Observational data encodes values of properties associated with a feature of interest, estimated by a specified procedure. For water the properties are physical parameters like level, volume, flow and pressure, and concentrations and counts of chemicals, substances and organisms. Water property vocabularies have been assembled at project, agency and jurisdictional level. Organizations such as EPA, USGS, CEH, GA and BoM maintain vocabularies for internal use, and may make them available externally as text files. BODC and MMI have harvested many water vocabularies alongside others of interest in their domain, formalized the content using SKOS, and published them through web interfaces. Scope is highly variable both within and between vocabularies. Individual items may conflate multiple concerns (e.g. property, instrument, statistical procedure, units). There is significant duplication between vocabularies. Semantic web technologies provide the opportunity both to publish vocabularies more effectively, and achieve harmonization to support greater interoperability between datasets. - Models for vocabulary items (property, substance/taxon, process, unit-of-measure, etc) may be formalized OWL ontologies, supporting semantic relations between items in related vocabularies; - By specializing the ontology elements from SKOS concepts and properties, diverse vocabularies may be published through a common interface; - Properties from standard vocabularies (e.g. OWL, SKOS, PROV-O and VAEM) support mappings between vocabularies having a similar scope - Existing items from various sources may be assembled into new virtual vocabularies However, there are a number of challenges: - use of standard properties such as sameAs/exactMatch/equivalentClass require reasoning support; - items have been conceptualised as both classes and individuals, complicating the mapping mechanics; - re-use of items across vocabularies may conflict with expectations concerning URI patterns; - versioning complicates cross-references and re-use. This presentation will discuss ways to harness semantic web technologies to publish harmonized vocabularies, and will summarise how many of the challenges may be addressed.
Cox, Simon J.D.; Yu, Jonathan; and Simons, Bruce A., "Harmonization Of Vocabularies For Water Data" (2014). CUNY Academic Works.