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Using Geospatial Data in Snowflake

Amanda Schrack
June 10, 20204 min
Utilize geospatial data in Snowflake to unlock its power and what it can do for your organization today.

Innovative, modern technology is what Snowflake is all about. This cloud data warehouse is one of the most flexible and fastest ways to manage your data in the cloud. So, it’s no surprise that Snowflake has taken cloud computing to the next level by incorporating geospatial support into their system. This allows users to store and use geospatial data directly within Snowflake’s cloud data platform.

Why did they do this? 

Well, quite frankly, it’s what people want. More and more Snowflake users are recognizing the power of geospatial data and are working to integrate geospatial datasets with regular business datasets to make informed decisions. 

Between FME and Snowflake, data integration challenges are one step closer (actually, more like five steps closer) to being solved. No more workarounds, no more random code snippets being added to your script — just straightforward integration.

 

What is Geospatial Data?

Let’s clear this up before going further. Geospatial data (also known as “spatial data”) is data that’s representative of a specific, geographic location on the Earth’s surface. Or, more simply, data with a location attribute attached to each data entry. Things like an address, a road network, or the outline of a city’s boundary are all considered geospatial data. 

Why should you care? Geospatial data can help you make better decisions by leveraging the power of spatial relationships. Things like deciding where a new school is needed based on census data or determining which neighbourhoods your retail business would thrive in based on your target market.


The above image shows where cruise ships and airplanes are travelling in real time on a map.

 

What This Means for Snowflake Users

Snowflake users can connect their spatial data to the cloud using the GEOGRAPHY data type. The supported spatial formats in Snowflake include:

  • Well-Known Text(“WKT”)
  • Well-Known Binary(“WKB”)
  • IETF GeoJSON

Once your data is in Snowflake, you can perform over thirty geospatial functions on your data. This includes relationship and measurement functions like ST_DISTANCE and ST_INTERSECTS, as well as constructor functions like ST_MAKEPOINT and ST_MAKELINE. 

Here are some ways geospatial data and Snowflake can now help their users:

  • Analyze property risk based on weather patterns or flood zones to determine where is best to invest in property or determine insurance premiums 
  • Choose the best location for a new shop or restaurant based on market research and statistics about buyer demographics and behaviours
  • Detect if fraudulent activity has taken place between ATMs or banks by analyzing withdrawal locations and the time it would take to travel between locations.

 

Where Does FME Fit Into This?

Snowflake’s GEOGRAPHY addition is one thing, but Snowflake + FME is a whole other story. As a Snowflake technology partner that provides flexible data integration and ETL options, FME is a part of the larger Snowflake ecosystem

With FME, you can integrate spatial data from various sources without having to code. That’s right. No coding. Create custom workflows in an intuitive GUI that reads data from over 500 spatial data sources, like shapefiles, PostGIS datasets, and even point clouds, transform them, and then convert them into a Snowflake compatible format that can be added to your data warehouse. With support for thousands of coordinate systems, it’s easier for you to make the most accurate transformations you need.

FME expands your spatial data reach exponentially. With a greater ability to connect and transform your data, you’ll be able to solve data challenges more effectively and efficiently.


 

Ready to Start?

Spatial support for Snowflake is available in FME 2020.1 and up. Try FME for free or download the latest version of FME to try FME yourself.

To learn more about Snowflake and FME, check out Connecting Data (Even Geospatial!) To Snowflake.

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