Spatial Data

Spatial data is used to represent the location of a specific physical object or area such as a building, lake, park or town. Spatial data is designed for use in geographical information systems (GIS) and related geolocation services. A key feature of  spatial data is that comprises points, lines, polygons and other geographic and geometric data primitives, which can located on a map, stored with an object as metadata or included as part of a communication system that can pinpoint the exact location of electronic devices.

According to the Microsoft SQL Server TechNet glossary spatial data is, “data that is represented by 2D or 3D images. Spatial data can be further subdivided into geometric data (data that can use calculations involving Euclidian geometry) and geographic data (data that identifies geographic locations and boundaries on the earth).”

Two new spatial data types were introduced with SQL Server 2008: geometric and geographic. Geometric data are represented as points on a planar surface using Euclidian geometry. For example,   the pair (7,3) where the first number is the position of a point on the horizontal (x) axis and the second number is the position of a point on the vertical (y) axis. Geographic spatial data is represented by longitude and latitude in degrees, as any point on Earth can be located latitude and longitude.

Spatial data are typically stored in databases and special software is used to plot spatial data onto a variety of useful maps so it can be used to answer a wide variety of queries. The ability to easily include geography-linked information when creating graphics greatly increases their heuristic value to researchers, consumers and business people.