An [attribute] is a characteristic of a specific set of spatial data or a spatial feature, and is often referred to collectively as attribute data.  It could also be termed that attribute data is descriptive information about features or elements of a database. For database features, like a census tract, attributes might include many demographic facts including total population, average income, and age. In statistical vernacular, an attribute is a "variable," whereas the database feature represents an "observation" of the variable.
In GIS, attribute data is used to give relevant information about a particular location. In the case of a street address, the attribute data could tell us how many people live there, the real estate value, the type of neighborhood where the address located, etc. Data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau every ten years is an example of attribute data attached to locations. In other words, they can tell us the specifics of why our spatial data are so important. Attribute data are important because without them, the spatial data are nothing more than just a random location.
Attribute data are very important in many of the tasks that are performed by GIS users, and in ArcGIS, the attribute data are stored in the attribute table which is connected to the spatial data file. The user can view that data in the table and perform various spatial tasks on the data using the software. Within ArcGIS, one such operation is the [Select by Attribute] query, which allows the user to group selected spatial data together, according to the associated attributes, to then be used in further data analysis. Another related idea is that of [relational databases], which are linked together through identical attribute fields in table that correspond to separate sets of spatial data.
- Chang, K. (2008) 'Introduction to Geographic Information Systems'
|Authors||Wesley Hodges, Dantley|
|Tags||GIS, data, description|