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Geographic Dictionary Geography Terms

Algorithm a process of calculations, supported by mathematical proof, used to bring about a solution to a problem.

Attribute is a generic term that refers to a linked variable / information / record of an object, node, point, vector, line, arc or polygon.

AVL acronym for Automatic Vehicle Location. AVL is the integration of GIS, GPS Tracking and Wireless technolgies in automobiles / vehicles, trucking / fleet and industrial or commerical equipment. Applications include but are limited to Tracking of Vehicles, Fleet Management, Logistics, Emergency / Quick Response, Automatic Dispatching, Cargo / Stolen Property Tracking. AVL i/o devices typically also perform additional functionality such as Engine Diagnostics (on/off sensors) and Cargo / Load / Weight Sensoring.

Bathymetry the measuring of water depth mainly of seas and oceans but sometimes of deep lakes.

B2B an acronym for Business to Business, which is one of the three major forms or types of commerce (i.e. Business to Customer, Customer to Customer, Business to Business).

Cadastre/ Cadastral a record of the area, boundaries, location, value and ownership of land, achieved by a Cadastral Survey.

Census a survey, usually into the size and nature of a population, taken at a particular point in time.

Central Office is the main office / physical building where subscriber lines of a LEC are joined to switching equipment for connection of local and long distance calls. A Central Office may house several switching exchanges.

CLEC acronym for Competitive Local Exchange Carrier. A CLEC is a telecommunications provider / carrier which competes with other carriers. CLECs are the new group of telecommunication service providers apart from the original ILECs. CLECs formed in advent of divesture and beginnings of deregulation of the telecommunications industry in 1985.

Contour a line on a map joining places of equal heights and sometimes equal depths, above and below sea level.

Contour Interval is the vertical change between consecutive contours.

Coordinates the magnitudes / defacto numbers (i.e. Latitiude / Longitude) used to determine a geographic position / spot on the globe / planet earth.

Dissemination Areas small area composed of one or more neighbouring dissemination blocks, in which Census data is collected at by a Census representative. Typically these areas represent an area population of 400 to 700 persons. All of Canada is divided into Dissemination Areas.

Dissemination Blocks area equivalent to a city block bounded by intersecting streets. These areas cover all of Canada and the US.

Distance Decay the lessening force of a phenomenon of interaction with increasing distance from the location of maximum intensity.

Elevation the vertical (up and down) distance / height above the earth's horizon / sea level.

Eutrophication is the process by which ecosystems (usually lakes) become more fertile environments. As detergents, sewage and agricultural fertilizers flow in, algae bloom is stimulated. The expansion and growth of algae, chokes out / depletes the oxygen supply in the water / ecosystem, causing overall death to all species / life in the ecosystem.

Extrapolation the prediction of a value made by projecting into the future the trend that a set of data exhibits Fathom a measurement of water depth; 6 feet or 1.829 metres.

Fluvial of, or connected with, rivers.

FSA Forward Sortation Area is the first three digits (alpha-numeric-alpha) of the Canadian Postal Code, which represent a geographic polygon / district / delivery area for the Postal service. If the second digit of the FSA contains a zero, this represents a rural regional delivery versus an urban area which is coded / numbered one thru nine.

FSALDU acronym for Forward Sortation Area Local Delivery Unit is the full six-digit (alpha-numeric-alpha-numeric-alpha-numeric / A2A 2A2) Canadian postal code, which represents the final geographic delivery point for the postal service. The final delivery point can be a street address, a small range of addresses or a single building such as an office tower, apartment building or institution.

GIS is the acronym for Geographic Information System. In today's world GIS has evolved to the forefront of technology and has become a very common household name as well desired commercial technology / product / service. GIS are integrated computer applications which involve the storage, linkage and manipulation of digital / electronic maps and data. GIS creates high-tech, smart, intuitive and persuasive decision making maps to use for locating, routing, planning, trend prediction and analysis. Applications include but are not limited to Cartography, Environmental Analysis, Risk Assessment, Crime Analysis, Resource Allocation, Health Care Planning, Resource Planning, Demographic & Retail Analysis, Utility / Telco / Energy Network Planning, Satellite Imagery, GPS, AVL / Vehicle Tracking / Logistics, Routing / Street Mapping / Trip Planning, Military Planning, Google Earth, Trade Area / Trend Analysis, Market Behaviours and Research.

Geography the study / science of the earth, physical or human inter actions and relationships over space.

Human Geography the study of geography not dealing exclusively with physical landscapes. Human Geography is concern with the study and analysis of human relationships and interactions with spatial physical geography such as Economic Geography, Population Growth / Demographic Studies, Urban Planning, Agricultural and Industrial.

Hydrography the mapping and survey of watercourses, rivers, lakes, seas or oceans.

ILEC acronym for Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier. ILECs are essentially the seven regional monopolies / Regional Bell Operating Companies (Baby Bells) and Independent Operating Companies (MCI and Sprint) providing local service prior to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which removed the impediments of these companies offering long distance services, as well enabling long distance providers to offer local service. ILECs receive different regulatory controls than newer CLECs

Interpolation forming an estimate of a value with reference to known values either side of it, this method is used for contour lines or other isopleths.

Jokulhlaup is a flash flood of glacial ice meltwater, caused by volcanic actvity.


Latitude parallels of latitude are imaginary circles drawn round the earth parallel to the equator, the parallels are numbered according to the angle formed between a line from the line of latitude to the centre of the earth and a line from the centre of the earth to the equator.

