What Is a Spatial Data Type?


Angela Bailey

A spatial data type is a data type that represents geometric objects or spatial locations in a database. It allows users to store, manipulate, and query spatial data, such as points, lines, and polygons. Spatial data types are commonly used in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other applications that deal with location-based information.

Why Use Spatial Data Types?

Spatial data types provide several benefits for managing and analyzing geographic information:

  • Accurate Representation: Spatial data types accurately represent real-world objects and their relationships. This enables precise analysis and modeling of geographic phenomena.
  • Spatial Operations: Spatial data types support powerful spatial operations such as distance calculation, intersection, containment, and buffering.

    These operations are essential for performing various spatial analyses.

  • Data Integration: By using spatial data types, you can integrate geographic information with other non-spatial attributes in your database. This allows you to perform complex queries that involve both location-based criteria and traditional attribute filtering.

Common Spatial Data Types

In most databases that support spatial data, you’ll find the following commonly used spatial data types:


A point represents a single location in space defined by its X, Y (and sometimes Z) coordinates. It can be used to store the exact position of a specific feature or an event.


A line represents a sequence of connected points. It can be used to store linear features such as roads, rivers, or boundaries.


A polygon represents a closed shape made up of connected lines. It can be used to store areas like countries, buildings, or lakes.

MultiPoint, MultiLine, and MultiPolygon

These types represent collections of points, lines, and polygons, respectively. They are used when multiple spatial objects need to be grouped together.

Example Usage

Let’s say you’re developing a real estate application. By utilizing spatial data types, you can store property locations as points with their corresponding attributes such as price, area, and number of bedrooms. This enables you to perform queries like finding the nearest properties to a given location or filtering properties within a specific area.


Spatial data types play a crucial role in managing and analyzing geographic information. By using these types in your database, you can accurately represent spatial objects, perform spatial operations, integrate location-based criteria with other attributes, and enable powerful spatial analysis. Whether you’re working with GIS applications or dealing with location-based data in other domains, understanding and utilizing spatial data types is essential for effective data management.

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