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Linking geographic data for research

The EDINA National Datacentre in Edinburgh serves to “seeks to enhance the productivity, quality and cost-effectiveness of research and education in the UK and beyond”. Its flagship service for research and learning is Digimap, which provides access to Ordnance Survey data for universities, colleges, and last year adding services for schools. More interesting, perhaps, is the bubble of smaller services and projects in the geographic information space. Recently JISC, “the UK’s expert on information and digital technologies for education and research”, has been supporting many of its services and projects to extend with Linked Data. This talk covered some of the results and implications for spatial scholarship.

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INSPIRE and the work of UK location

The UK Location programme is a UK pan-government initiative to improve the sharing and re-use of public sector location information. Established following the publication of the UK Location Strategy, it incorporates the implementation of the strategy and the EC INSPIRE Directive. Key to delivering both INSPIRE and the broader strategy is the use of interoperable data and service standards. This forms the basis of providing a spatial data infrastructure that works in the wider context of internet technologies and critically with other information domains. To do this UK Location encourages and in some cases enforces data standards but also works to enable use of location data more widely through broader standards such as linked data.

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The landscape and challenges of geospatial information in 2012

The map paradigm influences where we are today in organizing location information. The introductory presentation set the scene, covering:

  • a baseline knowledge about how geography and cartography have moved over into GIS and geospatial technology;
  • a sketch of the current landscape regarding the use of geospatial data in the UK and Europe;
  • an introduction to some of the challenges at present that are caused, not by the ‘geospatial’ aspect or computing per se, as much as by poor conceptual models, classification and data quality;
  • the opportunities afforded by Linked Data and the Big Data challenge.
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Government Linked Data: A Tipping Point for the Semantic Web

Governments around the world collect information. This information is often non-personal public sector information. It relates to transport and education, health and the environment, business and leisure. Publishing and releasing this information in a machine readable way could lead to huge economic and social improvements. It would also make the process of Government more transparent and give rise to new classes of information business. This talk outlined developments in the UK and US which are showing the potential of building a Web of Open Linked Data using Semantic Web Standards. It discussed the technical as well as social and cultural challenges. It gave examples of the applications that can result and considered the impact this could have across a number of dimensions.

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Linking to Geographic Data

Most data references some kind of location whether it be a place name, address, postcode or some kind of coordinate. It is clear that location provides an important data integration hub on the linked data web. This talk discussed the challenges around constructing linked data for geographic and spatial information with particular emphasis given to the work done at Ordnance Survey. Examples of other geo-spatial linked data in the wild were given along with examples of applications built using them. Some discussion occurred on some of the services being built to get the most from geo-spatial linked data and the challenges we will face in the future.

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PoolParty: SKOS Thesaurus Management utilizing Linked Data

Building and maintaining thesauri are complex and laborious tasks. PoolParty is a Thesaurus Management Tool (TMT) for the Semantic Web, which aims to support the creation and maintenance of thesauri by utilizing Linked Open Data (LOD), text-analysis and easy-to-use GUIs, so thesauri can be managed and utilized by domain experts without needing knowledge about the semantic web. Some aspects of thesaurus management, like the editing of labels, can be done via a wiki-style interface, allowing for lowest possible access barriers to contribution. PoolParty can analyse documents in order to glean new concepts for a thesaurus. Additionally a thesaurus can be enriched by retrieving relevant information from Linked Data sources and thesauri can be imported and updated via LOD URIs from external systems and also can be published as new linked data sources on the semantic web.

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Sharing expertise in support of Networked Knowledge Organization Systems

“Small is beautiful” said Ernst Schumacher in 1973. Despite the subsequent trends towards globalization, his note still strikes a chord, echoing strongly at the 13th NKOS Workshop held in London on 11-12 September. Addressing only 20 participants, each of the 9 speakers got the space and audience support to expose real issues arising from their current R & D projects, including practical obstacles such as the weaknesses of tools for handling KOS management and exploitation.

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