I am using the ESRI spatial framework for Hadoop, that extends Hive to use spatial types and operations.

My objective is to translate a set of simple queries on PostGIS into Hadoop, in order to reach horizontal scalability.

I have a grid with a count for each cell.

enter image description here

The objective of my query is to select all cells that have a count higher than a certain threshold, and group(merge) all cells that are together. For instance in this case, I would end up with something like this: 4 polygons.

enter image description here

To do this in PostGIS, I use a combination of ST_Dump and ST_SnapToGrid

FROM  (SELECT ST_Union(ST_SnapToGrid(geom,0.0001)) 
 FROM grid where ptcnt > 'threshold) as q;

Unfortunately, none of these functions is available on ESRI's spatial framework.

I can perform the threshold filter, but I have no way of aggregating the nearby geometries based on the proximity (a trick perform by the grid):

create table exploded as select u as geom from (select geom as u from grid_cnt where ptcnt > 11467) as q; 

enter image description here

Does anybody can think of a workaround (perhaps using Union)?

  • 1
    Interesting question and thanks for the pointer. I work with pretty large datasets in Postgres, and have been wondering how to parallelize some of my queries. I have played with Hadoop a bit, but not Hive, and didn't know about this ESRI Hadoop stuff at all. As to your question, it is a shame there is no ST_Expand, but you might be able to use Buffer in conjuntion with Union as a proxy? Obviously, this is less precise than Snap_To_Grid, but if there is nothing in the neighbouring cell, nothing will get unioned. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 13:39
  • Hi John, thanks a lot for the comment. I already though about replacing the ST_SnapToGrid with St_Buffer, but I would still need the ST_Dump to collect the results of the grouping...
    – doublebyte
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 14:29
  • 1
    You can't use ST_Union in conjunction with WHERE ST_Intersects, ie, only union those that intersect, to avoid having to dump again. To be honest, I am not sure from this if Hive would even support this kind of query. Maybe I should shut up and leave it to the experts. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 14:34
  • Do you go to any meetup groups in Barcelona? I am always happy to meet people interested in spatial and big data. Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 12:34
  • Yes, I sometimes go to "urban beers", that also covers geospatial topics and "Barcelona Free Software". What about you?
    – doublebyte
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 8:43

2 Answers 2


The ST_Bin and ST_BinEnvelope functions (added in 2014) may help in place of ST_SnapToGrid. There is an example in step 4 of this tutorial.

The ST_Aggr_Union function may also be useful. There is an example in the blog post announcing the aggregate functions.

(Disclosure: I am a collaborator on the GIS Tools for Hadoop at Esri.)

  • Thanks for your answer: it gave me indeed some good pointers. I think the St_Aggr_Union could be a good solution for my problem, but unfortunately I cannot get it to work. I wrote a post here gis.stackexchange.com/questions/131141/… . Can you help?
    – doublebyte
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 12:04
  • We are looking at that that one and will comment on it. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 16:50
  • As also mentioned under the other question, the ST_Aggr_Union example from the blog post, works for us on Hive 0.14, 0.13, and 0.12 with Hadoop 2.2 . Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 18:04
  • Based on your comment I assume you haven't tried with latest release of Hadoop (2.6.)...
    – doublebyte
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 12:51
  • Correct, we do not yet have Hadoop-2.6 with which to test. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:24

Input: a grid named ("polygon_grid"), with the names of the "id" and "count" fields shown in the figure below.

enter image description here

Output: merged cells by a certain value.

Execute the query:

tbla AS (SELECT id, (ST_Dump(geom)).geom FROM polygon_grid WHERE count<=185 OR count>=963 GROUP BY id)
SELECT (ST_Dump(geom)).geom FROM (SELECT ST_Union(geom) geom FROM tbla) foo;

See the figure below for the result.

enter image description here

I played with the data in EPSG 4326.

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