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Ontology‐based retrieval of geographic information

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Discovering and accessing suitable geographic information (GI) in the open and distributed environments of current Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) is a crucial task. Catalogues provide searchable repositories of information descriptions, but the mechanisms to support GI retrieval are still insufficient. Problems of semantic heterogeneity caused by the ambiguity of natural language can arise during keyword-based search in catalogues and when formulating a query to access the discovered data. In this paper, we present an approach to ontology-based GI retrieval that contributes to solving existing problems of semantic heterogeneity and hides most of the complexity of the required procedure from the requester. A query language and graphical user interface allow a requester to intuitively formulate a query using a well-known domain vocabulary. From this query, an ontology concept is derived, which is then used to search a catalogue for a data source that provides all the information required to answer the requester's query. If a suitable data source is discovered, the relevant data are accessed through a standardized interface. The approach is implemented through several components that can be used as an extension to standard SDIs.
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Keywords: GI discovery; GI retrieval; Ontologies; Spatial data infrastructures

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institut für Geoinformatik (IfGI), Westfälische Wilhelms‐Universität Münster, Robert‐Koch‐Str. 26–28, 48149 Münster, Germany

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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