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Why Semantic Technology Will Have an Impact on Geographic Data July 1, 2011

Posted by davevankampen in Summer 2011 1st Session.
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    Critical Components of Semantic Technology

The critical components of semantic technology are all in the meta-data. The content is all already out there, on sites like Wikipedia and other large data sources, or sources of data mining. However, it is all mostly structured in human-readable ways. Semantic technology is about adding the information around the human information to make it portable and readable for machines. This is called meta-data, and it is what structures like RDF and OWL are based on. These frameworks are used to create a structure of relationships easily parsable and transferrable between machines, so they can communicate meaning without the need for human intervention.

    One application of Semantic Technology

One possible excellent application for Semantic Technology is geographic information. This is used by many different industries, including agriculture (farmers in fields), aviation (airplanes navigating around the world), military (tactical movements), and many others. There are tons of different groups collecting gigabytes of information about the world we are in, almost all of which would be useful to the other groups collecting very similar information. However, there is very little standardization (besides GPS data formats).

Due to this, I believe that this realm is prime for the incorporation of Semantic Technology. Much like the Ordnance Survey group (linked here) groups all over the world are collecting geographic information. If this was put in a central location that all groups could use, a redundancy of effort could be removed, and we could collectively develop a much more accurate and detailed picture of the world in which we all live.

There are, of course, barriers to this, and security concerns. Naturally, military operations would generally not be traced or saved, and some countries would not like much information about their geography shared. However, overall, I think this is a excellent use for Semantic Technology, and will definitely grow in the years to come.

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