A review of location encoding for GeoAI published on IJGIS

Gengchen Mai, Krzysztof Janowicz, Yingjie Hu, Song Gao, Bo Yan, Rui Zhu, Ling Cai & Ni Lao (2022): A review of location encoding for GeoAI: methods and applications. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2021.2004602

Abstract: A common need for artificial intelligence models in the broader geoscience is to encode various types of spatial data, such as points, polylines, polygons, graphs, or rasters, in a hidden embedding space so that they can be readily incorporated into deep learning models. One fundamental step is to encode a single point location into an embedding space, such that this embedding is learning-friendly for downstream machine learning models. We call this process location encoding. However, there lacks a systematic review on location encoding, its potential applications, and key challenges that need to be addressed. This paper aims to fill this gap. We first provide a formal definition of location encoding, and discuss the necessity of it for GeoAI research. Next, we provide a comprehensive survey about the current landscape of location encoding research. We classify location encoding models into different categories based on their inputs and encoding methods, and compare them based on whether they are parametric, multi-scale, distance preserving, and direction aware. We demonstrate that existing location encoders can be unified under one formulation framework. We also discuss the application of location encoding. Finally, we point out several challenges that need to be solved in the future.