Web data retrieval: Solving spatial range queries using k-nearest neighbor searches

Wan D. Bae, Shayma Alkobaisi, Seon Ho Kim, Sada Narayanappa, Cyrus Shahabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


As Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies have evolved, more and more GIS applications and geospatial data are available on the web. Spatial objects in a given query range can be retrieved using spatial range query - one of the most widely used query types in GIS and spatial databases. However, it can be challenging to retrieve these data from various web applications where access to the data is only possible through restrictive web interfaces that support certain types of queries. A typical scenario is the existence of numerous business web sites that provide their branch locations through a limited "nearest location" web interface. For example, a chain restaurant's web site such as McDonalds can be queried to find some of the closest locations of its branches to the user's home address. However, even though the site has the location data of all restaurants in, for example, the state of California, it is difficult to retrieve the entire data set efficiently due to its restrictive web interface. Considering that k-Nearest Neighbor (k-NN) search is one of the most popular web interfaces in accessing spatial data on the web, this paper investigates the problem of retrieving geospatial data from the web for a given spatial range query using only k-NN searches. Based on the classification of k-NN interfaces on the web, we propose a set of range query algorithms to completely cover the rectangular shape of the query range (completeness) while minimizing the number of k-NN searches as possible (efficiency). We evaluated the efficiency of the proposed algorithms through statistical analysis and empirical experiments using both synthetic and real data sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-514
Number of pages32
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • GIS
  • K-Nearest neighbor queries
  • Range queries
  • Web data
  • Web integration
  • Web interfaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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