SemantGEO: Powering Ecological and Environment Data Discovery and Search with Standards-Based Geospatial Reasoning

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Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting 2013


Recent efforts to create and leverage standards for geospatial data specification and inference include the GeoSPARQL standard, Geospatial OWL ontologies (e.g., GAZ, Geonames), and RDF triple stores that support GeoSPARQL (e.g., AllegroGraph, Parliament) that use RDF instance data for geospatial features of interest. However, there remains a gap on how best to fuse software engineering best practices and GeoSPARQL within semantic web applications to enable flexible search driven by geospatial reasoning. In this abstract we introduce the SemantGeo module for the SemantEco framework that helps fill this gap, enabling scientists find data using geospatial semantics and reasoning.

SemantGeo provides multiple types of geospatial reasoning for SemantEco modules. The server side implementation uses the Parliament SPARQL Endpoint accessed via a Tomcat servlet. SemantGeo uses the Google Maps API for user-specified polygon construction and JsTree for providing containment and categorical hierarchies for search.

SemantGeo uses GeoSPARQL for spatial reasoning alone and in concert with RDFS/OWL reasoning capabilities to determine, e.g., what geofeatures are within, partially overlap with, or within a certain distance from, a given polygon. We also leverage qualitative relationships defined by the Gazetteer ontology that are composites of spatial relationships as well as administrative designations or geophysical phenomena.

We provide multiple mechanisms for exploring data, such as polygon (map-based) and named-feature (hierarchy-based) selection, that enable flexible search constraints using boolean combination of selections. JsTree-based hierarchical search facets present named features and include a “part of” hierarchy (e.g., measurement-site-01, Lake George, Adirondack Region, NY State) and type hierarchies (e.g., nodes in the hierarchy for WaterBody, Park, MeasurementSite), depending on the ‘axis of choice’ option selected. Using GeoSPARQL and aforementioned ontology, these hierarchies are constrained based on polygon selection, where the corresponding polygons of the contained features are visually rendered to assist exploration.

Once measurement sites are plotted based on initial search, subsequent searches using JsTree selections can extend the previous based on nearby waterbodies in some semantic relationship of interest. For example, ‘tributary of’ captures water bodies that flow into the current one, and extending the original search to include tributaries of the observed water body is useful to environmental scientists for isolating the source of characteristic levels, including pollutants.

Ultimately any SemantEco module can leverage SemantGeo's underlying APIs, leveraged in a deployment of SemantEco that combines EPA and USGS water quality data, and one customized for searching data available from the Darrin Freshwater Institute. Future work will address generating RDF geometry data from shape files, aligning RDF data sources to better leverage qualitative and spatial relationships, and validating newly generated RDF data adhering to the GeoSPARQL standard.


DateCreated ByLink
December 12, 2013
Patrick WestDownload

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