LEC acronym for Local Exchange Carrier. A LEC is any telecommunications service carrier, both ILECs and CLECs are considered LECs.

Longitude the position of a point on the globe in terms of its meridian east or west of the prime meridian, expressed in degrees. These degrees may be subdivided into minutes and seconds, although decimal parts of the degree are increasingly used. Marketing Geography the geographical application of the way that production of goods is linked with their marketing.

Map a representation on a flat surface of all or part of the earth's surface or all or part of the stars. Diagrammatic maps include choropleths, dot maps, flow charts, plans and topological maps.

Mode the figure in a set of data which occurs most often. The mode is often used to indicate a class grouping rather than an individual value so that the modal class is indicated.

Mosaic a composite photograph of an area made by assembling all or part of a number of prints.

Nearest Neighbour Analysis the study or analysis of points / locations / settlements to determine regularity / patterns versus a random pattern of points / locations / settlements. Straight line (as the crow flies) distances between points are used to determine its nearest neighbour and then divided by the total number of points / locations / settlements to determine the 'observed' / 'analyzed' mean distance. The mean distance is then divided by the expected mean distance of a random pattern of points. This calculation creates a benchmark / index, the closer the calculation is to the index, the more clustered the pattern of points / locations / settlements are.

Node intersection / central points of a network / routes / lines.

Osmosis the passage of weaker solution to a stronger solution through a semi permeable membrane. In soils, the more dilute soil moisture passes by osmotic pressure into the plant roots and in this way is taken up by plants.

Ozone Layer a form of oxygen, three atoms rather two atoms per molecule as in free oxygen. The ozone layer stretches from 15 - 20 km above the earth's surface. It absorbs most of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Pixel an element of a picture, the basic unit from which an image can be built up.

Polygon a geographic term used to describe map objects in the form of an area, closed boundary or region.

Prime Meridian the "0" meridian, passing through Greenwich, London, from which all other longitudes are determined.

Projection the technique used for calculating / transforming the curvature / 3 dimensional sphere of the earth onto a 'flat' 2 dimensional map.

Qualitative concerned with quality and often applied to a judgment not backed up by objective measurement. Quantifiable able to be expressed in numberical terms.

Raster Data in Geographic Information Systems, a grid square. Raster data are spatial data expressed as a matrix of cells, with spatial order indicated in the ordering of the cells.

Rate Center is a geographic area, assigned with a V&H coordinate to determine telco billing / toll rates / airline mileage as well exchange assignments. Rate Centers are made up of several exchanges / NXXs, and in some cases several Area Codes / NPAs. Long distance billing typically applies when calls are made from one Rate Center to another.

Remote Sensing is the gathering of / or earth data collected without physically sampling it. The term typically applies to the collection of Earth Observation / Imagery Data collected by Aerial / Flown or Satellite Imagery, via remote sensors and infrared processing.

Scale the distance between a map and the 'real' / cooresponding distance on the earth or ground. A scale is typically represented by a scale bar / line with incremental numbers.

Spatial to do with geographic (not outer) space, with distribution or location across a landscape or surface.

Topographic Map a map which indicates, to scale, the natural features of the earth's surface, as well as human features. The features are shown at the correct relationship to each other. Topological Map a map designed to show only the selected feature. Locations are shown as dots with straight lines connecting them. Distance, scale, and relative orientation are not important.

UTM acronym for Universal Transverse Mercator. A map projection system for global mapping. UTM divides the world into 60 zones each of 6 degrees longitude wide extending from 80 degrees latitude South to 84 degrees latitude North.

Vector Data in Geographic Information Systems, positional data in the form of points, lines and polygons, expressed as x and y coordinates.

V&H Coordinates developed by Jay K. Donald, of AT&T, and published by Telecordia Technologies, are the Vertical & Horizontal / reprojected converted equilized 2-dimensional Latitude & Longitude coordinates of major cities / billing centers / rate centers / central offices / switch locations in North America. V&H Coordinates are determined by a formula, similar to the calculation of airline mileage between two airports (i.e. Square Root of ((V1-V2) x (V1-V2) + (H1-H2) x (H1-H2)) / 10). V&H coordinates are used for billing purposes, billing is charged based on the 'as the crow files' / 'airline distance' distance between two center's coordinates.

Wadi in a hot desert, a steep-sided, flat-floored valley very occasionally occupied by an intermittent stream.

Wetland land that is satuated periodically or permanently by water.

Wire Center is a central point where physical circuits are interconnected / the areas covered by an exchange / NXX. It is the location where local lines of an Exchange / NXX are terminated. A Wire Center will serve a unique set of phone number Exchanges / NXXs within a fixed geographic area. One to several Central Offices may serve a Wire Centre.

X Coordinate the horizontal position across the label width where a printed field begins.

Y Coordinate the vertical position across the label width where a printed field begins.

Zenith in broad terms, the zenith is the direction pointing directly above a particular location (perpendicular, orthogonal). Since the concept of being above is somewhat vague, Scientists define the zenith in more rigorous terms.

Zone area of geography banded by parallel line of latitude.

Z Value is the third dimensional value on a map / plane. Z Values represent the Elevation / Spot Height / Contour / relief data of the land. Where 'x' represents the Longitude value, 'y' represents the Latitude value, 'z' represents the Elevation / height value.

Entries by Rob Benneyworth © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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