Voronoi-based region approximation for geographical information retrieval with gazetteers
Gazeteers and geographical thesauri can be regarded as parsimonious spatial models that associate geographical location with place names and encode some semantic relations between the names. They are of particular value in processing information retrieval requests in which the user employs place names to specify geographical context. Typically the geometric locational data in a gazetteer are confined to a simple footprint in the form of a centroid or a minimum bounding rectangle, both of which can be used to link to a map but are of limited value in determining spatial relationships. Here we describe a Voronoi diagram method for generating approximate regional extents from sets of centroids that are respectively inside and external to a region. The resulting approximations provide measures of areal extent and can be used to assist in answering geographical queries by evaluating spatial relationships such as distance, direction and common boundary length. Preliminary experimental evaluations of the method have been performed in the context of a semantic modelling system that combines the centroid data with hierarchical and adjacency relations between the associated place names.
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