SemantEco: A semantically powered modular architecture for integrating distributed environmental and ecological data

We aim to inform the development of decision support tools for resource managers who need to examine large complex ecosystems and make recommendations in the face of many tradeoffs and conflicting drivers. We take a semantic technology approach, leveraging background ontologies and the growing body of linked open data. In previous work, we designed and implemented a semantically enabled environmental monitoring framework called SemantEco and used it to build a water quality portal named SemantAqua. Our previous system included foundational ontologies to support environmental regulation violations and relevant human health effects. In this work, we discuss SemantEco’s new architecture that supports modular extensions and makes it easier to support additional domains. Our enhanced framework includes foundational ontologies to support modeling of wildlife observation and wildlife health impacts, thereby enabling deeper and broader support for more holistically examining the effects of environmental pollution on ecosystems. We conclude with a discussion of how, through the application of semantic technologies, modular designs will make it easier for resource managers to bring in new sources of data to support more complex use cases.

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We present a semantic technology-based approach to emerging environmental information systems. We used our linked data approach in the Tetherless World Constellation Semantic Water Quality Portal (TWC-SWQP). Our integration scheme uses a core domain ontology and integrates water data from different authoritative sources along with multiple regulation ontologies to enable pollution detection and monitoring. An OWL-based reasoning scheme identifies pollution events relative to user chosen regulations. Our approach also captures and leverages provenance to improve transparency.

Generating useful RDF linked data is not a straightforward process for scientists using today's tools. In this project we introduce the SemantEco Annotator, a semantic web application that leverages community-based vocabularies and ontologies during the translation process itself to ease the process of drawing out implicit relationships in tabular data so that they may be immediately available for use within the LOD cloud. Our goal for the SemantEco Annotator is to make advanced RDF translation techniques available to the layperson.

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