Spatial data is about information that has several dimensions. It is sometimes referred to as aspatial data. It includes both geospatial data and structo-spatial data. It is all about information wherein location is of some benefit or importance although is not always about location on the planet’s surface but in other entities as well like the body system.
In short, spatial data has anything to do with any multidimensional frame. This frame may include engineering drawings which are referenced to a mechanical object, medical images referenced to the human body or architectural drawings which are referenced to a building.
But spatial data is more widely used in geographical databases. In fact, geo-information which is a short term for geographical information, is a specialized data that has a specialized field of study. Geographic information is created by manipulating spatial data by a computerized system which may include computers and networks as well as standards and protocols for data use and exchange between users within a range of different applications.
There are so many popular fields of science that use spatial data and these fields include land registration, hydrology, cadastral, land evaluation, planning or environmental observation. Spatial data, or in geographic information field is also called geodata, comes in many different format such as coordinates in text form as well as maps or any images taken from the air or from space such as remote sensing data.
Spatial data are stored in a spatial database which is of a special kind because some extensions may be considered for it to be capable of storing, handling, and manipulating spatial data. The out geoinformation output is processed with a special kind of computer program called a geographic information system (GIS) which has become very popular these days with the rising ubiquity of the likes of Google Maps. A spatial information system is an environment where GIS is operated along with machines, computers, network peripherals and people.
A spatial database describes the location and shape of geographic features, and their spatial relationship to other features. The information which is in the spatial database consists of data in the form of digital co-ordinates, which describe the spatial features. The information can pertain points (for instance location of museums), lines (representing roads) or polygons (may represent district boundaries). The information is typically in different sets of data in separate layers which can later be combined in various ways to be used for analysis or production of maps.
Spatial analysis is a not a new technical method and it may have arisen during the early attempts at surveying or cartography. There are also many other fields in science that have contributed to the development of spatial analysis. The science of biology has its contribution through botanical studies of global plant distributions and local plant locations, studies of movement of animals, studies of vegetation blocks, studies of spatial population dynamics, and the study of bio-geography.
During a cholera outbreak in the past, a research mapping was done thus epidemiology also contributed to the development of spatial data. Statistics has also contributed especially in the field of spatial statistics. The same can be said of the contribution of economics with spatial econometrics.
Today, computer science and mathematics are some of the biggest users and developers of spatial data. Many of today’s business organizations use spatial data to map out the progress of their business operations. Maps and GIS images are becoming ubiquitous in the internet and mashups applications are easily becoming available that even personal websites can have their useful and fancy functionalities.