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Software Evaluations






Case Studies Index

The Visualisation of Area-based Spatial Data

Editorial Introduction

As is noted in several other Case Studies in this set, human geographers, at least in the UK, have probably made more use of visualization than any other discipline within the social sciences. In part, this results from the obvious centrality of the map as a means of communicating, storing and analysing geographical patterns. In part, too, it results from proximity to visualization practice in the physical sciences through contact with physical geographers. Less academic, but none the less important has been the historically good level of access and use of computing in research and, increasingly, in application of geographical research related to how the discipline in the UK has been funded.
However, viewed from the disciplinary perspective of geography both standard statistical analysis packages and the unmodified ViSc systems are deficient in their abilities to produce and modify maps or to integrate with the now universal geographical information systems used to store and organise the data. To date, this deficiency is being made good by the development of systems for what the authors of this Case Study call Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA). Four such systems are compared, but in making the comparison an important step was the development of a set of task-oriented evaluation criteria. These are certain to be of more general interest.

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