What are different Data Formats in GIS?

What are Data formats?

There are two data formats that GIS is handy with: Vector and Raster data formats. Both data systems store spatial and attribute data, but in different ways. Both are georeferenced, meaning that the information is tied to a specific location on the earth’s surface using x-y coordinates defined in a standard way: a coordinate system.

Vector model: stores discrete data—eg, points (no dimension), lines (1D), and polygons (2D).

  • Benefits of vector models:
    • Can store individual feature classes, such as roads and parcels, with high degree of precision
    • Linked attribute table provides great flexibility in the number and type of attributes that can be stored about each feature.
    • Ideally suited for mapmaking because of high precision and detail—it is a compact way of storing data
    • Ideally situated to certain types of analysis problems, such as determining perimeters and areas, detecting whether features overlap, and modeling flow through networks.
  • Drawbacks
    • Poorly adapted to storing continuous surfaces, such as elevation or precipitation.
    • Contours lines can be used to represent surfaces, but calculating derived information from contours such as slope, flow direction, and aspects, is difficult.
    • Some analysis is more time consuming

Raster Model: stores continuous data—set of spatial data represented as series of small squares called cells or pixels. Each pixel contains a numeric code indicating a single attribute, and the raster is stored as an array of numbers. Eg, DEM.

  • Benefits of Rater model:
    • Ideally suited to store continuous information because each cell can have a value completely different from its neighbors.
    • Simple and rapid analyses.
    • Extensive set of analyses tools for raster available.
  • Drawbacks of raster:
    • Suffer from trade-offs between precision and storage space to a greater extent than vectors do.
    • Can store only one numeric attribute per raster, whereas vector can store hundreds of attribute values for each spatial feature and can handle text data more efficiently.

3 thoughts on “What are different Data Formats in GIS?”

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