Spatial Planning on the Semantic Web

Transactions in GIS, Volume 14, Number 2, April 2010

Rinke Hoekstra, Radboud Winkels, and Erik Hupkes

“Land use regulations are an important but often underrated legal domain. In densely populated regions such as the Netherlands, spatial plans have a profound impact on both (local) governments and citizens. This article describes our work on a ‘Legal Atlas’. Using Semantic Web technology we combine distributed geospatial data, textual data and controlled vocabularies to support users in answering questions such as: “What activity is allowed here?” Spatial norms are represented using OWL 2 in a way that enables intuitive visualisation of their effects: map-based legal case assessment. Users can represent a (simple) case by selecting or drawing an area on the map. Given a designation for that area, the system can assess whether this is allowed or not. The same solution also enables the comparison of two or more sets of spatial norms that govern the same region. We discuss the advantages and drawbacks of a number of alternative solutions for representing and integrating metadata of spatial plans, and the representation of normative conflicts and exceptions between norms.”

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