Tag Archives: PyQGIS

In the fist two parts of the Movement Data in GIS series, I discussed modeling trajectories as LinestringM features in PostGIS to overcome some common issues of movement data in GIS and presented a way to efficiently render speed changes along a trajectory in QGIS without having to split the trajectory into shorter segments.

While visualizing individual trajectories is important, the real challenge is trying to visualize massive trajectory datasets in a way that enables further analysis. The out-of-the-box functionality of GIS is painfully limited. Except for some transparency and heatmap approaches, there is not much that can be done to help interpret “hairballs” of trajectories. Luckily researchers in visual analytics have already put considerable effort into finding solutions for this visualization challenge. The approach I want to talk about today is by Andrienko, N., & Andrienko, G. (2011). Spatial generalization and aggregation of massive movement data. IEEE Transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 17(2), 205-219. and consists of the following main steps:

  1. Extracting characteristic points from the trajectories
  2. Grouping the extracted points by spatial proximity
  3. Computing group centroids and corresponding Voronoi cells
  4. Deviding trajectories into segments according to the Voronoi cells
  5. Counting transitions from one cell to another

The authors do a great job at describing the concepts and algorithms, which made it relatively straightforward to implement them in QGIS Processing. So far, I’ve implemented the basic logic but the paper contains further suggestions for improvements. This was also my first pyQGIS project that makes use of the measurement value support in the new geometry engine. The time information stored in the m-values is used to detect stop points, which – together with start, end, and turning points – make up the characteristic points of a trajectory.

The following animation illustrates the current state of the implementation: First the “hairball” of trajectories is rendered. Then we extract the characteristic points and group them by proximity. The big black dots are the resulting group centroids. From there, I skipped the Voronoi cells and directly counted transitions from “nearest to centroid A” to “nearest to centroid B”.

(data credits: GeoLife project)

From thousands of individual trajectories to a generalized representation of overall movement patterns (data credits: GeoLife project, map tiles: Stamen, map data: OSM)

The resulting visualization makes it possible to analyze flow strength as well as directionality. I have deliberately excluded all connections with a count below 10 transitions to reduce visual clutter. The cell size / distance between point groups – and therefore the level-of-detail – is one of the input parameters. In my example, I used a target cell size of approximately 2km. This setting results in connections which follow the major roads outside the city center very well. In the city center, where the road grid is tighter, trajectories on different roads mix and the connections are less clear.

Since trajectories in this dataset are not limited to car trips, it is expected to find additional movement that is not restricted to the road network. This is particularly noticeable in the dense area in the west where many slow trajectories – most likely from walking trips – are located. The paper also covers how to ensure that connections are limited to neighboring cells by densifying the trajectories before computing step 4.


Running the scripts for over 18,000 trajectories requires patience. It would be worth evaluating if the first three steps can be run with only a subsample of the data without impacting the results in a negative way.

One thing I’m not satisfied with yet is the way to specify the target cell size. While it’s possible to measure ellipsoidal distances in meters using QgsDistanceArea (irrespective of the trajectory layer’s CRS), the initial regular grid used in step 2 in order to group the extracted points has to be specified in the trajectory layer’s CRS units – quite likely degrees. Instead, it may be best to transform everything into an equidistant projection before running any calculations.

It’s good to see that PyQGIS enables us to use the information encoded in PostGIS LinestringM features to perform spatio-temporal analysis. However, working with m or z values involves a lot of v2 geometry classes which work slightly differently than their v1 counterparts. It certainly takes some getting used to. This situation might get cleaned up as part of the QGIS 3 API refactoring effort. If you can, please support work on QGIS 3. Now is the time to shape the PyQGIS API for the following years!

This is a follow-up on my previous post introducing an Open source IDF parser for QGIS. Today’s post takes the code further and adds routing functionality for foot, bike, and car routes including oneway streets and turn restrictions.

You can find the script in my QGIS-resources repository on Github. It creates an IDFRouter object based on an IDF file which you can use to compute routes.

