You are here

Interoperability between coastal web atlases using semantic mediation: A case study of the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN)

TitleInteroperability between coastal web atlases using semantic mediation: A case study of the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN)
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2009
AuthorsWright, DJ, Lassoued, Y, Dwyer, N, Haddad, T, Bermudez, L, Dunne, D
Conference NameEos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 2009 Fall Meeting
Date Published14/12/2009
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA
Keywords[1936] INFORMATICS / Interoperability, [1958] INFORMATICS / Ontologies, [1970] INFORMATICS / Semantic web and semantic integration, [3099] MARINE GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS / General or miscellaneous.

Coastal mapping plays an important role in informing marine spatial planning, resource management, maritime safety, hazard assessment and even national sovereignty. As such, there is now a plethora of data/metadata catalogs, pre-made maps, tabular and text information on resource availability and exploitation, and decision-making tools. A recent trend has been to encapsulate these in a special class of web-enabled geographic information systems called a coastal web atlas (CWA). While multiple benefits are derived from tailor-made atlases, there is great value added from the integration of disparate CWAs. CWAs linked to one another can query more successfully to optimize planning and decision-making. If a dataset is missing in one atlas, it may be immediately located in another. Similar datasets in two atlases may be combined to enhance study in either region. But how best to achieve semantic interoperability to mitigate vague data queries, concepts or natural language semantics when retrieving and integrating data and information? We report on the development of a new prototype seeking to interoperate between two initial CWAs: the Marine Irish Digital Atlas (MIDA) and the Oregon Coastal Atlas (OCA). These two mature atlases are used as a testbed for more regional connections, with the intent for the OCA to use lessons learned to develop a regional network of CWAs along the west coast, and for MIDA to do the same in building and strengthening atlas networks with the UK, Belgium, and other parts of Europe. Our prototype uses semantic interoperability via services harmonization and ontology mediation, allowing local atlases to use their own data structures, and vocabularies (ontologies). We use standard technologies such as OGC Web Map Services (WMS) for delivering maps, and OGC Catalogue Service for the Web (CSW) for delivering and querying ISO-19139 metadata. The metadata records of a given CWA use a given ontology of terms called local ontology. Human or machine users formulate their requests using a common ontology of metadata terms, called global ontology. A CSW mediator rewrites the user’s request into CSW requests over local CSWs using their own (local) ontologies, collects the results and sends them back to the user. To extend the system, we have recently added global maritime boundaries and are also considering nearshore ocean observing system data. Ongoing work includes adding WFS, error management, and exception handling, enabling Smart Searches, and writing full documentation. This prototype is a central research project of the new International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN), a group of 30+ organizations from 14 nations (and growing) dedicated to seeking interoperability approaches to CWAs in support of coastal zone management and the translation of coastal science to coastal decision-making.