Spatial Database Management Systems

Introduction to spatial database

A spatial database is a database designed to store, manage, and retrieve information related to objects in a spatial context, such as their location, shape, and size. This type of database is optimized to handle complex spatial data types, relationships, and operations, such as points, lines, polygons, and spatial indexing. Examples of spatial databases include PostGIS, Oracle Spatial, and SQL Server Spatial. They are commonly used in geographic information systems (GIS), mapping, and location-based services.

Data Storage

Spatial database management system (SDBMS) is a database management system specifically designed for storing, manipulating, and retrieving spatial data. Spatial data refers to data that is associated with a location, such as geographical data or map data.

In an SDBMS, data is stored in a spatial database which is a type of database that has been specifically optimized to store and manage spatial data. The data stored in an SDBMS includes points, lines, polylines, polygon features, and other geographical features such as roads, buildings, and rivers.

The data stored in an SDBMS is typically organized using a spatial index, which is a data structure that enables the database to efficiently locate and retrieve spatial data based on its location. This is achieved by dividing the data into smaller, more manageable units and organizing them in a hierarchical structure.

SDBMS typically uses a coordinate-based data model, which represents geographical data as a set of x, y, and z coordinates. This data model allows for precise location data and enables the database to accurately perform spatial analysis and calculations, such as finding the nearest point, calculating distances, and performing spatial join operations.

In conclusion, SDBMS provides efficient storage and retrieval of spatial data by using a specialized data model, spatial indexing, and optimized algorithms for spatial analysis and calculations.

Database Structure Models

  1. Object-Relational Model: This model uses a combination of both the relational and object-oriented models to store and manage spatial data. It enables the storage of complex data structures such as polygon and lines in the same database with other traditional data types.
  2. Geodetic Model: This model uses a geographic coordinate system to represent spatial data. It stores data as points, lines, and polygons in terms of longitude and latitude values. The Geodetic Model is commonly used in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  3. Raster Model: This model represents spatial data as a grid of cells or pixels. Each cell in the grid contains a value that represents a feature in the real world. The Raster Model is commonly used in remote sensing applications.
  4. Network Model: This model represents spatial data as a network of interconnected nodes and edges. It is used to represent transportation networks, water networks, and other complex systems that have interconnections.
  5. Entity-Relationship Model: This model is based on the relational database model and is used to represent relationships between entities. It is commonly used to represent spatial data as relationships between objects and their attributes.
  6. Object-Oriented Model: This model uses object-oriented programming concepts to store and manage spatial data. Objects are created as classes, and each object represents a feature in the real world. The Object-Oriented Model is commonly used in 3D modelling applications.

Database Management system

A spatial database management system (SDBMS) is a specialized type of database management system that is designed to store, manage, and retrieve spatial data, or data that is related to location and geography. An SDBMS typically uses a geographic information system (GIS) to store data in a spatial format and to support spatial analysis and visualization.

Some of the key components of an SDBMS include:

  1. Spatial data storage: An SDBMS stores geographic and spatial data in a spatial format that can be easily managed, accessed, and analysed.
  2. Spatial data indexing: An SDBMS includes tools for indexing spatial data, allowing for fast retrieval of spatial data based on geographic location and other criteria.
  3. Spatial data analysis: An SDBMS includes tools for spatial data analysis, including the ability to perform spatial queries, create maps, and perform spatial analysis on the data.
  4. Spatial data visualization: An SDBMS includes tools for spatial data visualization, allowing users to view and interact with the data in a visual format.
  5. Spatial data management: An SDBMS includes tools for managing spatial data, including data backup, data recovery, and data security.

Some popular SDBMS include Oracle Spatial, PostGIS, and SQL Server Spatial.


Normalization in spatial database management systems refers to the process of organizing data in a database into multiple tables to reduce data redundancy and improve data integrity. The goal is to eliminate data anomalies that can occur when data is duplicated or inconsistent.