The following screenshot shows an example car route in Vienna which gets quite complex due to driving restrictions. The dark blue line is computed by my script on GIP data while the light blue line is the route from (via the OSM route plugin) on OSM data. Minor route geometry differences are due to slight differences in the network link geometries.

Screenshot 2015-08-01 16.29.57

IDF is the data format used by Austrian authorities to publish the official open government street graph. It’s basically a text file describing network nodes, links, and permissions for different modes of transport.

Since, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been any open source IDF parser available so far, I’ve started to write my own using PyQGIS. You can find the script which is meant to be run in the QGIS Python console in my Github QGIS-resources repo.

I haven’t implemented all details yet but it successfully parses nodes and links from the two example IDF files that have been published so far as can be seen in the following screenshot which shows the Klagenfurt example data:

Screenshot 2015-07-23 16.23.25

If you are interested in advancing this project, just get in touch here or on Github.

You probably remember my Game of Life posts from last year: Experiments with Conway’s Game of Life & More experiments with Game of Life where I developed a vector-based version of GoL.

Richard Wen and Claus Rinner at Ryerson University now published a raster-based version.

Here’s a screenshot of the script in action:

Screenshot 2015-03-08 20.04.07

The code is hosted on Github and I’m sure there will be many other ideas which can build on code snippets to read and write raster cell values.

For more info, please visit the GIS at Ryerson blog.

As promised in my recent post “Experiments with Conway’s Game of Life”, I have been been looking into how to improve my first implementation. The new version which you can now find on Github is fully contained in one Python script which runs in the QGIS console. Additionally, the repository contains a CSV with the grid definition for a Gosper glider gun and the layer style QML.

Rather than creating a new Shapefile for each iteration like in the first implementation, this script uses memory layers to save the game status.

You can see it all in action in the following video:

(video available in HD)

Thanks a lot to Nathan Woodrow for the support in getting the animation running!

Sometimes there are still hick-ups causing steps to be skipped but overall it is running nicely now. Another approach would be to change the layer attributes rather than creating more and more layers but I like to be able to go through all the resulting layers after they have been computed.

This experiment is motivated by a discussion I had with Dr. Claus Rinner about introducing students to GIS concepts using Conway’s Game of Life. Conway’s Game of Life is a popular example to demonstrate cellular automata. Based on an input grid of “alive” and “dead” cells, new cell values are computed on each iteration based on four simple rules for the cell and its 8 neighbors:

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

(Source: Wikipedia – Conway’s Game of Life)

Based on these simple rules, effects like the following “glider gun” can be achieved:

Gospers glider gun.gif
Gospers glider gun” by KieffOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

There are some Game of Life implementations for GIS out there, e.g. scripts for ArcGIS or a module for SAGA. Both of these examples are raster-based. Since I couldn’t find any examples of raster manipulation like this in pyQGIS, I decided to instead implement a vector version: a Processing script which receives an input grid of cells and outputs the next iteration based on the rules of Game of Life. In the following screencast, you can see the Processing script being called repeatedly by a script from the Python console:

So far, it’s a quick and dirty first implementation. To make it more smooth, I’m considering adding spatial indexing and using memory layers instead of having Processing create a bunch of Shapefiles.

It would also be interesting to see a raster version done in PyQGIS. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas how this could be achieved.

Did you know that there is a network analysis library in QGIS core? It’s well hidden so far, but at least it’s documented in the PyQGIS Cookbook. The code samples from the cookbook can be used in the QGIS Python console and you can play around to get a grip of what the different steps are doing.

As a first exercise, I’ve decided to write a Processing script which will use the network analysis library to create a network-based route layer from a point layer input. You can find the result on Github.

You can get a Spatialite file with testdata from Github as well. It contains a network and a routepoints1 layer:


The interface of the points_to_route tool is very simple. All it needs as an input is information about which layer should be used as a network and which layer contains the route points:


The input points are considered to be ordered. The tool always routes between consecutive points.

The result is a line layer with one line feature for each point pair:


The network analysis library is a really great new feature and I hope we will see a lot of tools built on top of it.

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