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Voronoi tessellation on the ellipsoidal earth for vector data

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Voronoi tessellation, and its dual the Delaunay triangulation, provide a cohesive framework for the study and interpretation of phenomena of geographical space in two and three dimensions. The planar and spherical solutions introduce errors in the positional accuracy of both Voronoi vertices and Voronoi edges due to errors in distance computations and the path connecting two locations with planar lines or great circle arcs instead of geodesics. For most geospatial applications the introduction of the above errors is insignificant or tolerable. However, for applications where the accuracy is of utmost importance, the ellipsoidal model of the Earth must be used. Characteristically, the introduction of any positional error in the delimitation of maritime zones and boundaries results in increased maritime space for one state at the expense of another. This is a situation that may, among others, have a serious impact on the financial activities and the relations of the states concerned. In the context of previous work on maritime delimitation we show that the Voronoi diagram constitutes the ideal solution for the development of an automated methodology addressing the problem in its entirety. Due to lack of a vector methodology for the generation of Voronoi diagram on the ellipsoid, the aforementioned solution was constrained by the accuracy of existing approaches. In order to fill this gap, in this paper we deal with the inherent attributes of the ellipsoidal model of the Earth, e.g. the fact that geodesics are open lines, and we elaborate on a methodology for the generation of the Voronoi diagram on the ellipsoid for a set of points in vector format. The resulting Voronoi diagram consists of vertices with positional accuracy that is only bounded by the user needs and edges that are comprised of geodesics densified with vertices equidistant to their generators. Finally, we present the implementation of the proposed algorithm in the Python programming language and the results of two case studies, one on the formation of closest service areas and one on maritime boundaries delimitation, with the positional accuracy set to 1 cm.
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Keywords: Computational geometry; Voronoi diagram; ellipsoidal tessellation; maritime limits and boundaries; median line delimitation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cartography Laboratory, National Technical University of Athens, Zografou, Greece

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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