Glossary of
terms commonly used in geospatial technology

 Here is a glossary of terms commonly used in geospatial

AIS: Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a tracking
system used in maritime applications. It uses VHF radio signals to
collect and transmit vessel information such as position, speed, and

Analytic ready Data (ARD): Analytic Ready Data (ARD) refers
to pre-processed geospatial data that has been standardized,
calibrated, and enhanced to facilitate analysis and modelling tasks. 

AOI stands for Area of Interest. It represents a
specific geographic region or location that is the focus of analysis
or investigation.  

Attribute Data: It refers to non-spatial information
associated with spatial data. For example, in a GIS, attribute data
could include population figures, land use categories, or
temperature values. 

: It is the art and science of mapmaking. It
involves the creation, study, and interpretation of maps, including
their design, production, and use. 

CE90 stands for Circular Error 90%. It is a measure of
positional accuracy in remote sensing and describes the radial
distance from the true location within which 90% of points fall. 

DEM stands for Digital Elevation Model. It is a digital
representation of the Earth’s surface that displays the elevation
values of terrain features. 

Digital Elevation Model (DEM):
It is a digital representation
of the Earth’s surface topography. A DEM provides elevation values
for each point on the surface and is often used in terrain analysis
and 3D visualization.

Digital Surface Model (DSM):
It is a digital representation
of the Earth’s surface, including both natural and man-made
features. DSMs capture the elevation of objects on the Earth’s
surface, such as buildings, vegetation, and terrain.

Digital Terrain Model (DTM):
It is a digital representation
of the bare Earth’s surface, excluding above-ground features such as
buildings and vegetation. DTM focuses on the topography and relief
of the terrain, providing elevation data without any additional

Earth observation (EO) satellite
: EO Satellite also known as
a remote sensing satellite, is a type of satellite designed to
capture data and images of the Earth’s surface from space. These
satellites are equipped with various sensors and instruments that
allow them to gather information about the planet’s atmosphere,
land, oceans, and other features.

Earth Observation:
It refers to the process of collecting
information about the Earth’s surface using remote sensing
technologies, such as satellites or aircraft. Earth observation
provides valuable data on various aspects, including land cover,
climate patterns, and environmental changes.

Electro-optical (EO):
Electro-optical (EO) refers to the
technology and systems that combine electronics and optics for
sensing and imaging applications.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a standard
network protocol used for transferring files between computers over
a network. It is commonly used to upload and download geospatial

It is the process of analyzing geospatial data
to extract meaningful insights and make informed decisions.
Geoanalytics involves techniques such as spatial statistics, data
mining, and modelling to understand spatial relationships and

: Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity
where participants use GPS or mobile devices to navigate to hidden
containers (called geocaches) located at specific coordinates. It
combines technology, exploration, and treasure hunting.

Geocoding is the process of assigning geographic
coordinates (latitude and longitude) to addresses or other
location-based data. It enables the mapping and analysis of
address-based information.

: A Geodatabase is a database specifically
designed to store, manage, and analyze geospatial data. It provides
a structured framework for organizing and maintaining spatial

It is a virtual boundary defined in geospatial
technology to trigger a specific action or notification when a
mobile device or object enters or exits the designated area.
Geofencing has various applications, such as location-based
marketing, asset tracking, and safety monitoring. 

Geographic Information System (GIS): It is a system designed
to capture, store, analyze, manage, and present spatial or
geographic data. It allows for the integration of different types of
data, such as maps, satellite imagery, and demographic information. 

It is the collective term used for all types
of geospatial data and related information. Geoinformation includes
maps, satellite imagery, sensor data, attribute data, and any other
data with a spatial component. 

It refers to the integration of geospatial
data, analysis, and visualization techniques to support
decision-making processes. GeoIntelligence combines spatial
information with other data sources to provide valuable insights for
planning, resource management, and risk assessment. 

Geoportal: It is a web-based platform or portal that provides
access to geospatial data, services, and applications. Geoportals
often offer search and discovery tools, data download options, and
mapping capabilities to enable users to find and utilize geospatial
information easily. 

Georeferencing is the process of aligning
spatial data to a specific coordinate system, allowing it to be
accurately displayed and analyzed within a geospatial framework. 

Geospatial Metadata:
It refers to the information that
describes the characteristics, quality, and content of geospatial
data. Geospatial metadata includes details such as data source,
accuracy, projection, and update frequency, which help users
understand and assess the data’s suitability for their needs.

Geospatial Technology:
It refers to the technology that is
used to acquire, store, manipulate, analyze, and visualize spatial

Geospatial Web Services:
They are standardized protocols and
interfaces that allow geospatial data and processing capabilities to
be shared over the internet. Geospatial web services enable data
integration, interoperability, and distributed processing across
different platforms and applications. 

