Book Review: Creating Spatial Information Infrastructures: Towards


This book, Creating Spatial Infor mation Infrastructures: Towards the Spatial Semantic W eb, contains a collection of articles ar ound the theme of the semantic aspects of Spatial Infor mation Infrastructures (SIIs). SIIs ar e an extension to the mor e commonly ter med Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs), with the addition of the semantic aspects that turn data into information. The book has its origins in a Bentleysponsored research seminar with the same title held in London in 2007 and contains some articles based on pr esentations at that seminar , and some additionally invited articles. The book focuses on the issue of standardization of semantic representations of geospatial information, presenting this as the best approach to the problem of providing semantic interoperability between heterogeneous web services and data sets within an SII. The gr eatest emphasis is on developing standards to describe specif c geographic themes in terms of their concepts or feature types, which could then be adopted by a range of different users. Such standards would ideally be implemented as semantically-rich ontologies, but most of the examples in the book illustrate r elatively semantically-poor Unif ed Modelling Language (UML) diagrams to describe themes (GomezPerez et al., 2004). A number of the chapters provide examples of current SIIs (at various stages of development) or parts ther eof, usually written by the designers and developers of these initiatives and including summaries of: INSPIRE and the process being undertaken to develop that large, European-wide, multi-theme SDI (Chapter 1, Annoni et al.); the UKbased NERC Data Grid and the European GMES (Chapter 5, Woolf et al.) and the Danish SII (Chapter 11, Over gaard et al.). This last chapter is unusual compared to the rest of the book in that it dir ectly addresses the business and organizational aspects of SDI. A second group of chapters describes various standar dization efforts, including a historical summary of standar ds in the transportation f eld with a number of dif ferent UML diagrams that would be very useful for educational purposes (Chapter 4, Scarponcini); a cadastral (UML) data model developed in the Netherlands and pr oposed for ISO ratif cation (Chapter 9, Groothede et al.); a framework and set of standards to describe geospatial web services (Chapter 7, Lemmens) and a summary of W3C and OGC standar ds r elating to semantics (Chapter 8, Lieberman et al.). A chapter written by r esearchers from the UK Or dnance Survey (Chapter 6, Dolbear et al.) provides a useful bridge between semantics r esearch and its application in the r eal world, describing how Ordnance Survey uses semantics and ontologies for their business as a national mapping agency. Chapter 3 is a most useful chapter containing backgr ound summary information to support the rest of the book. It provides a very helpful tutorial in semantics and ontologies with an illustration building from the ground up. This would be ideal as a very simple and brief intr oduction to the f eld of geospatial semantics for students or managers. The other backgr ound summary chapter tackles the topic of metadata, brief y explaining the relevant standards (Chapter 10, Reuvers et al.). Another chapter that seems somewhat out of place relative to the rest of the book addresses geometry semantics, describing the characteristics and mathematics of various types of geometries, both moving and stationary, but also identifying how Computer Aided Drafting data might be integrated in a Geographic Information System. Overall, the book is an interesting collection of articles emphasising the more practical aspects of SDI over the academic or research aspects, although the latter ar e also cover ed in part. It favors the standardization approach to geospatial semantics. Such an appr oach requires infor mation communities to achieve consensus about the semantic description of a domain and expects others to adher e to that consensus view. The approach also uses structural models like UML and description logics (for example, OWL) to model semantics. This standar dization appr oach has practical benef ts and is easily understandable by practitioners following a wave of similar (lar gely ineffective) standar dization ef forts for data dictionaries and data models in the 1980s and 90s, but requires a precise, communal and inf exible def nition of semantics. The alternative approach to geospatial semantics involves attempting to represent semantics on a more individual level and in a mor e f exible way, using a wider range of techniques including logic (for example, Bennett et al., 2008; Stock,

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@inproceedings{Oosterom2009BookRC, title={Book Review: Creating Spatial Information Infrastructures: Towards}, author={Peter van Oosterom}, year={2009} }