Understanding GIS Databases

16.4.2014 Benjamin Gubler

A database can be described as a unified set of information on any given subject. Databases that store geographic coordinates data of any particular area are known as GIS database. Software which manages these databases, through creating them, and accessing them are known as GIS Database Management System (DBMS). How is this different from the files maintained to store the information?

GIS databases ensure that there is no duplicate information stored. It is a cost effective method to store data, GIS applications are separated as the applications are likely to be used over a period of time, and the database can support a number of applications concurrently. Databases allow a better exchange of information and database security standards can be easily implemented.

The main disadvantage of using a database is its complex nature, which could affect the performance, rendering integration difficult at times.  

The exceptional features of GIS Database Management System can be summed up as:

A DBMS can support various types of data. Some examples of these are text, time/date and numeric data. They can download information from other applications and databases as well as index subjects in order to speed up information retrieval. Modern DBMSs provide secure access for information stored with varying levels of priviliges for the different levels of an organisation. Inbuilt transaction managers help in updating tables in a controlled manner, as well as backup recovery.

DBMS tools allow configuration of systems and fine tuning to work with GIS application. Integrated applications include report-writer, form builders, case tools and servers for Internet connections. Most GIS database management systems have APIs. Thus however the complex the nature of information is, such systems help in managing geographic spatial information.

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