Earth-science researchers need the capability to find relevant information by location and topic. Conventional geographic techniques that simply check whether polygons intersect can efficiently achieve a high recall on location, but can not achieve precision for ranking results in likely order of importance to the reader. A spatial overlay ranking based upon how well an object's footprint matches the search area provides a more effective way to spatially search a collection of reports, and avoids many of the problems associated with an 'in/out' (True/False) boolean search. Moreover, spatial overlay ranking appears to work well even when spatial extent is defined only by a simple bounding box.
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USGS Numbered Series
A Spatial Overlay Ranking Method for a Geospatial Search of Text Objects