed by rotating an ellipse about its shorter axis Ellipsoid allows variable radii
  • 23. The History of Ellipsoids Because the Earth is not shaped precisely as an ellipsoid, initially each country felt free to adopt its own as the most accurate approximation to its own part of the Earth Without a single standard the maps produced by different countries using different ellipsoids could never be made to fit together Today an international standard has been adopted known as WGS 84 (the World Geodesic System of 1984)
  • 24. Latitude and Longitude Define the location on Earth’s surface in terms of angles with respect to well-defined references The Royal Observatory at Greenwich The axis of rotation They constitute the most comprehensive system of georeferencing, and support a range of forms of analysis, including the calculation of distance between points on the curved surcace of the Earth Adopted as world standard in 1884 But many technologies for working with geographic data are inherently flat (Cartesian)!
  • 25. Projections and Coordinates There are many reasons for wanting to project the Earth’s surface onto a plane, rather than deal with the curved surface The paper used to output GIS maps is flat Flat maps are scanned and digitized to create GIS databases Square and rectangular rasters are flat The Earth has to be projected to see all of it at once It’s much easier to measure distance on a plane
  • 26. Distortions Any projection must distort the Earth in some way Two types of projections are important in GIS Conformal property: Shapes of small features are preserved, or in other words, scales of the projections in x and y directions are always equal Equal area property: Shapes are distorted, but areas measured on the map are always in the same proportion to areas on the Earth’s surface Both types of projections will generally distort distances
  • 27. Map projections Azimuthal or planar - analogous to touching the Earth with a sheet of flat paper Cylindrical - analogous to wrapping a cylinder of paper around the Earth, projecting the Earth’s features onto it, and then unwrapping the cylinder Conical – analogous to wrapping a sheet of paper around the Earth in a cone
  • 28. Cylindrical Projections The cylinder is wrapped around the Equator The projection is conformal • At any point scale is the same in both directions • Shape of small features is preserved • Features in high latitudes are significantly enlarged The Mercator projection is the best-known cylindrical projection
  • 29. Conic Projections Standard Parallels occur where the cone intersects the Earth The Lambert Conformal Conic projection is commonly used to map North America On this projection lines of latitude appear as arcs of circles, and lines of longitude are straight lines radiating from the North Pole Conceptualized as the result of wrapping a cone of paper around the Earth
  • 30. The “Unprojected” Projection A type of cylindrical projection Is neither conformal nor equal area As latitude increases, lines of longitude are much closer together on the Earth, but are the same distance apart on the projection Assign latitude to the y axis and longitude to the x axis Also known as the Plate Carrée or Cylindrical Equidistant Projection
  • 31. The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Projection A type of cylindrical projection Implemented as an internationally standard coordinate system Initially devised as a military standard Uses a system of 60 zones Maximum distortion is 0.04% Transverse Mercator because the cylinder is wrapped around the Poles, not the Equator
  • 32. Zones are each six degrees of longitude, numbered as shown at the top, from W to E The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Projection
  • 33. Implications of the Zone System UTM coordinates are in meters, making it easy to make accurate calculations of short distances between points Because each zone defines a different projection (60 different projections!) maps will not fit together across a zone boundary Zones become a problem at high latitudes (especially for cities that cross boundaries!) Jurisdictions that span two zones must make special arrangements Use only one of the two projections, and accept the greater-than- normal distortions in the other zone Use a third projection spanning the jurisdiction E.g. CA spans UTM zones 10 and 11
  • 34. Local Systems: State Plane Coordinates All US states have adopted their own specialized coordinate systems Some states use multiple zones Several different types of projections are used by the system Provides less distortion than UTM Used for applications needing very high accuracy, such as surveying
  • 35. Local Systems: The National Grid - UK It is administered by the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain provides a unique georeference for every point in England, Scotland, and Wales The first designating letter defines a 500 km square, and the second defines a 100 km square Within each square, two measurements, called easting and northing, define a location with respect to the lower left corner of the square
  • 36. Converting Georeferences GIS applications often require conversion of projections and ellipsoids These are standard functions in popular GIS packages Street addresses must be converted to coordinates for mapping and analysis Using geocoding functions Placenames can be converted to coordinates using gazetteers
  • 37. The Global Positioning System (GPS) Allows direct, accurate measurement of latitude and longitude Accuracy of 10m from a simple, cheap unit Differential GPS capable of sub-meter accuracy Sub-centimeter accuracy if observations are averaged over long periods
  • 38. What is the Global Positioning System? Consists of a system of 24 satellites, each orbiting the Earth every 12 hours on distinct orbits at a height of 20 200km and transmitting radio pulses at very precisely timed intervals Position in a receiver is determined by precise calculations from: the satellite signals, the known positions of the satellites the velocity of light Position in the three dimesions (latitude, longitude and elevation) requires that at least 4 satellites are above the horizon Accuracy depends on the number of satellites and their positions
  • 39. How does GPS work? Earth is continuously circled by 24 GPS satellites A GPS receiver listens for signals which give the satellites’ location and the exact time of sending. Trilateration then gives them your latitude, longitude