GIS stands for Geographic Information System. It is a
system designed to capture, store, analyze, and display geospatial
data. GIS combines hardware, software, data, and methods for
managing and analyzing geographic information. 

Global Positioning System (GPS):
It is a satellite-based
navigation system that provides precise location and time
information anywhere on Earth. GPS is widely used for mapping,
navigation, and surveying purposes. 

GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System. It
is a collective term used to refer to navigation systems that use
multiple satellite constellations, including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo,
and BeiDou. 

GPS: GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a
satellite-based navigation system that allows users to determine
their precise location on the Earth’s surface. 

GSD stands for Ground Sampling Distance. It represents
the distance on the ground that each pixel in an image or dataset
represents. Smaller GSD values indicate higher spatial resolution. 

Incidence Angle:
Incidence Angle refers to the angle at which
an electromagnetic wave strikes the Earth’s surface. In remote
sensing, it affects the quality and interpretation of satellite

Land Use/Land Cover
: Land Use/Land Cover refers to the
categorization and classification of the Earth’s surface based on
the activities or materials found on it (land use) and the physical
or biological characteristics of the surface (land cover). 

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging): It is a remote sensing
technology that uses laser pulses to measure distances to the
Earth’s surface. LiDAR data is commonly used for creating highly
accurate terrain models and 3D point clouds. 

MWIR stands for Mid-Wave Infrared. It refers to the
portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that lies between the SWIR
and long-wave infrared (LWIR) ranges. MWIR imagery is used for
thermal imaging and certain material analyses. 

NIR stands for Near-Infrared. It refers to the portion
of the electromagnetic spectrum that lies adjacent to the visible
light spectrum. NIR imagery is useful for vegetation analysis and
other applications. 

ONA stands for Off-Nadir Angle. It refers to the angle
between the line of sight from a satellite sensor to the ground and
the vertical direction directly beneath the satellite. 

Optical Imagery:
Optical imagery refers to images captured by
sensors that detect visible light. It provides detailed information
about the Earth’s surface, including colors and textures. 

Orthoready Data:
Orthoready Data refers to geospatial data
that has undergone orthorectification, making it ready for analysis
and interpretation.

Orthorectification is the process of
removing geometric distortions from satellite or aerial images to
make them accurate representations of the Earth’s surface. It
involves correcting for terrain variations and sensor effects. 

Pan sharpen natural color (PSNC):
Pan sharpening technique
applied specifically to natural color imagery to enhance the spatial
resolution while preserving the natural color appearance. 

: Pansharpening is a technique that combines
high-resolution panchromatic imagery with lower-resolution
multispectral imagery to create a single image with both high
spatial and spectral resolution. 

: Polarization refers to the orientation of the
electric field vector of an electromagnetic wave. In SAR imagery,
different polarization modes are used to enhance the interpretation
of surface features and materials. 

Radiometric correction:
Radiometric correction is the process
of adjusting satellite imagery to remove variations in brightness
and contrast caused by atmospheric conditions and sensor

Raster data is a type of geospatial data
representation that divides the Earth’s surface into a grid of cells
or pixels. Each pixel contains a value representing a specific
attribute or measurement. 

Remote Sensing:
It is the acquisition of information about an
object or phenomenon without direct physical contact. It involves
the use of satellites, aircraft, or other sensors to collect data,
such as imagery or spectral measurements, from a distance. 

Resolution refers to the level of detail or
clarity in an image or dataset. In EO satellites, it typically
represents the smallest discernible ground feature that can be

RF stands for Radio Frequency. In the context of
geospatial technology, it refers to the use of radio waves for
communication or remote sensing applications. 

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. It refers to the three
primary colors used in combination to create a wide range of colors
in digital imagery. 

RMSE stands for Root Mean Square Error. It is a
statistical measure used to quantify the difference between
predicted and actual values. In geospatial analysis, RMSE can be
used to assess the accuracy of models or predictions.   

SAR Imagery:
SAR imagery refers to images captured by
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors. SAR uses radar signals to
create images and is particularly useful for mapping land features
and monitoring changes. 

SAR satellite
: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites use
radar technology to capture images of the Earth’s surface. SAR can
penetrate clouds and capture data regardless of daylight or weather

Spatial accuracy:
Spatial accuracy refers to the correctness
or precision of the spatial information in geospatial data. It
measures how closely the data represents the actual geographic
locations or features. 

