New Discovery Methodologies in GIS: Improving the Information Retrieval Process

New Discovery Methodologies in GIS: Improving the Information Retrieval Process

Nieves R. Brisaboa (University of A Coruña, Spain), Miguel R. Luaces (University of A Coruña, Spain) and Diego Seco (University of A Coruña, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2038-4.ch022
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In the last decade, the availability of on-line resources, and also the number of users accessing those resources, has grown exponentially. The information retrieval process, which aims at the improvement of the access to such resources, has been the focus of interest of many researchers. The presence of geographic data in these repositories of information is surprisingly high (for example, note that most of the web pages about business contain information about the locations of their offices). In order to properly manage this geographic data, the information retrieval process has been extended using architectures, data structures, and other techniques developed by the GIS community. This has meant the beginning of a new research field called Geographic Information Retrieval. In this chapter, the authors present a study of the state-of-the-art of this new field, and they also highlight the main open problems that will concentrate efforts during the next years.
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The need to manage information has been one of the key factors behind the consolidation of information technology as an essential driving force for the development of our society. Over the years, many system architectures, index structures, and other components have been proposed with the fundamental goal of allowing efficient access to information stored in huge document databases. The research field that focuses on this goal is called Information Retrieval (IR) (Baeza-Yates & Ribeiro-Neto, 1999) and it started with the work of Salton (1963). This research field has recently undergone a spectacular development motivated by the growth of the Internet and the need to search the Web. A very important feature of IR is that it deals with the problem of retrieving information by its content rather than its metadata. Thus, there are a number of techniques for retrieving documents of various types: texts, images, sound and video files, etc.

Textual information often includes geographic references in the text (for example, press releases usually mention the place where the events happened). Taking these geographic references into account provides added value to classic information retrieval systems. The research on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (Worboys, 2004) has dedicated much effort to study the special features of geographic information and to develop systems able to use and take advantage of them. This field has received much attention in recent years due to recent improvements in hardware that have made possible the development of such systems by many organizations. In addition, two international organizations ISO (ISO/IEC, 2002) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC, 2003) are undertaking a major collaborative effort to define standards and specifications to develop interoperable systems. At the European level, the INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) directive (European Commission, 2011) has enabled a breakthrough in the field of corporate GIS and it remarks the future importance of geographic information. Thanks to these initiatives, many public organizations are working in the development of spatial data infrastructures (GSDI, 2011) that enable them to share their spatial information.

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