Geospatial interoperability - ORDBMS approaches

By Samir Satpathy

Various spatial applications facilitate usage in many ways.Desktop to palmtop and browsing the net in mobile mode, getting driving direction to the nearest restaurant are something very essential in day-to-day life. Though there are many real-time uses that are very exhaustive to list. All we are doing is simply integrating the spatial feature with other applications, which we could term as interoperability.

The above practice is however difficult and needs more participants from geo-spatial technologist and vendors. It addresses the following problems, which the user faces often.

  • Huge initial cost for the creation and the maintenance of spatial database.
  • The multiple standard of the available data.
  • Non-availability of standard EAI, API for application integration.

The database is the storage of large volume of data systematically. The intention is to keep the data secure, non-replicative, and easy to retrieve. In an enterprise, the database plays a significant role for the day-to-day operation in the IT cycle. And much focus is primarily given for its design, implementation and maintenance. As such, the GIS industry is data centric now, and interoperability works well at the database level.

The relational structures and consequently its object model within the database helps in various operations.The annexure is given for the detail of relationship.

Spatial Concepts
The spatial operations in simple nature can be best described as follows:

  • Union
  • Intersect
  • Difference
  • Minus
  • Overlap, etc.

Spatial compliance
Geometry - Any feature in the space could be represented by dimension and is assigned by a metric system.To cover various possibilities the following are the basic features:

Point It is of no dimension and only expressed as a dot. Ex.utility points, poles etc.
Line It has got only linear direction. Ex.road, river etc.
Area It is a polygon shape. Ex.Plot boundary, district / taluk boundary etc.
Combined Some times combination of both could be represented

Spatio - temporal distribution - Generally the events are occurred in different space and time and are captured accordingly. The forest cover of any given locality in two different dates could be different and the change can best be represented in a spatial systems.

Data volume: - The GIS system when stored contains large amount of data comprising of the map graphics and associated attributes. The data size depends on the spatial compliance and its associated metadata.

Architecture design
There is not a common agreed architecture as such. The OGC (Open GIS Consortium) is working on the open data standards and preparing guidelines for the products as well as in different application areas. Some common architecture is given below for the ready reference.

Interfaces - To comply with the OGC initiative, several database vendors have already developed spatial extensions, for example, Oracle with Oracle Spatial and Oracle Locator; IBM with DB2 Spatial Extender; and Microsoft with MapPoint. The details could be found in their web site as listed in the reference.

Summary - Interoperability is essentially required with an open interface based on industry standards. It reduces the complexity of system management by eliminating the hybrid or file based architecture of traditional GIS data. It facilitates the enterprise applications to be incorporated simultaneously or at later stage.



I am thankful to the entire GIS team, TATA Teleservices Ltd., for extending their co-operation and valuable suggestion.Special acknowledgment to Maulin Majumdar and Nitesh Patel to prepare the diagrams.


Exploring geographic information system Chrisman N Johnwiley & sons 1997
Intergraph Corporation Website
JLocationServices Website
MapInfo Corporation Website
ESRI Website
Intergraph Corporation Website
Oracle Corporation website
Directions Magazine
Directions Magazine
Open GIS Consortium website

Key Terms

OGC Open GIS Consortium
OOPS Object Oriented Programs
RDBMS Relational Database Management System
ORDBMS Object Relation Database Management System
EAI Enterprise Application Integration
API Application Programming Interface

Published Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

Written by Samir Satpathy

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