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Spatial Computing

By Shashi Shekhar, Steven K. Feiner, Walid G. Aref

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 59 No. 1, Pages 72-81

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Spatial computing encompasses the ideas, solutions, tools, technologies, and systems that transform our lives by creating a new understanding of locations—how we know, communicate, and visualize our relationship to locations and how we navigate through them. Pervasive GPS allows hikers in national parks, boaters on lakes, children visiting new places, and taxis (or Uber drivers or self-driving cars) and unmanned aerial vehicles to know their locations, nearby facilities, and routes to reach places of interest.a

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Large organizations use spatial computing for site selection, asset tracking, facility management, navigation, and logistics. Scientists use Global Navigation Satellite Systems, or GNSS24 (such as the global positioning system, or GPS), to track endangered species and better understand animal behavior, while farmers use these technologies to support precision agriculture to increase crop yields and reduce costs. Virtual globes14 (such as Google Earth and NASA World Wind) help teach schoolchildren about their local neighborhoods and the world beyond (such as the Wini Seamount near Hawaii, extraterrestrial landscapes on Mars and the Moon, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey) in an engaging and interactive way. In the wake of recent natural disasters (such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012), Google Earth has allowed millions of people to access imagery to help disaster-response-and recovery services.26 Within days of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, post-disaster roadmaps had been created thanks to citizen volunteers submitting timely local information to the popular volunteered geographic information13 website OpenStreetMaps.44


Abdullah Al-Alaj

Great description and great novel ideas. I admire the part that talks about medicine delivery to a specific part of our body by carriers that know their road. This technology would make a significant convert in our lives and would direct more scientists toward revealing the spatial secrets of human body and knowing how to navigate through it by creating virtual road map for the (let's say) clever-medicine.
Thanks for the Authours Dr.Shashi Shekhar, Dr.Steven Feiner, and Dr.Walid Aref.
Abdullah Al-Alaj
Interested in Spatial Computing

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