GIS Spatial Analysis
GIS spatial analysis is a rapidly changing field, and GIS packages are increasingly including analytical tools as standard built-in facilities, as optional tool-sets, as add-ins or 'analysts’.
A GIS can recognize and analyze the spatial relationships that exist within digitally stored spatial data. These topological relationships allow complex spatial modelling and analysis to be performed.
GIS hydrological models can provide a spatial element that other hydrological models lack, with the analysis of variables such as slope, aspect and watershed or catchment area. Terrain analysis is fundamental to hydrology, since water always flows down a slope. Other applications of hydrological modeling include groundwater and surface water mapping, as well as flood risk maps.
An example of use of layers in a GIS application. In this example, the forest-cover layer (light green) forms the bottom layer, with the topographic layer (contour lines) over it. Next up is a standing water layer (pond, lake) and then a flowing water layer (stream, river), followed by the boundary layer and finally the road layer on top. The order is very important in order to properly display the final result.
The combination of several spatial datasets (points, lines, or polygons) creates a new output vector dataset, visually similar to stacking several maps of the same region. These overlays are similar to mathematical Venn diagram overlays. A union overlay combines the geographic features and attribute tables of both inputs into a single new output. An intersect overlay defines the area where both inputs overlap and retains a set of attribute fields for each. A symmetric difference overlay defines an output area that includes the total area of both inputs except for the overlapping area.
Geostatistics is a branch of statistics that deals with field data, spatial data with a continuous index. It provides methods to model spatial correlation, and predict values at arbitrary locations (interpolation).
Geocoding is interpolating spatial locations (X,Y coordinates) from street addresses or any other spatially referenced data such as ZIP Codes, parcel lots and address locations. A reference theme is required to geocode individual addresses, such as a road centerline file with address ranges. The individual address locations have historically been interpolated, or estimated, by examining address ranges along a road segment.
Reverse geocoding is the process of returning an estimated street address number as it relates to a given coordinate. For example, a user can click on a road centerline theme (thus providing a coordinate) and have information returned that reflects the estimated house number. This house number is interpolated from a range assigned to that road segment. If the user clicks at the midpoint of a segment that starts with address 1 and ends with 100, the returned value will be somewhere near 50.
Graphic display techniques
Traditional maps are abstractions of the real world, a sampling of important elements portrayed on a sheet of paper with symbols to represent physical objects. People who use maps must interpret these symbols. Topographic maps show the shape of land surface with contour lines or with shaded relief.