Dr. Strangedata or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the_geom

This talk is about practical methods for managing performance and interactivity in geometry-based systems.

You may have worked with a great spatial application that was handicapped or taken out by one nasty layer, or even one pathological feature. Or maybe you over-specified an application server because you weren't comfortable estimating what capacity would be needed. 

These things happen because geometry data presents certain specialised problems. Geometry records vary in size. Common operations on geometry are complex. And in a way that's hard to predict, the spatial relations described by geometry bring a varying number of these variably complex records into play. 

Big ideas in GIS history take aim at this lumpy and uneven source data: the spatial index and the map render cache are two famous examples. But even when we use these ideas to make our interactions with geometry more predictable, we still face anxiety about tricky cases—the coastline feature with hundreds of thousands of vertices, the mining exploration proposal with a hundred thousand surveyed drilling points, or the State cadastre. 

In GIS we usually don't do a great job of measuring and controlling our geometry, and we are lazy designing for complexity. But with a more proactive approach to data management, and an improved understanding of particular spatial operations, we can all learn to love the_geom!

Presentation type: Full length
Session: The_Geom: A Space Oddity


Tom Lynch

Tom has been developing spatial applications in a wide range of contexts since 2004. He has worked across product development in raster and digital video processing, and has consulted to Australian government agencies and the private sector on spatial visualisation, data management and productivity applications. His first FOSS4G experience was presenting on the open licensing of the ECW SDK at OSG 2005. In recent years he has been the technical lead on a series of reactive web applications with a spatial aspect. Currently, he has teamed up with other parties to work on a set of METS applications, both mobile and desktop, which are built from the ground up on FOSS—targeting the efficient collection and visualisation of remote sensed and field data for mine site rehabilitation.