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Programming Tools for Visualization of GIS Data

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  1. Programming Tools for Visualization of GIS Data Garret Suen Wednesday, March 5, 2003 CPSC601.82 –Advanced Algorithms in GIS and Scientific Applications

  2. Outline • Introduction – Visualization in GIS • Application Areas • Specific Problems in Application Areas • Survey of Programs and Programming Tools • Future of Visualization in GIS • Conclusion and Summary

  3. Introduction • Visualization in GIS deals with displaying information regarding geographical data • Challenges include accuracy, integrity, and visibility • Commercial and Specialty software and programming tools exist that focus on visualizing geographical information in specific areas of GIS

  4. General Challenges in GIS Visualization • Moving from photos/data to digital images • Displaying such information in a way that makes sense • Manipulating data easily • Creating databases of GIS information that are useful • Level of detail (coarse vs. fine-grain)

  5. Application Areas • The area of GIS focuses on specific areas that require specialized visualization needs. • The areas we will focus on today include: • Geological Information (Oil, Gas, Mining) • Climate Information (Weather Prediction) • Residential Information (Maps)

  6. Geological Information • This area specializes in visualization geological information. • This includes minerals, precious metals, oil and gas deposits. Courtesy of:

  7. Challenges in Geo Visualization • Geological Visualization attempts to abstract information regarding the earth’s strata from surface information • Problems in Visualization deal with: • Volume representation (e.g. mountains) • Layer representation (boundaries) • Accuracy (from picture to digital images)

  8. Geological Visualization Programs • Many companies make use of their own in-house software. • However, there are many commercial software packages that are used as well. • The most common package is the ArcView group of programs

  9. ArcView and Geology

  10. Programming Tools • ArcView is an interactive product that allows for customization. • It provides a host of built-in tools for geological information visualization. • It allows for the creation of application specific scripts and macros • It also allows for the creation and linking of spatial databases to information visualization.

  11. Climate Information • Used extensively by weather forecasters, these systems attempt to model climate patterns. • This includes air current, precipitation, temperature, and dew point information. Courtesy of:

  12. Challenges in Climate Visualization • Dynamic updates from databases • Representation of many aspects of climate over the same area • Extrapolation of weather conditions over time • Tracking weather changes over time

  13. Climate Visualization Programs • For the most part, climate visualization deal with static maps that attempt to convey climate information. • Numerous companies exist that provide climate and weather maps for regions and areas. • We will consider one such commercial product popular with weather forecasters: Digital Atmosphere 2000.

  14. Digital Atmosphere 2000

  15. Digital Atmosphere 2000 Features • This program allows you to import almost any map in a format accepted by the World Meteorological Organization • It allows you to create scripts and run simulations over time of weather patterns • Allows hook-up to digital satellite photos so you can see the weather as it is happening. • Provides ways to view all types of climate information.

  16. DA2000 – Digital Satellite Photos

  17. Residential Information • This focuses on visualizing man-made structures such as roads. • Used in a variety of areas such as urban development, residential planning, and GPS Navigation. Courtesy of:

  18. Challenges in Residential Visualization • Focus (coarse vs. fine grain) • Information Representation • Intelligent Navigation (GPS) • Intelligent Search (Databases) • Simulation (e.g. Traffic Planning)

  19. Residential Visualization Programs • Most commercial applications in this area simply provide maps for residential development. • One of the leading companies that deals with residential information is Autodesk. • The Autodesk Map software package is run on an AutoCAD base. • The main advantage of AutoDesk Map is its ability to incorporate satellite photos and directly manipulate them.

  20. AutoDesk Map 2002

  21. AutoDesk Map 2002 Features • Easy creation of spatial databases. • Direct manipulation of maps, aerial, and satellite photos. • Automatic coordinate geometry information extracted from maps. • Ability to add spatial information (polygons) and convert polygons/polylines into polyobjects for export into spatial databases. • Basic Algorithms: shortest-path, network tracing, and polygon overlay.

  22. Future of GIS Visualization • The future of GIS Visualization will ultimately be based on new paradigms of visualization. • Current traditional models work on bringing the 3D to the 2D. • Future visualization will work on allowing information to be visualized on the 3D level (CAVE!).

  23. Working Towards the Future Terrain model – a CAVE Perspective @ the University of Illinois – Urbana, Champagne

  24. Summary • GIS Visualization is specific to the application area that is being applied to. • Each area faces different challenges in understanding their own types of information. • We have looked at the problems involved in 3 different GIS Areas: Geological, Climate, and Residential.

  25. Summary (cont.) • Various commercial software solutions are available for the GIS practitioner. • Each software solution provides a wide array of functions and tools for manipulating and displaying information. • As our understanding of GIS information increases, software will move towards providing the tools necessary. • Programming tools are generally in the form of scripting tools that allow for specific manipulation of data.

  26. References ArcView: • AutoDesk Map 2002: •,,2260583-123112,00.html Digital Atmosphere 2000: • CAVE: •

  27. Questions? Comments?