GIS software development dive-in, the essentials

Abto Software
4 min read5 days ago

This post is a quick overview of an Abto Software blog article, written by Yurii Pelekh.

Geographic information system applications are designed for gathering and managing geographic information. GIS applications completely transformed how information — geographic and attribute information, and similar — is captured, stored, analyzed, and displayed.

The global GIS market is estimated to generate $14.8 billion by 2024 and outmatch $31.2 billion by 2030.

GIS software: data storage

Geospatial information typically contains specific coordinates and addresses, and similar complex structures. This information is captured and managed for mapping and cartography, all existing location-based services, and across other segments.

To be efficiently queried, geospatial information requires appropriate data storage.

Geospatial databases are the critical element for designing a robust geographic information system technology. These databases are utilized for querying and analyzing voluminous amounts of information.

The right data storage is essential to ensure:

  • Data querying and retrieval
  • Data indexing and organization
  • Greater scalability to support geospatial applications
  • Successful integration with already implemented systems
  • Better performance
  • Regulatory compliance

PostGIS

PostGIS, open-source software program, is utilized for storing and querying geospatial data, which supports:

  • Geometry data that represents geometric shapes and structures in a Euclidean (flat) coordinate system
  • Geography data that represents geographic data, typically using longitude and latitude coordinates

Geometry types are suitable for most spatial data analysis tasks and optimized for so-called planar operations. Geography types are useful for applications that require distance calculations.

PostGIS supports spatial indexing — in order to find relevant objects, the database will leverage R-tree indexing to catalog multi-dimensional information.

To illustrate an example, let’s say you need to find all shops within the radius of 5 kilometers in a certain area. You can either write a raw SQL query or leverage object-relational mapping to work with the PostGIS database.

To note:

  • You have various tools to visualize PostGIS data (PgAdmin, QGIS)
  • While working with the PostGIS database, you can use existing docker images

Another advantage, as part of the PostgreSQL ecosystem, PostGIS allows users creating advanced applications by using other extensions:

  • pgRouting for finding the most optimal routes between points
  • MobilityDB for efficiently handling trajectories of objects that move

SpatialLite

SpatialLite, open-source software program, is providing so-called vector geodatabase functionality, and isn’t based on client-server architecture, which means:

  • The database can run on the devices itself, where the devices acts as both the server and client
  • The database can be also used by smartphones for applications that require offline mode

Abto Software has worked on an Android application alerting when users enter zones defined as dangerous. Our engineers have designed it to fetch required zone information from the server backend when online, retrieving information only about zones relevant for the current location.

We used:

  • SpatialLite to determine whether the user was inside hazard areas even without Internet connection
  • PostGIS to re-fetch relevant zone information when having Internet connection

Tile38

TIle38 is an open-source geospatial database, spatial index, and real-time geofencing server.

Tile38 is very notable for its geofencing capabilities that create virtual perimeters around real geographic areas. For example, to determine if a certain point lies within a polygon, Tile38 reverses the traditional pull model pushing notifications to a callback endpoint whenever the said point interacts with the polygon.

Tile38 supports:

  • Static geofences — fixed geofences defined around a specific geographic area
  • Roaming geofences — dynamic geofences defined around moving targets

Another thing, while working with the Tile38 database, you can use existing docker images.

Others

Several databases support spatial data querying, either through native functionality or extensions:

  • MS SQL Server database supports spatial data types since 2008
  • Oracle Spatial offers extensive spatial capabilities within the Oracle Database
  • MongoDB uses 2D and 2DSphere indexes for indexing and queries by leveraging Google S2
  • Redis provides geospatial support with its Geo API

These databases are different in approaches regarding handling spatial data, from the data types to complexity. The choice of the best-suiting database for your geographic information system software will depend on the project needs.

GIS solutions: moving further

GIS mapping: custom map tile servers

Some companies are interested in dedicated hosting services for their GIS software, but why?

In general, software developers would choose existing public map services (GoogleMaps, MapBox, and similar). But imagine it’s about the management and distribution of important geospatial information for governments, including emergency services’ locations.

Speaking about sensitive information, it’s essential this information is being securely managed and accessed. Quite reasonable, in such a scenario, self-hosted solutions are the best option.

GIS system: client-side map display technologies

When approaching software development associated with delivering GIS software, to display the tiles and data in the geospatial database, you’ll need a JS map library.

Map libraries provision functionality for creating interactive maps and integrating geographic information. These libraries provide features for displaying those maps, adding layers, and enabling user interactions.

Summing up

Abto Software has the proven knowledge and experience to deliver geographic information system technology. Our company can cover every stage from initial data capturing to building geo information system applications, as well as maintenance.

To read more about our expertise on databases, maps and location services, libraries, servers, and more — check out our blog.

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Abto Software

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