WIT Press

Should EU land use and land cover data be managed with a NoSQL document store?


Free (open access)

Paper DOI



Volume 11 (2016), Issue 3



Page Range

438 - 446




Land cover (LC) is a scientific landscape classification based on physical properties of earth materials. This information is usually retrieved through remote sensing techniques (e.g. forest cover, urban, clay content, among others). In contrast, Land use (LU) is defined from an anthropocentric point of view. It describes how a specific area is used (e.g. it is usual to indicate whether a territory supports an intensive, extensive use or it is unused). Both geospatial layers are essential inputs in many socio-economic and environmental studies. The INSPIRE directive provides technical data specifications for harmonization and sharing of voluminous LU/ LC datasets across all countries of the EU. The INSPIRE initiative proposes Object-Oriented Modelling as a data modelling methodology. However, the most used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are built upon relational databases. This may jeopardize LU/LC data usability, since GIS practitioners will eventually face the object-relational impedance mismatch. In this paper, the authors introduce the SIOSE database (Spanish Land Cover and Land Use Information System), which was the first implementation of an object-oriented land cover and Land-use datamodel, in line with the recommendation of the INSPIRE Directive, separating both themes. SIOSE data can be downloaded as relational database files, where information describing each single LU/LC object is divided among several related tables, so database queries can be complex and time consuming. The authors show these technical complexities through a computational experience, comparing SQL and NoSQL databases for querying spatial data downloaded from SIOSE. Finally, the authors conclude that NoSQL geodatabases deserve to be further explored because they could scale for LU/LC data, both horizontally and vertically, better than relational geodatabases, improving usability and making the most of the EU harmonization efforts.


Land Use, Land Cover, document store, SIOSE, geodatabase, PostgreSQL, jsonb