Geographic Information Systems Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1077 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Geography

Geographic Information Systems

If the latest GIS systems can convert vector data into raster form and vice versa, is it now irrelevant to maintain a distinction between vector and raster GIS?

Despite the ability of nearly all GIS and CAD/CAM systems to complete vector-to-raster conversions and vice versa, there still exists the need for keeping vector-based and raster-based data separately managed and stored. There are inherent differences between vector and raster data, each with specific attributes necessary for completing effective GIS-based data analysis. The intent of this short essay is to explain why it is still very relevant to keep a distinction between vector and raster-based GIS data.

One of the most prevalent uses of vector-based data in GIS and CAD/CAM systems is providing data and file compatibility to other design and drafting systems and applications. Vector data's inherent characteristics of being able to define X, Y coordinates and the use of quadrants to define relative locations of vector data in a design plane is critical for the development of proposed building, production plant, or larger projects that require the eventual integration of raster data to define which aspects of a project are accomplishable or not.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Geographic Information Systems Assignment

Vector-based data is invaluable in defining a series of points or nodes throughout multiple layers of as design file, making the computation of points, lines, curves, arcs, polygons and more graphics primitives usable in a Cartesian coordinate pair design space. The multiple layering of AutoCAD and other CAD/Cam applications that work in conjunction with GIS systems are a case in point. Vector-based data can be used for extensive calculations and the definition of complex geometric shapes and conceptual maps relatively quickly due to the majority of vector-based design standards having a set of graphics primitives included as a basic part of their command sets and Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs). In the context of GIS, vector-based data executes more efficiently than raster data and is therefore considered less computationally intensive. This level of computational performance is achieved however due to the much more complex data structure that vector-based design files rely on to store their data points and graphic primitives.

Taking the perspective of having raster data separated from vector data, the many applications of raster-based data in GIS that are made possible through the representation of data as pixels that can be multiple bytes deep in terms of context and color. In addition, pixels that comprise a raster image are organized into grid sizes, grid resolutions, and rely on extensive georeferencing. Raster-based data is captured both from large-scale photography from airplanes in addition to the satellite imagery. While raster-based image data has a relatively simple data structure, is compatible with remotely sensed and scanned data, and has relatively simply spatial analysis features, raster data sets require greater storage space, projection transformations are made more difficult as this imaging technology does not rely on a coordinate space like vector and it is much more difficult to represent relationships with the data as a result. In summary, vector and raster data need to be kept separate due to their inherent unique contributions each provides to GIS-based analysis. Each makes a unique contribution to the development of GIS imagery analysis and systems development.

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How to Cite "Geographic Information Systems" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Geographic Information Systems.  (2008, February 25).  Retrieved February 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Geographic Information Systems."  25 February 2008.  Web.  25 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Geographic Information Systems."  February 25, 2008.  Accessed February 25, 2021.