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Ontology of core concept data types for answering geo-analytical questions

Simon Scheider, Rogier Meerlo, Vedran Kasalica, Anna-Lena Lamprecht


In geographic information systems (GIS), analysts answer questions by designing workflows that transform a certain type of data into a certain type of goal. Semantic data types help constrain the application of computational methods to those that are meaningful for such a goal. This prevents pointless computations and helps analysts design effective workflows. Yet, to date it remains unclear which types would be needed in order to ease geo-analytical tasks. The data types and formats used in GIS still allow for huge amounts of syntactically possible but nonsensical method applications. Core concepts of spatial information and related geo-semantic distinctions have been proposed as abstractions to help analysts formulate analytic questions and to compute appropriate answers over geodata of different formats. In essence, core concepts reflect particular interpretations of data which imply that certain transformations are possible. However, core concepts usually remain implicit when operating on geodata, since a concept can be represented in a variety of forms. A central question therefore is: Which semantic types would be needed to capture this variety and its implications for geospatial analysis? In this article, we propose an ontology design pattern of core concept data types that help answer geo-analytical questions. Based on a scenario to compute a liveability atlas for Amsterdam, we show that diverse kinds of geo-analytical questions can be answered by this pattern in terms of valid, automatically constructible GIS workflows using standard sources.

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