OTE Project

Project Title   Ontology and Terminology for Earth Observation
Project Acronym   OTE
Contractor(s)   Epistematica


Image Context
       How it Works



In recent years a variety of big applications (e.g.: change detection, global monitoring, disaster management support, etc.) are investigating methods and tools for combining the information extracted from Earth Observation (EO) images with “auxiliary??? information (e.g.: in situ measures, geopolitical data, etc.) provided by other applications. Different sources can exist for these information types, which can overlap or be complementary. The sources can describe their offering with heterogeneous semantic terms, which can cause confusion (similar but not identical meaning), scaling and units conflicts (use of different reference systems) or naming conflicts (e.g.: due to homonyms and synonyms). In order to exploit at maximum the benefits of information extracted from EO, methods must be implemented to make it easily accessible, through semantic terms meaningful for different (also non-EO) user domains, and to homogenize it with auxiliary information.

A shared Ontology (a semantic representation of knowledge by means of a hierarchy of concepts and their relations) and Terminology (description of meaning of all terms used with synonyms and related words) are essential for the correct exchange of information:

  Image Between human beings (they are implicit in the knowledge acquired with the experience)
  Image Between computer programs (they have to be formalised and made explicit)

Ontology and Terminology can help within the EO domain, for easing the work among partners, and towards non-EO domains, in simplifying the identification of EO products relevant for specific applications.

In such a context, the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative will contribute to the implementation of a number of services supporting different applications in the field of environment and security. The services identified will be based on ground information and observation data received from Earth Observation satellites. In particular, the Ground Segment of the GMES Space Component (GSC) will address the set-up and operations of all ground segment infrastructure providing the required data streams through a distributed architecture and all necessary interfaces. To this aim, the Ground Segment infrastructure could take advantage from an ontology based system, capable of enlarging the use of EO missions through the semantic identification (also from non-EO domains) of relevant / useful EO resources and the provision of easy access to them.



The general purpose of the project is to explore the opportunities that the adoption of Semantic Technologies may offer to ESA's Earth Observation activity and Ground Segment infrastructure. Within the framework of ESA activities in the field and in line with related past and ongoing projects, the Ontology and Terminology for Earth Observation (OTE) project aims at:

  Image Enlarging and spreading the use of EO satellite data
  Image Identifying relevant / useful EO data for users belonging to different application domains (non-EO)
  Image Simplifying the interaction among partners in the context of Ground Segment infrastructures

These needs will be supported through the identification of the minimum number of concepts, relations and terms necessary to semantically describe relations among:

  Image EO Resources
  Image Non-EO domains and EO resources
  Image Ground Segment elements



The OTE project will provide a software prototype for easily accessing to defined Ontologies and Terminologies. In particular, the prototype will permit to access to two different Web Services:

  Image Terminology Search, performed into the defined terminology database (terms, synonyms and related terms)
  Image Ontology Navigation, performed into the defined taxonomy (concepts organized in a hierarchical structure)

The two Web Services will be accessed through a Client Application, provided via an Internet browser. The figure below shows the OTE prototype architecture:



Figure 1. Software prototype architecture

The Terminology Search will provide operations to:

  Image Search for terms that match provided words and belong to selected domains (e.g. Earth Observation, Ground Segment, etc.)
  Image Retrieve information on terms definition
  Image Retrieve information on Terminology / Ontology mapping, i.e. concepts associated to terms

The Ontology Navigation will provide operations to:

  Image Search for concepts that match provided words and navigate into the selected sub-tree
  Image Inspect a selected domain and retrieve related EO Products
  Image Retrieve the ontology structure


How it Works

A simple web based interface will allow users accessing search and navigation functionalities of the two Web Services described above. The application will permit non-EO experts to:

  Image Inspect and retrieve information about terms and concepts
  Image Easily identify and access relevant EO resources starting from their domain of interest or expertise and using terms familiar to them
  Image Simplify the interactions among the partners of the GMES Space Component (GSC) Ground Segment through the use of a shared ontology for ground segment components

In the following figure an example of the web application developed for accessing Ontologies and Terminologies is reported.


Figure 2. Example of Software Prototype web page.



In the context of the OTE project, Earth Observation and other application domains that could be interested into EO resources will be analysed, in order to produce the corresponding Ontologies and Terminologies. The final output of the work will consist of:

  Image Ontology and Terminology for:
  • Earth Observation domain
  • Other application domains where EO can contribute
  • Ground Segment of the GMES Space Component
  Image Mapping between application domains and EO resources (e.g.  Earth Observation Products managed by ESA)
  Image Software Prototype for searching and navigating developed Ontologies and Terminologies, in order to find EO Products useful for specific domains

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Page last modified on Wednesday 15 of December 2010 16:15:33 CET by .