Next Generation Environmental Informatics as exemplified by the Tetherless World Semantic Water Quality Portal

In late 2009 in Bristol County, RI there was a case of E. Coli contaminating the public water supply resulting in illnesses in the population, particularly young children. Residents requested information concerning when the contamination began, how it happened, and what measures were being taken to monitor and prevent future occurrences. That event reflected the increasing demand for direct and transparent access to ecological and environmental information, and inspired the Semantic Water Quality Portal (SemantAqua) project.

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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.

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