The Nature of Geographic Information

13. Distinguishing Properties of Geographic Data


The claim that geographic information science is a distinct field of study implies that spatial data are somehow special data. Goodchild (1992) points out several distinguishing properties of geographic information. I have paraphrased four such properties below. Understanding them, and their implications for the practice of geographic information science, is a key objective of this text.

  1. Geographic data represent spatial locations and non-spatial attributes measured at certain times.
  2. Geographic space is continuous.
  3. Geographic space is nearly spherical.
  4. Geographic data tend to be spatially dependent.

Let's consider each of these properties next.