Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

A query language for supporting spatial data analysis

Addressing the inherent complexity of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), an Italian company has developed a powerful and yet easy to use query language. Powerful, since it has to retrieve information over a very complex database schema that keeps track of the multiple relations within this representation of reality. Easy to use, because the access to stored information should not be limited to a restricted group of skilled users.
A query language for supporting spatial data analysis
GIS software packages have traditionally been developed by experts for experts; thus languages proposed are highly technical and dedicated to only a specific system. The consequence is increased complexity for non-computer specialists to formulate queries. In an effort to solve this lack of user-friendliness, a pictorial query language (PQL) has been proposed by an Italian company.

Intrinsically spatial, Geographic Information could be represented using a bi-dimensional space. This fact allowed each geographical query to be formulated by means of Symbolic Graphical Objects (SGOs), which are represented by points, polylines and polygons. These objects provided generic instances of geographical classes stored in the GIS database.

By the proposed pictorial query language complex queries are expressed by simple and pictorial operations. In fact, the language allows the user to: draw all the features involved in the query; define constraints on the attributes of each feature; and to point to the query target. One of the main advantages of this approach, with respect to traditional ones, is that the user does not need to learn the query language's syntax and semantics to carry out a system query.

The first version of the software has been developed in cooperation with an Italian Research Institute, which provided the necessary scientific and technical support. It has inherited the data format and much of the functionality of ESRI standard products.

Public and private organisations can use this system to efficiently manage large amounts of geographical data for applications, such as vehicle guidance and navigation, geomarketing and many other urban and rural applications. In addition, developers are looking to provide consulting services and technical assistance to potential partners in order to customise their new product according to other sectors' needs.

Related information

Record Number: 82921 / Last updated on: 2006-10-09
Domain: IT, Telecommunications