OSS conflation

Conflation occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places, sharing some characteristics of one another, seem to be a single identity — the differences appear to become lost. In logic, it is the practice of treating two distinct concepts as if they were one, which produces errors or misunderstandings as a fusion of distinct subjects tends to obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts.”

Conflation is an interesting concept for OSS data migration / creation / cleansing teams.

According to Alan Witmer, there are five steps to the conflation process.

  • Prepare the databases for conflation processing. Analyze the incoming data’s quality and usability, and convert as necessary to a common format.
  • Build similar (congruous) representations of a select group of features from each data set.
  • Matching – identify common elements (also called correlation).
  • Improve the database by performing some action on those identified matches. This includes generating reports, merging selected attribute and spatial information from one database into the other, or perhaps creating a third database with selected elements and attributes of the original two.
  • Perform final QC suites to verify both the quality and completeness of the data transfer.

Alan has also prepared some helpful suggestions for performing these five steps in the link above.

This link from ConfleX also provides a neat description of conflation on spatial data sets.

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