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This chapter reviews the approaches for organizing and maintaining data in a GIS. The focus is on reviewing different techniques for storing spatial data. A brief review of data querying approaches for attribute data is also provided.

Organizing Data for Analysis
Editing and Updating of Data

The second necessary component for a GIS is the data storage and retrieval subsystem. This subsystem organizes the data, both spatial and attribute, in a form which permits it to be quickly retrieved for updating, querying, and analysis. Most GIS software utilizes proprietary software for their spatial editing and retrieval system, and a database management system (DBMS) for their attribute storage. Typically, an internal data model is used to store primary attribute data associated with the topological definition of the spatial data. Most often these internal database tables contain primary columns such as area, perimeter, length, and internal feature id number. Often thematic attribute data is maintained in an external DBMS that is linked to the spatial data via the internal database table.