Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography & Environmental Studies

Program Name/Specialization



Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Steven Roberts

Advisor Role

Provide funding to support research, recommend research methods and review dissertation

Second Advisor

Dr. Colin Robertson

Advisor Role

Provide funding to support research, recommend research methods and review dissertation


The advancements in information and communications technology, including the widespread adoption of GPS-based sensors, improvements in computational data processing, and satellite imagery, have resulted in new data sources, stakeholders, and methods of producing, using, and sharing spatial data. Daily, vast amounts of data are produced by individuals interacting with digital content and through automated and semi-automated sensors deployed across the environment. A growing portion of this information contains geographic information directly or indirectly embedded within it. The widespread use of automated smart sensors and an increased variety of georeferenced media resulted in new individual data collectors. This raises a new set of social concerns around individual geopricacy and data ownership. These changes require new approaches to managing, sharing, and processing geographic data. With the appearance of distributed data-sharing technologies, some of these challenges may be addressed. This can be achieved by moving from centralized control and ownership of the data to a more distributed system. In such a system, the individuals are responsible for gathering and controlling access and storing data. Stepping into the new area of distributed spatial data sharing needs preparations, including developing tools and algorithms to work with spatial data in this new environment efficiently. Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have become very popular for storing and sharing information in a decentralized approach. However, these networks lack the methods to process spatio-temporal queries. During the first chapter of this research, we propose a new spatio-temporal multi-level tree structure, Distributed Spatio-Temporal Tree (DSTree), which aims to address this problem. DSTree is capable of performing a range of spatio-temporal queries. We also propose a framework that uses blockchain to share a DSTree on the distributed network, and each user can replicate, query, or update it. Next, we proposed a dynamic k-anonymity algorithm to address geoprivacy concerns in distributed platforms. Individual dynamic control of geoprivacy is one of the primary purposes of the proposed framework introduced in this research. Sharing data within and between organizations can be enhanced by greater trust and transparency offered by distributed or decentralized technologies. Rather than depending on a central authority to manage geographic data, a decentralized framework would provide a fine-grained and transparent sharing capability. Users can also control the precision of shared spatial data with others. They are not limited to third-party algorithms to decide their privacy level and are also not limited to the binary levels of location sharing. As mentioned earlier, individuals and communities can benefit from distributed spatial data sharing. During the last chapter of this work, we develop an image-sharing platform, aka harvester safety application, for the Kakisa indigenous community in northern Canada. During this project, we investigate the potential of using a Distributed Spatial Data sharing (DSDS) infrastructure for small-scale data-sharing needs in indigenous communities. We explored the potential use case and challenges and proposed a DSDS architecture to allow users in small communities to share and query their data using DSDS. Looking at the current availability of distributed tools, the sustainable development of such applications needs accessible technology. We need easy-to-use tools to use distributed technologies on community-scale SDS. In conclusion, distributed technology is in its early stages and requires easy-to-use tools/methods and algorithms to handle, share and query geographic information. Once developed, it will be possible to contrast DSDS against other data systems and thereby evaluate the practical benefit of such systems. A distributed data-sharing platform needs a standard framework to share data between different entities. Just like the first decades of the appearance of the web, these tools need regulations and standards. Such can benefit individuals and small communities in the current chaotic spatial data-sharing environment controlled by the central bodies.

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