OCommGISTAM 2018 Abstracts

Short Papers
Paper Nr: 2

The Use of Geographical Information Systems in a Different Spatial Context


Hugo Teixeira, Maria de Fátima Pina and Hernâni Gonçalves

Abstract: Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been widely used in different study areas, to acquire, organize, visualize and analyse spatial data. Since the 1960s, when the first GIS were launched, until nowadays, a revolution in the way geoinformation is produced and analyzed have occurred. For centuries, maps were exclusively produced by cartographers and geographers but the popularization of GIS, accomplished by a larger availability of data, allowed professionals from all the disciplines to produce maps. With GIS, maps became more than merely ways to visualize data and turned into complex and powerful analytical tools. Despite the variety of uses of GIS and the tremendous software evolution in the last decades, the interpretation of what is spatial data as not changed over time, and the different applications of GIS worldwide are almost all referring to the geographical features of an external territory. Nevertheless, a territory is not necessarily an external geographical context. According to Milton Santos, the territory is a space where people and processes interact, where the space is formed by an indivisible, solidary and contradictory set of systems of objects and actions in which history takes place. The objective of this study is to propose an innovative use of GIS tools, to analyse data for different spaces or territories, for instance the indoor space of complex buildings such as factories, universities or hospitals, allowing to make better and informed decisions. In some buildings the circulation of persons per day is higher than the population of some small cities and its complexity of can be better managed within a GIS environment. We propose a methodology to establish an analogy between the indoor territory of a building and the geographical territory, using GIS to explore the distribution of events and/or phenomena occurring within the walls of the territory of the building, both spatial and temporally. For instance, if a building would be a “country”, the floors could be seen as “regions” of this “country”, the services/departments could be seen as “municipalities”, the rooms as “parishes”, the desks (or beds in the hospitals) as the “addresses”, the corridors, stairs and lifts as “the road network”, the water system as the “hydrography”, and so on. Within these analogies in mind, the implementation of an indoor GIS is made in a similar way of the traditional GIS implementation and the possibilities of analysis are infinite. The challenge is to transform analogical or CAD-type charts of the buildings into GIS maps, by creating topology defining how features are related to each other’s, a similar effort that was made in the 1980s to produce the GIS digital libraries of maps. Then, the editing phase will eliminate redundancy and errors such undershoot, overshoot, and sliver polygons. After, geocodes must be attributed to each space allowing to georeference data from different databases. And finally, data can be spatially visualized and analyzed. The possibilities of analysis are vast, like the management of facilities and equipment, plans for prevention of fires, occupation health, simulation of emergency situations, optimization of resources, identification of spatial patterns of accidents, among many others. Our innovative proposal can open a new era of GIS, with new opportunities for data producers and for decision makers.