Sunday, July 23, 2006

Geospatial Ontologies in TopBraid Composer

Geospatial information such as latitude/longitude properties can serve as the foundation of many cool Semantic Web applications. It is great to see that the W3C has launched an Incubator Activity to establish a (de-facto) standard RDF vocabulary for geography. A preliminary version of this vocabulary can already be used, and tools are starting to support it.

I have always been very interested in all things related to maps. In fact - beside the library of Lonely Planet travel guides - I have two large world atlases as bedside reading. It was therefore a pleasure to implement geographical mapping support for our ontology platform TopBraid Composer this week. Here is a screenshot of TBC 1.1.3, which has been published today:

The new features allow users to specify coordinates for any resource in an ontology, and to visualize the coordinates in a dynamic (Google) map. I have created a short screencam video to demonstrate how it works:

Geography in TopBraid Composer Video

I particularly like the idea of combining geographical information with intelligent query languages such as SPARQL + Pellet. While these ideas are already being explored by several mash-up scripts and AJAX applications on the Web, I think it is invaluable to also have geographical support inside of an ontology development environment. Full-blown ontology editors can offer much greater flexibility and more rapid turn-around times for schema and instance creation.

There are many more ideas for similar new features in our minds right now, and I am looking forward to bringing ontology design closer to ontology use.


At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Michel Bohms, TNO (NL) said...

Dear Holger,

This is a very intersting development. We are typically modelling building objects like buildings or infrastructural works. On a higher scale we would model neighbourhouds, cities, regions etc. where the lower-scale objects are located. The other way round in NL we see a lot of GIS modelling (like; choose GlobeAssistent and go to NL). But they failof course to model the objects themselves (well only broker info).
Integrated semantic modelling integrating such scale levels has an enormous potential we think. So we will surely investigate you capabilities here.


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