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Geographical Information Systems, Spatial Data Analysis and Decision Making in Government

Tomlinson, RF; (1974) Geographical Information Systems, Spatial Data Analysis and Decision Making in Government. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

Manual and computer-aided techniques for handling location-specific data are viewed, not in terms of their ability to produce maps, but in the broader role of storing, manipulating, and displaying such data. The characteristics, sources, and supply of spatial data are discussed. Manual techniques for handling mapped data are examined as the benchmarks of traditional capability against which the new computer-aided methods must be judged. The storage of spatial data in electronic computers is reviewed. General categories of computer-aided techniques based on their storage format are examined and their characteristics are illustrated with specific examples. The Canada Geographic Information System, whose development was initiated and directed by the author, is examined in this context. The current overall ability to handle spatial data is analysed within a framework of data characteristics and system capabilities. The categories of different capabilities emerge, their institutional backgrounds are made clear, but questions are raised about the way in which the techniques are developing, their usefulness, and the future progress of such geographic information systems. Formal spatial analysis and government decision making are examined in terms of their use of data. The contribution of existing geographic information systems to these processes is critically appraised. Within the discipline of geography, it is suggested that the mutual development of formal spatial models and geographic information systems will lead to future beneficial shifts of emphasis in both fields of endeavour. Within government, changes in operational procedure and the possibility of changes in the decision-making process are discussed. Organizational structures to facilitate the use of data stores are postulated. It is apparent that the development of geographic information systems cannot sensibly proceed further in isolation, but must be undertaken as an integral part of the very large structure of data gathering, data analysis, and decision making.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Geographical Information Systems, Spatial Data Analysis and Decision Making in Government
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1563584
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