In a spatial database, the normalization process takes into account the spatial nature of the data, which requires additional consideration for the relationships between data entities. For example, a spatial database might contain tables for points, lines, and polygon features, each with their own attributes. Normalization helps to ensure that these features are stored in separate tables and that the relationships between them are managed properly.

Normalization in spatial databases can be performed using various normalization techniques, including first normal form (1NF), second normal form (2NF), and third normal form (3NF). The specific normalization techniques used will depend on the specific requirements of the database, but the overall goal is to ensure that the data is stored in an efficient and organized manner, with minimum redundancy.

Overall, normalization is an important step in ensuring the quality and reliability of data in spatial database management systems. It helps to ensure that data is stored in a consistent and organized manner, reducing the risk of data anomalies and making it easier to maintain and update the data.

Spatial Relationships

Spatial relationships in spatial database management system refer to the connections between spatial objects, such as points, lines, and polygons, based on their relative position and proximity in a geographic space. These relationships can be used to define the relationships between spatial objects such as proximity, adjacency, containment, and intersection.

Some common types of spatial relationships include:

  1. Adjacency: This relationship is defined when two objects share a common boundary or edge. For example, adjacent parcels of land.
  2. Proximity: This relationship is defined when two objects are close to each other but do not touch. For example, two cities that are near each other but not adjacent.
  3. Containment: This relationship is defined when one object completely surrounds or contains another object. For example, a city contained within a state.
  4. Intersection: This relationship is defined when two objects intersect or overlap with each other. For example, a road intersecting with a river.

These spatial relationships are critical for spatial database management systems because they provide important information for spatial analysis and decision-making. For example, a spatial relationship can be used to identify the nearest hospitals to a location or to determine if a proposed building site is within a flood zone.

Spatial model and techniques

A spatial database management system (SDBMS) is a database management system that is specifically designed to manage and manipulate spatial data. It uses advanced spatial data models and techniques to represent, store, and analyze geographic data.

  1. Spatial Model: A spatial model is a mathematical representation of geographical data, which is used to store and manage spatial data in a spatial database. It defines the structure and relationships of the data and is used to define the data types, constraints, and operations that can be performed on the data. There are two main types of spatial models: vector and raster.
  2. Vector Model: A vector model represents spatial data using points, lines, and polygons shapes. It is commonly used to represent geographical data such as streets, roads, boundaries, and other geographical features. The data is stored as coordinates, and spatial operations such as proximity, intersections, and overlays are performed using vector algorithms.
  3. Raster Model: A raster model represents spatial data as a grid of cells, where each cell represents a particular geographic feature or attribute. It is commonly used to represent data such as digital images, satellite images, and elevation data. Raster data is stored as pixels, and spatial operations such as buffering, reclassification, and overlay are performed using raster algorithms.
  4. Spatial Techniques: Spatial techniques are algorithms and methods used to manipulate and analyze spatial data in a SDBMS. Some of the common spatial techniques include:
  • Spatial Indexing: A spatial index is a data structure that is used to quickly locate and retrieve spatial data. It is used to speed up spatial queries and improve the performance of spatial operations.
  • Spatial Query: A spatial query is a type of SQL query used to retrieve spatial data from a database. It allows users to search for specific geographic features or attributes based on their location or proximity to other features.
  • Spatial Joins: A spatial join is a type of database operation that combines two or more spatial datasets based on their spatial relationship. It is used to combine and analyze data from different sources based on their location.
  • Spatial Analysis: Spatial analysis is the process of using spatial data and techniques to perform operations such as spatial interpolation, density analysis, and spatial clustering. It is used to gain insights into geographical patterns and trends in the data.

In conclusion, the spatial model and techniques in a SDBMS are critical components in managing and analyzing spatial data. They allow for the efficient representation, storage, and analysis of geographical data, which is essential for a wide range of applications, including geographic information systems, environmental modelling, and urban planning.

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