What can spatial data be used for, and how?

Spatial data guide

With the right spatial reference, all of your corporate data can be evaluated and planned more effectively.

This guide shows you what you need to consider.

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What is spatial data?

Broadly speaking, spatial data is data with a spatial reference that assigns a unique position in a defined numerical spatial reference system, for example the longitude and latitude, to any attribute or property. Spatial data is used to represent the position, shape, size, or property of an object on a map, such as a city, road, mountain, or any other point of interest (POI). While this spatial data used to be primarily recorded on analog maps, spatial data today is processed and provided digitally.

Copyright: 2022 PTV Planung Transport Verkehr GmbH

Which kinds of spatial data are there?

Spatial data is divided into geographical data and demographic data:

  • Geographical data contains geographical properties, attributes or positions such as street networks, territory boundaries and address directories, but also aerial imagery, topography data or elevation models.
  • Demographic data is understood to be data with spatial reference which provides insights into the population, its purchasing power, economic activities and similar.

Another way to distinguish between raster data and vector data is more related to the way in which the spatial references are represented: While raster data is laid out as bitmaps in a fixed matrix, vector data consists of points, lines and polygons with geographic positions and shapes which are determined by coordinates.

Copyright: 2022 PTV Planung Transport Verkehr GmbH / GeoJunxion

How is spatial data used or applied?

Spatial data is typically used in a GIS, a geographical information system. Companies or organizations can use a GIS to add a spatial reference to all kinds of company, market or customer data and thus create analyses, forecasts, models and visualizations.

However, there is also a whole range of spatial data that can be used in stand-alone solutions without their own GIS, such as route distances for determining distances or the geographic coordinates of postal addresses.