A UML-based Representation of Spatio-Temporal Evolution in Road Network Data

John Ware, Duncan McPhee, Alex Lohfink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geographic features change over time, this change being the result of some kind of event. Most database systems used in GIS are relational in nature, capturing change by exhaustively storing all versions of data, or updates replace previous versions. This stems from the inherent difficulty of modelling geographic objects and associated data in relational tables, and this is compounded when the necessary time dimension is introduced to represent how these objects evolve. This article describes an object-oriented (OO) spatio-temporal conceptual data model called the Feature Evolution Model (FEM), which can be used for the development of a spatio-temporal database management system (STDBMS). Object versioning techniques developed in the fields of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and engineering design are utilized in the design. The model is defined using the Unified Modelling Language (UML), and exploits the expressiveness of OO technology by representing both geographic entities and events as objects. Further, the model overcomes the limitations inherent in relational approaches in representing aggregation of objects to form more complex, compound objects. A management object called the evolved feature maintains a temporally ordered list of references to features thus representing their evolution. The model is demonstrated by its application to road network data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853 - 872
Number of pages19
JournalTransactions in GIS
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2010


  • gis
  • spatial database
  • temporal database


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