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Hotspot analysis (using G*)

Problem definition

  • We have a map, in this case a map of land surface temperatures
  • We want to find hotspots, i.e., areas on map that are significantly different from their surrounding area.
  • We want to use Getis-Ord G* statistic as the tool for finding the hotspots
  • We want to parallelize the computation in our Spark cluster.

Example LST and Getis-ord

Hotspot analysis using geotrellis

In this section we show a simplified version of the hotspot analysis. We use the Geotrellis library to achieve the parallelization. Some assumptions are:

  • we use 2-dimenational data (only the spatial part without the time component)
  • we store our data as a layer of tiles in geotrellis catalog (distributed raster)
  • our hotspot analysis uses the standard G* with variable window

First, we need to express the G* formula in terms of the map algebra operations.

Scala code

Full source code can be found in our github repository: biggis-project/biggis-landuse

// typical type definition used by geotrellis
type SpatialRDD = RDD[(SpatialKey, Tile)]
                  with Metadata[TileLayerMetadata[SpatialKey]]

def getisord(rdd: SpatialRDD, weightMatrix: Kernel,
             globMean:Double, globStdev:Double, numPixels:Long): SpatialRDD = {

  val wcells: Array[Double] = weightMatrix.tile.toArrayDouble
  val sumW: Double = wcells.sum
  val sumW2: Double = => x * x).sum

  // variables used in the getis-ord formula
  val A: Double = globalMean * sumW
  val B: Double = globalStdev * Math.sqrt((numPixels * sumW2 - sumW * sumW) / (numPixels - 1))

  rdd.withContext {
      .mapValues { tileWithCtx =>
          .focalSum(weightMatrix, Some(tileWithCtx.targetArea)) // focal op.
          .mapDouble { x => (x - A) / B } // local op.

Let's assume, we already have the following variables:

  • layerReader: helper class to query tiles from geotrellis catalog/layer,
  • layerId: ID of the raster layer used as input raster,
  • kernelRadius: size of the weight matrix (how many pixels)
// RDD (distributed dataset from Apache Spark) representing all tiles in the layer 
val queryResult: SpatialRDD =[SpatialKey, Tile, TileLayerMetadata[SpatialKey]](layerId)

// here, we use a circular kernel as a weight matrix
val weightMatrix =,

// use precomputed histogram metadata (stored in zoom level 0 inside the layer)
val stats = queryResult.histogram.statistics

val Statistics(_, globMean, _, _, globStdev, _, _) = stats.get
val numPixels = queryResult.histogram.totalCount

// apply the parallelized getis ord
val outRdd = getisord(queryResult, weightMatrix, globMean, globStdev, numPixels)

The result outRdd is an RDD (distributed dataset from Apache Spark) that can be further processed or stored as a new layer in geotrellis catalog.