Scaling geospatial searches in large spatial databases

Ariel Cary, Florida International University


Modern geographical databases, which are at the core of geographic information systems (GIS), store a rich set of aspatial attributes in addition to geographic data. Typically, aspatial information comes in textual and numeric format. Retrieving information constrained on spatial and aspatial data from geodatabases provides GIS users the ability to perform more interesting spatial analyses, and for applications to support composite location-aware searches; for example, in a real estate database: “Find the nearest homes for sale to my current location that have backyard and whose prices are between $50,000 and $80,000”. Efficient processing of such queries require combined indexing strategies of multiple types of data. Existing spatial query engines commonly apply a two-filter approach (spatial filter followed by nonspatial filter, or viceversa), which can incur large performance overheads. On the other hand, more recently, the amount of geolocation data has grown rapidly in databases due in part to advances in geolocation technologies (e.g., GPS-enabled smartphones) that allow users to associate location data to objects or events. The latter poses potential data ingestion challenges of large data volumes for practical GIS databases. In this dissertation, we first show how indexing spatial data with R-trees (a typical data pre-processing task) can be scaled in MapReduce—a widely-adopted parallel programming model for data intensive problems. The evaluation of our algorithms in a Hadoop cluster showed close to linear scalability in building R-tree indexes. Subsequently, we develop efficient algorithms for processing spatial queries with aspatial conditions. Novel techniques for simultaneously indexing spatial with textual and numeric data are developed to that end. Experimental evaluations with real-world, large spatial datasets measured query response times within the sub-second range for most cases, and up to a few seconds for a small number of cases, which is reasonable for interactive applications. Overall, the previous results show that the MapReduce parallel model is suitable for indexing tasks in spatial databases, and the adequate combination of spatial and aspatial attribute indexes can attain acceptable response times for interactive spatial queries with constraints on aspatial data.

Subject Area

Geographic information science|Information science

Recommended Citation

Cary, Ariel, "Scaling geospatial searches in large spatial databases" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3502102.