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Geospatial Semantics and the Semantic Web: Foundations, Algorithms, and Applications (Semantic Web and Beyond)

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The availability of geographic and geo-spatial information and services, especially on the openWeb, has become abundant in the last several yearswith the proliferation of online maps, geo-coding services, geospatial Web services and geospatially enabled applications. Concurrently, the need for geo-spatial reasoning has significantly increased in many everyday applications ranging from personal digital assistants, to Web search applications and local aware mobile services, to specialized systems in critical applications such as emergency response, medical triaging, and intelligence analysis to name a few. In response to the required “intelligent” information processing capabilities, the field of Geospatial Semantics has emerged as an exciting new discipline in the recent years. Broadly speaking geospatial semantics can be defined as the area that focuses on the semantics aspect in geographic and geo-spatial information processing i.e., where we can provide “meaning” to and intelligence in such information systems. This new area brings together researchers from many different disciplines such as geographic and geo-spatial information science, artificial intelligence – in particular the Semantic Web, and information systems. Alternate descriptions of what geospatial semantics is about can be stated as being the sub-area of geographic or geospatial information systems that deals with knowledge driven or intelligent processing techniques, or the particular domain application of semantics technologies that deal with the geographic and geospatial domain.Work in this area was initiated just a few years ago by visionary researchers who foresaw the need for expanding erstwhile individual disciplines such as GIS or the Semantic Web. Despite being a nascent field by age, we have seen a prolific amount of activity in all arenas, be it basic research, technical product development, community efforts such as developing standards, or the realization of real-world applications powered by such technologies.

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