The application of expert systems in geographical information systems

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Geographical information systems (GIS) are excellent tools for an inventory of land-related data. GIS users must have an in-depth knowledge about the system in order to make effective user of the system to analyze these data. Making these systems more intelligent and easier to use is therefore an ongoing primary research topic. Expert systems are considered a solution to making GIS more powerful and user friendly. They can be applied to emulate reasoning processes requiring expert knowledge on a computer. This study evaluates the applicability of expert system technology to support data analysis with a GIS. The ranking of groundwater wells by their needs for protection against contamination is used as an example to demonstrate the integration of GIS and expert systems. The knowledge for a complex data analysis is contained in the expert system while the GIS provides the functions of managing and analyzing spatial data. A prototype for the above mentioned system was developed during the study. This prototype has been implemented using an expert system building tool (expert system shell) and a commercially available GIS. A groundwater supply inventory, carried out for the Province of New Brunswick, provided the basis for the development of the automated well ranking system.