http://www.sqlservercentral.com/blogs/pearlknows/2013/09/17/geometry-in-the-cloud-where-geospatial-data-meets-the-cloud/

Printed 2014/07/25 02:46PM

Geometry in the Cloud - where geospatial data meets the cloud.

By Robert Pearl, 2013/09/17

Mount Olympus: Stratosphere: It was inevitable that two innovative technologies would merge to create a world of potential in the way we live, work, play, and do business.  I read an interesting article this morning on SmallBizTechnology.com, and wanted to share, and maybe inspire many of you to take it to the next level.

The really cool thing about this is that both aspects of geospatial and cloud technologies are a very exciting part of the platform we all know and love, SQL Server.  As of SQL version 2008, Microsoft introduced Geospatial support with two new data types.  SQL Server 2008 supports two different spatial data types: GEOMETRY and GEOGRAPHY

Geospatial data types allow the storage of spatial data in SQL tables (in the form of points, lines and polygons) and a set of functions to allow the manipulation of this data. New spatial indexes accompany the geo data types to enhance the performance of these functions.

I will dispense with the professorial dissertation of geometry and geometric shapes, and instead point you to some technical links, if you’d like to geekify your mind (Hey, I think I just coined a term).  You can check out a basic overview at WikiBooks introduction on Geospatial Data in SQL Server.  .  Lines and Points and Polygons – oh my!

Furthermore, being that there were major improvements to the spatial support in SQL Server 2012 with the addition of new spatial data classes, and methods.  I will again leave this technical treatise to SQL MVP, author, and .NET expert (and Brooklyn brother), Lenni Lobel, who wrote an excellent article on the New Spatial Features in SQL 2012.  Everything you wanted to know about the topic and were afraid to ask will be there, including explanations, code examples and other links. Lenni also recently announced his new book that he’s working on as part of the Microsoft Press “Step By Step Series”, Windows Azure Step By Step.  The book is intended for readers to quickly get productive with Windows Azure SQL Database — the cloud version of SQL Server.  I mention this as the second component of this article.

And as we know, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so to prove this via TSQL, Pinal Dave, of SQLBlog Authority, sourcing Lenni’s aforementioned article, uses the ShortestLineTo Function to not only demonstrate the distance between shapes, but also a real world example of the distance between India and Sri Lanka (there’s a trip I want to take ;-).  You can see Pinal’s article on Finding the Shortest Distance Between Two Shapes, by clicking on the entitled link.

According to Michael Coles, SQL Developer Expert and Author, spatial data has been in use for as long as people have been making maps. With the advent of Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies and geographic visualizations of Business Intelligence (BI) information, spatial data has achieved a new status in the world of databases. In this great volume, Michael shows how you can Load Spatial Data using SSIS.  He also presented with me, sometime back, on this topic, entitled “Where in the World”, highlighting uses of Geospatial data and Bing Maps!

This all brings me back to the point of the article. What’s becoming clear is that the cloud is beginning to have an impact on the strategic direction of business, and is no longer pie in the sky.  (pun intended J)  Having access to files anywhere you can plug in your pc is essential part of a global business.  What we call Windows Azure SQL Database (WASD), and geo spatial data, is taking shape in its more business friendly terms – cloud computing and geolocation technology will create new opportunities for developing apps and programs that change the way we live and do business. 

According to the article, The Evolution of Geolocation Technology and How It’s Changing The Way We Live and Do Business , one can upload a file, document, photo, video, etc., and tie it to a GPS location.  This would allow other users in that location download those locale-specific files.  Going a step further, based on your current geographic location, you can receive alerts and information of what’s in the area. 

For example, pull up maps and floor plans of a building, say if you’re in a museum, or even a mall!  Dining at Che Robere?  Table 14 is available, and here are the specials tonight. Maybe some discount Broadway tickets as you pass Les Miserables?  Do you often shop in a store, and then start Googling for some useless coupon codes?  Perhaps when you walk into Payless (just an example), you’ll instantly get a coupon sent to your mobile device and save $5.00 on a pair of shoes. The opportunities for business and every day applicable use, is unlimited.

We have a lot of this technology already, on our smart phones.  For example, you’ll get the local weather forecast automatically depending on where you are. The concept is not new, but it is interesting to watch the trends of new businesses starting to innovate solutions around these core technologies.  The fact that SQL Server has the ability to support and integrate the cloud with geospatial data, make it all the more inspiring for us SQL Entrepreneurs to ponder about the next big idea.


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