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GeoSpark: Bring sf to spark

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Introduction & Philosophy

Goal: make traditional GISer handle geospatial big data easier.

The origin idea comes from Uber, which proposed a ESRI Hive UDF + Presto solution to solve large-scale geospatial data processing problem with spatial index in production.

However, The Uber solution is not open source yet and Presto is not popular than Spark.

In that, geospark R package aims at bringing local sf functions to distributed spark mode with GeoSpark scala package.

Currently, geospark support the most of important sf functions in spark, here is a summary comparison. And the geospark R package is keeping close with geospatial and big data community, which powered by sparklyr, sf, dplyr and dbplyr.


This package requires Apache Spark 2.X which you can install using sparklyr::install_spark("2.3"), and spark2.4 is not supported yet; in addition, you can install geospark as follows:


Getting Started

In this example we will join spatial data using quadrad tree indexing. First, we will initialize the geospark extension and connect to Spark using sparklyr:


sc <- spark_connect(master = "local")

Next we will load some spatial dataset containing as polygons and points.

polygons <- read.table(system.file(package="geospark","examples/polygons.txt"), sep="|", col.names=c("area","geom"))
points <- read.table(system.file(package="geospark","examples/points.txt"), sep="|", col.names=c("city","state","geom"))

polygons_wkt <- copy_to(sc, polygons)
points_wkt <- copy_to(sc, points)

And we can quickly visulize the dataset by mapview and sf.

M1 = polygons %>%
sf::st_as_sf(wkt="geom") %>% mapview::mapview()

M2 = points %>%
sf::st_as_sf(wkt="geom") %>% mapview::mapview()


The SQL Mode

Now we can perform a GeoSpatial join using the st_contains which converts wkt into geometry object. To get the original data from wkt format, we will use the st_geomfromwkt functions. We can execute this spatial query using DBI:

DBI::dbGetQuery(sc, "
  SELECT area, state, count(*) cnt FROM
    (SELECT area, ST_GeomFromWKT(polygons.geom) as y FROM polygons) polygons
    (SELECT ST_GeomFromWKT (points.geom) as x, state, city FROM points) points
  WHERE ST_Contains(polygons.y,points.x) GROUP BY area, state")
             area state cnt
1      texas area    TX  10
2     dakota area    SD   1
3     dakota area    ND  10
4 california area    CA  10
5   new york area    NY   9

The Tidyverse Mode

You can also perform this query using dplyr as follows:

polygons_wkt <- mutate(polygons_wkt, y = st_geomfromwkt(geom))
points_wkt <- mutate(points_wkt, x = st_geomfromwkt(geom))

sc_res <- inner_join(polygons_wkt,
                     sql_on = sql("st_contains(y,x)")) %>% 
  group_by(area, state) %>%
  summarise(cnt = n()) 
sc_res %>%
# Source: spark<?> [?? x 3]
# Groups: area
  area            state   cnt
  <chr>           <chr> <dbl>
1 texas area      TX       10
2 dakota area     SD        1
3 dakota area     ND       10
4 california area CA       10
5 new york area   NY        9

The final result can be present by leaflet.

Idx_df = collect(sc_res) %>% 
right_join(polygons,by = (c("area"="area"))) %>% 

Idx_df %>% 
leaflet::leaflet() %>% 
leaflet::addTiles() %>% 
leaflet::addPolygons(popup = ~as.character(cnt),color=~colormap::colormap_pal()(cnt)) 

Finally, we can disconnect:




To improve performance, it is recommended to use the KryoSerializer and the GeoSparkKryoRegistrator before connecting as follows:

conf <- spark_config()
conf$spark.serializer <- "org.apache.spark.serializer.KryoSerializer"
conf$spark.kryo.registrator <- "org.datasyslab.geospark.serde.GeoSparkKryoRegistrator"


This performance comparison is an extract from the original GeoSpark: A Cluster Computing Framework for Processing Spatial Data paper:

No. test case the number of records
1 SELECT IDCODE FROM zhenlongxiang WHERE ST_Disjoint(geom,ST_GeomFromText(‘POLYGON((517000 1520000,619000 1520000,619000 2530000,517000 2530000,517000 1520000))’)); 85,236 rows
2 SELECT fid FROM cyclonepoint WHERE ST_Disjoint(geom,ST_GeomFromText(‘POLYGON((90 3,170 3,170 55,90 55,90 3))’,4326)) 60,591 rows

Query performance(ms),

No. PostGIS/PostgreSQL GeoSpark SQL ESRI Spatial Framework for Hadoop
1 9631 480 40,784
2 110872 394 64,217

According to this paper, the Geospark SQL definitely outperforms PG and ESRI UDF under a very large data set.

If you are wondering how the spatial index accelerate the query process, here is a good Uber example: Unwinding Uber’s Most Efficient Service and the Chinese translation version



name desc
ST_GeomFromWKT Construct a Geometry from Wkt.
ST_GeomFromWKB Construct a Geometry from Wkb.
ST_GeomFromGeoJSON Construct a Geometry from GeoJSON.
ST_Point Construct a Point from X and Y.
ST_PointFromText Construct a Point from Text, delimited by Delimiter.
ST_PolygonFromText Construct a Polygon from Text, delimited by Delimiter.
ST_LineStringFromText Construct a LineString from Text, delimited by Delimiter.
ST_PolygonFromEnvelope Construct a Polygon from MinX, MinY, MaxX, MaxY.

Geometry Measurement

name desc
ST_Length Return the perimeter of A
ST_Area Return the area of A
ST_Distance Return the Euclidean distance between A and B

Spatial Join

name desc

Distance join


Spark GIS SQL mode example:

FROM pointdf1, pointdf2
WHERE ST_Distance(pointdf1.pointshape1,pointdf2.pointshape2) <= 2

Tidyverse style example:

st_join(x = pointdf1,
           y = pointdf2,
           join = sql("ST_Distance(pointshape1, pointshape2) <= 2"))


name desc
ST_Envelope_Aggr Return the entire envelope boundary of all geometries in A
ST_Union_Aggr Return the polygon union of all polygons in A

More Advacned Functions

name desc
ST_ConvexHull Return the Convex Hull of polgyon A
ST_Envelope Return the envelop boundary of A
ST_Centroid Return the centroid point of A
ST_Transform Transform the Spatial Reference System / Coordinate Reference System of A, from SourceCRS to TargetCRS
ST_IsValid Test if a geometry is well formed
ST_PrecisionReduce Reduce the decimals places in the coordinates of the geometry to the given number of decimal places. The last decimal place will be rounded.
ST_IsSimple Test if geometry's only self-intersections are at boundary points.
ST_Buffer Returns a geometry/geography that represents all points whose distance from this Geometry/geography is less than or equal to distance.
ST_AsText Return the Well-Known Text string representation of a geometry


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