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Geovisualization: Definition & Examples

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we'll take a look at Geovisualization, what it is, and some examples. At the end, you should have a good understanding of this relatively new catch-phrase.

The Local Nature of Information

We make heavy use of local information in our daily lives. We keep an eye on weather patterns using the local news. We employ local route and traffic pattern information gleaned from online services. We even catch up on local sporting events when we grab a coffee at work. Our very position on the globe affects the content we consume. And what about volume? How do we keep on top of the raw information from any one of these information sources? The truth is we can't. There is simply too much for a person to digest. So, we look for help. And one of the ways we find it is through visualization.

What is Visualization?

Visualization is the process of conveying information by some means that we can see. Its purpose is to convert the seemingly random into a form that can be quickly understood. For instance, does a graph of blood sugar levels for the last week give a diabetic a better understanding of their diabetes than the raw glucose meter readings? Would they gain that understanding more quickly? For most of us, the answers would be 'yes' and 'yes'. We have an easier time gleaning knowledge from something presented to us in a visual form. This is an example of the visualization process. Raw information is converted to imagery and that imagery is converted to understanding.

What is Geovisualization?

Geovisualization is short for geographic visualization. It is a branch or discipline within visualization that deals solely with displaying information that has a geospatial component to it. A geospatial component is geographic or positioning information. For example, consider the weather report on the evening news. You typically have precipitation information of some sort (fog, rain, or snow) displayed over a map of the local area as a background. The visual gives you a detailed look at how much precipitation you will get, where in the local area it will appear, and at what time of day. This is Geovisualization hard at work converting raw weather and positioning information into a graphic form that we can understand in a matter of seconds.

Examples of Geovisualization

Geovisualization is used in a number of different ways. In fact, anything that can be affected by its global position is a candidate. Here are some examples:

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