To Ontologise or Not to Ontologise: An Information Model for a Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure

Computers & GeosciencesComputers & Geosciences, Volume 45, August 2012, Pages 98–108

Kristin Stock, Tim Stojanovic, Femke Reitsma, Yang Ou, Mohamed Bishr, Jens Ortmann, and Anne Robertson

“A geospatial knowledge infrastructure consists of a set of interoperable components, including software, information, hardware, procedures and standards, that work together to support advanced discovery and creation of geoscientific resources, including publications, data sets and web services. The focus of the work presented is the development of such an infrastructure for resource discovery. Advanced resource discovery is intended to support scientists in finding resources that meet their needs, and focuses on representing the semantic details of the scientific resources, including the detailed aspects of the science that led to the resource being created.

“This paper describes an information model for a geospatial knowledge infrastructure that uses ontologies to represent these semantic details, including knowledge about domain concepts, the scientific elements of the resource (analysis methods, theories and scientific processes) and web services. This semantic information can be used to enable more intelligent search over scientific resources, and to support new ways to infer and visualise scientific knowledge.

The COMPASS user interface.

The COMPASS user interface.

“The work describes the requirements for semantic support of a knowledge infrastructure, and analyses the different options for information storage based on the twin goals of semantic richness and syntactic interoperability to allow communication between different infrastructures. Such interoperability is achieved by the use of open standards, and the architecture of the knowledge infrastructure adopts such standards, particularly from the geospatial community. The paper then describes an information model that uses a range of different types of ontologies, explaining those ontologies and their content. The information model was successfully implemented in a working geospatial knowledge infrastructure, but the evaluation identified some issues in creating the ontologies.”