Web Services and geospatial interoperability

Interoperability of geospatial data has become an important international research topic. The issues related to interoperability can be seen from technology or dataset point of view. The technology issues include encoding standards, schemas applied in data transfer, and network service interfaces. In data content level the semantic interoperability is crucial. This includes aspects like thematic classification, level of spatial resolution, and coordinate reference systems. To ensure interoperability between disparate systems, data transformations are needed – both on technology and semantic level. During the research period FGI will actively participate into the technology level work of ISO and Open Geospatial Consortium. In the semantic interoperability research the FGI will take part in the activities of AGILE, EuroGeographics and EuroSRD. The national implementation of the INSPIRE initiative poses a significant challenge for the interoperability work. The FGI will support this work in the framework of the National Strategy for GI, developed by the Finnish Council for GI.

Recently ontology research has provided a formal approach for improving the semantic interoperability (ontology = concepts related to topic area, together with the relations between them). In this context the interoperability can been seen from different perspectives. In semantic webs the main goal is to enhance the meaning of the data content by using agreed ontologies, supporting more intelligent information search and retrieval. Whereas semantic webs still represent relatively loose inter-coupling, transfer and translation of data between two systems requires use of more formal approaches. The research at FGI first focuses on this application area, using the tools of generic ontology research as a starting point.

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