Temporal GIS - at Last

By Hal Reid

Temporal GIS is finally here.No more slide shows of .jpg files or cut and pasting into Power Point just to show things like 2000, 2003 and 2007 demographics.While these techniques worked, it was never quite what you wanted to show and always was clunky..

I asked Pierre Lemire, CTO for Autodesk's Infrastructure Division, about the concept of Temporal GIS and while he found the subject interesting and it had been given some thought, there didn't seem to be any plans to include that functionality in any future products.However, it does exist in AutoDesk products as third party integration.

I saw it in action by a company called 4DataLink - Time Centric Integration Solutions (http://www.4datalink.com).There slogan "Time Travel Through Data".

One of their demo examples is a utilities electrical network, showing the status of the network through time.This is the sort of mechanism is used to trace outages or service variances and see what happened when. The idea is to show the network's transition from one set of conditions to another against a constantly moving date, time stamp.

There is an electric network in a neighborhood where two blocks have experience a high level of service outages.The placement of an additional transformer reduced those outages, but what was very telling was seeing that transition over time in a continuously variable view.Certainly there is an opportunity for doing what if analysis, over time.Of course time is fluid and so is their display

4Datalink also applies their temporal engine to finance, marketing and other disciplines.

Data storage is done using both spatial and temporal data using, X, Y, Z and Tb & Te dates (begin date and end date).Imagery can be attached, but is stored as a BLOB in the database.

An obvious use for Business Geographers is modeling performance over time.Many models predict a future, what would be really cool is to see the prediction as it comes to pass.

Published Thursday, December 11th, 2003

Written by Hal Reid

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