Oracle Announces New Features for Oracle Spatial at User’s Conference

By Joe Francica

The fifth annual Oracle Spatial User's Conference was held last week following the GITA Conference in Tampa, Florida. Jim Steiner, senior director of Oracle's Server Technology, opened the conference with remarks about some industry trends and comments on Oracle's recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems. "The data explosion continues," said Steiner. He cited several important events contributing to this phenomenon. He included the launch of DigitalGlobe's WorldView satellite, with imagery available at approximately .50 cm resolution. He also mentioned Nokia's acquisition of NAVTEQ, which saw the digital data provider accelerate the rate of geographies it captures, including more from China, plus data sets for the telecommunication and transportation industries. Steiner discussed the importance of user-generated content that provides a mechanism to acquire data from users in near real-time, especially "perishable" data such as traffic information. Finally, he noted that sensors went mainstream in 2008, including data captured by location-enabled traffic cameras. "This had a profound effect on the market," said Steiner.

Strategy for Oracle Spatial
Steiner said that enhancements to Oracle Spatial will include more analysis, modeling and visualization for applications in retail, business intelligence, utilities and other areas. The company plans to do more with the network data model (NMD) and to add robust path analysis to support more complex networks. There will be investment in satellite image processing and new georeferencing methods. For the much longer term, Steiner said, "We are going to see a convergence of the physical and virtual world." He believes that there is a comfort and ease that new generations have in working in virtual space. "This will enable commercial applications with more complex spatial dimension," said Steiner. Oracle will continue addressing the emerging growth areas of unstructured data to support simulations and provide a platform for 3D content.

Oracle Buys SUN
How does the acquisition of Sun Microsystems fit into Oracle's strategy? Steiner said it enhances the commitment to open standards. He explained that the number one platform for Oracle is Solaris, followed by Linux. Oracle and Sun share many clients. Oracle expects customer and partner benefits for both communities, including increased R&D investments.

New Oracle Spatial Enhancements
Siva Ravada, director of Software Development, provided details on what's coming in the next product release, Oracle 11gR2.

GeoRaster API - Oracle will offer four sample applications to show people how to use the GeoRaster API:,, and With these samples, users can easily develop extract, transform and load (ETL) tools and applications geared for Web applications.

Coordinate support for GeoRaster (SDO_GEOR.reproject) - This will allow users to transform GeoRaster raster data from one projection to another. All Oracle Spatial coordinate systems are supported. Five resampling methods are supported: Nearest Neighbor, Bilinear, Cubic, Average4 and Average16.

Polygon-based raster clipping - Blocking size optimizer-minimize padding - Blocking size optimizer will automatically optimize the blocking size based on the GeoRaster dimension sizes.

Raster Interpolations
Two new functions - SDO_GEOR.evaluate and SDO_GEOR_evaluate.double enable; these functions provide advanced georeferencing using ground control points (GCP).

Extract Transform and Load Functions - The GDAL GeoRaster Driver now loads natively, importing and exporting many formats to/from SDO_georaster including GeoTIFF and JPEG2000.

Interior Point
SDO_UTIL.INTERIOR_POINT returns SDO_GEOMETRY; SDO_GEOM.SDO_TRIANGULATE returns a geometry with triangular elements that result from Delaunay Triangulation. These commands provide labeling capabilities requested by users.

Union of Geometry Objects
A new method - SDO_AGGR_SET_UNION takes a VARRAY of SDO_GEOMETRY objects as input and returns the aggregate union of all the geometry objects in the VARRAY. This is a faster way to create the UNION of several geometry objects. The function is useful when the geometries to be grouped are easily gathered into a collection.

Faster Coordinate System Transformation
SDO_CS.Transform is up to 10 times faster, according to Ravada.  Now Oracle Spatial uses context between transform() calls with the same source and target SRIDs; in prior releases the transformation context was created for each transform() call.

Cross-endian Support for Transport Tablespace (TTS) and Spatial Index
SDO_UTIL.INITIALIZE_INDEXES_FOR_TTS now automatically fixes the index if the TTS export is done in a different endian format than the target format.

Triangulated Irregular Networks and Point Clouds
A result table for SDO_PC is used to map the input points to the PTN_ID and PINT_ID columns. This process has been very slow in the past; this change enhances SDO_PC (point cloud) AND SDO_TIN storage.

Geocoding Using NAVTEQ Data
A new table using NAVTEQ data and the function, GC_ADDRESS_PINT_NVT, provides point geocoding. The NAVTEQ data must reside in the database and will have to be purchased from NAVTEQ first.

Web Services
Oracle Spatial will provide full support for database transactions on OpenGIS Web Feature Service (WFS) 1.1 feature tables and Workspace Manager. Oracle Spatial will allow updates/deletes on WFS-T feature tables via SQL. Users will be able to perform WFS transactions into workspace enabled feature tables. Users need sdo_wfs_lock.enableDBtxns procedure in a session before any workspace maintenance operation such as refreshing a workspace or merging workspace can be completed.

Network Data Model (NDM)
Path/Subpath analysis will support multiple costs in a single analysis. It will be possible to perform shortest distance paths with travel time and fastest paths with travel distance.

User-defined objects can be accumulated and used in the network constraints during network analysis. The NDM now captures changes to the network made in the database and users can synchronize these changes to network partitions in the database and in memory. This can be done incrementally instead of reading the whole network again from the database.

Logical Network Partitioning
A new partitioning utility to help partition logical networks will be available to minimize the number of links among network partitions, and perform load balancing with predefined thresholds. This will be particularly useful to those who work with very large networks.

Traveling Salesman (TSP) Analysis
The new release will include a minimum cost tour function that includes all given nodes and support points on network as the nodes are visited.

Drivetime Polygon Generation
A spatial representation (polygon) can be created against a minimum cost network.

Routing Engine
Routing applications will be built on top of the NDM Load-on-Demand (LOD) engine and use all the extensibility of the underlying NDM engine. Truck routing is an example of customizing the route for a specific application. The new routing engine allows users to specify vehicle type (car or truck) so that it can assume certain impedances along the highway depending on vehicle restrictions (weight, height, axel weight, width, length), allowing users to build a very complex routing application. Truck routing data from NAVTEQ table definitions will make a call to the NVT_TRANSPORT table.

Fusion Middleware (FMW) MapViewer
Jayant Sharma, technical director for Oracle Spatial said, "[FMW] MapViewer (pdf) is essentially a mashup engine... for local search, map reporting and to some degree, interacting with the application." FMW MapViewer is WebLogic certified, and can provide annotation text, scalable styles, "heatmaps" and secure map rendering. MapViewer now has a wrap-around map capability (users had requested this for some time), a toolbar, floating map "decoration" and tabbed information windows. In this development cycle, the objective was to focus on improving the productivity of the developer who wanted to use it for adding different features. The "heatmaps" function will show concentrations of points, such as for business locations.

Imagery Handling
11g R2 now supports spherical coordinate systems. DigitalGlobe is also making imagery more available to Oracle MapViewer through jImageConnect, an SDK for its image library that provides access to imagery within Web applications and can be easily embedded in already existing Web applications.

Every year Oracle enhances Oracle Spatial with new support for raster and vector data analysis and management. This year seems to be another jump forward in support of advanced spatial analysis for both

Editor's Note: Oracle presented this information for the first time in public to its users at this event. Watch the Oracle website for the presentations that were given at the users' conference; some information is there now with respect to Oracle Spatial 11g functionality.

Published Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Written by Joe Francica

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