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W-04: Introduction to PostGIS

PostGIS is an open source spatial extension to the PostgreSQL open source enterprise relational database. Spatial databases such as PostGIS, Oracle Spatial and DB Spatial are used for high-performance multi-user access to large seamless data sets. If you are managing large volumes of read/write spatial data, using a spatial database can improve access speed, ease management overhead and guarantee data integrity.

Built as an object extension to PostgreSQL, PostGIS has been certified as "Simple Features for SQL" compliant by the Open Geospatial Consortium. PostGIS was first released in 2001, and is now used around the world as a high-performance server for spatial objects. It features a spatially-enabled query planner, highly concurrent R-Tree spatial index, and hundreds of spatial analysis and processing functions that allow for GIS-style data analysis right inside the database.

This workshop teaches the basics of using PostGIS for beginners. Attendees will learn how to:

  • install PostGIS and the software it depends on;
  • load data into PostGIS;
  • tune PostGIS for higher performance;
  • use spatial indexes for speedy searching;
  • use spatial functions for GIS-style queries;
  • use spatial operators for GIS-style geo-processing; and,
  • connect to PostGIS with other software for data editing, mapping, and analysis.

The workshop starts with a history of PostgreSQL and PostGIS, and then moves quickly to hands-on exercises in setting up and using PostGIS. Attendees receive a full workbook, sample data, and software CDROM, so they can review the material later at their own pace.

User Level

Beginner User


Paul Ramsey is the President and founder of Refractions Research, a spatial database and geomatics consultancy. Refractions' staff of 30 provide consulting on spatial database design, spatial data infrastructures and enterprise GIS systems. Refractions is heavily involved in the open source geomatics community, making contributions and providing commercial support for PostGIS, Mapserver, GeoTools, GeoServer and uDig.

Paul has been working with spatial data, open spatial standards and open source tools for the past 8 years, and has kept Refractions focussed on open source tools and technologies. As a frequent conference presenter and writer on geospatial topics, Paul maintains a high profile in the professional geospatial community.