Spatial Analysis:
It is the process of examining spatial data
to uncover patterns, relationships, and trends. Spatial analysis
techniques include buffering, overlay, interpolation, and network

Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI):
It is a framework of
technologies, policies, and standards for managing and sharing
geospatial data at different levels, from local to national or
global. SDIs promote data interoperability, facilitate data
discovery, and support decision-making processes across multiple

Spatial Data
: It refers to any data that is related to a
specific location on the Earth’s surface. Spatial data can be
represented as points, lines, polygons, or raster grids.

Spatial Database: It is a database that is optimized for
storing and querying spatial data. Spatial databases support spatial
indexing, spatial functions, and spatial queries to efficiently
manage and retrieve spatial information. 

Spatial Join:
It is a geospatial operation that combines
attributes from two different spatial datasets based on their
spatial relationship. For example, a spatial join can match points
within a polygon or identify the nearest neighbor for each feature
in a dataset. 

Spatial Query:
A Spatial Query is a search or analysis
operation that retrieves geospatial data based on specific spatial
relationships or criteria. It allows users to extract information
from a geospatial dataset based on its spatial attributes. 

Spatial Resolution:
It refers to the level of detail or the
size of the smallest discernible feature in a geospatial dataset.
Higher spatial resolution means more detailed data. 

Sun Angle:
Sun Angle refers to the angle between the
direction of the Sun and the Earth’s surface at a particular
location. It affects the illumination and shadowing of objects in
satellite imagery. 

SWIR stands for Short-Wave Infrared. It refers to the
portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that lies between the NIR
and mid-wave infrared (MWIR) ranges. SWIR imagery is used for
various applications, including mineral exploration and moisture

Terrain refers to the physical characteristics and
features of the Earth’s surface, including elevation, slope, and

: Topology refers to the spatial relationships and
connectivity between geographic features. It defines how points,
lines, and polygons relate to one another in a geospatial dataset. 

Vector data is a type of geospatial data
representation that uses points, lines, and polygons to represent
geographic features. It stores coordinates and attribute information
for each feature. 

Wavelength refers to the distance between two
successive points of a wave. In geospatial technology, different
wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation are used to capture and
analyze data from the Earth’s surface. 

Web Mapping:
It refers to the process of creating,
publishing, and interacting with maps on the internet. Web mapping
allows users to access and analyze geospatial data through web

FIle Formats

Shapefile (.shp): Shapefile is a popular vector data format
developed by Esri. It stores both geometry (points, lines, polygons)
and attribute data in multiple associated files with extensions such
as .shp, .shx, and .dbf. 

GeoJSON (.geojson):
GeoJSON is a format for encoding
geospatial data in JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format. It is
widely used for storing and exchanging vector data. 

KML (Keyhole Markup Language) and KMZ (compressed
KML) are file formats used for displaying geospatial data in
applications like Google Earth. They can contain both vector and
raster data, including points, lines, polygons, and overlays. 

GeoTIFF (.tif):
GeoTIFF is a georeferenced raster file format
that incorporates geographic metadata. It allows storing satellite
imagery, aerial photos, and other types of raster data with spatial

NetCDF (.nc)
: NetCDF (Network Common Data Form) is a
self-describing, machine-independent format commonly used for
storing multidimensional geospatial data, such as climate data,
satellite imagery, and oceanographic data. 

(Geography Markup Language): GML is an XML-based file
format for expressing geospatial features, including geometry,
attributes, and spatial relationships. It is used for data exchange
between different GIS software systems. 

Esri File Geodatabase (.gdb)
: File Geodatabase is a
proprietary file format developed by Esri for storing geospatial
data in a structured database container. It supports the storage of
various vector and raster datasets. 

GeoPackage (.gpkg)
: GeoPackage is an open standard spatial
database format designed for sharing geospatial data across
different platforms. It supports both vector and raster data and can
store multiple layers and attribute tables. 

: ASCII Grid is a text-based format for
representing gridded raster data. It stores elevation or attribute
values in a plain text file with a grid structure. 

: LAS (LiDAR Data Exchange Format) and LAZ (compressed
LAS) are file formats specifically designed for storing LiDAR point
cloud data. They store point coordinates, attributes, and
classification information. 

: MBTiles is a format for storing tiled map data in a
SQLite database. It is commonly used for delivering map tiles in web
mapping applications. S57 

S57 ENC (Electronic Navigational Chart) is an
international standard format for storing and distributing
electronic navigational charts used in marine navigation systems.

stands for National Imagery Transmission Format. It is a
file format used for storing and transmitting geospatial and imagery
intelligence data, particularly in the defense and intelligence
communities. NITF was developed by the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) of the United States.  

These are just a few key terms in the field of geospatial technology.
There are many more specialized terms and concepts depending on the
specific applications and disciplines within the geospatial domain.

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