The SInteliGIS project, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through project grant PTDC/EIA-EIA/109840/2009, proposes a research program in the area of geographic information management, particularly focusing on problems related to geographic information retrieval and to the processing of geospatial information encoded in textual documents. The main objective is to evolve the architectural details and the service specifications proposed by the ISO and the OGC, for instance by proposing new service specifications (e.g., services for data integration and for processing textual data according to geographic criteria) or by leveraging on non-GIS standards proposed by organizations such as the World Wide Web consortium (W3C).
Geographic data locates people, places and events, relating them to each other through distance or topology. Geographic data is ubiquitous and highly valued, supporting research and decision-making in many fields of science and engineering. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to solve geographic problems and to manage geographic data. These systems have been extensively used in various application domains, ranging from economical and demographic analysis to city and route planning. Conventional GIS were developed with basis on single-CPU architectures and single-user interfaces. Therefore, these systems could not effectively exploit a cyber-infrastructure such as the Web, which relies on a distributed architecture supported by relatively simple communication protocols. GIS are nowadays moving towards service-oriented architectures (SOA), which are based on loosely-coupled interacting software components made available as Web services (i.e., software components supporting interoperable machine-to-machine interactions over the Web). In the domain of geographic information, geographic Web Services can provide access to geographic data and expose basic processing functionalities. There are many types of geographic Web services, such as mapping services, spatial analysis services and metadata services. Organizations such as the International Standards Organization (ISO) or the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) are currently promoting standards to facilitate the interoperability between GIS, mostly through the use of the Web services technology. However, there are also many open issues in terms of the existing services for accessing and processing geographic data, as well as in terms of the information management and processing techniques that support these services. The SInteliGIS project proposes to advance the state-of-the-art in terms of the existing geographic Web services.
A pressing problem relates to the integration of information from heterogeneous sources, particularly when this information combines geospatial and temporal aspects, or when it is not geo-referenced in the traditional sense of using geospatial coordinates to points in the Earth´s surface (e.g., information that is geo-referenced through the use of place names or street addresses). More intelligent services are needed to address these problems, particularly services that are capable of interpreting the vague and ambiguous geographic information that is encoded in textual references to places. Geo-referencing textual information is a key bridge linking the traditional and the new -- a world in which street addresses serve as the primary location identifiers, and the modern world in which more precise representations are possible and needed to explore geographic patterns. The team behind SInteliGIS, though past projects such as GREASE/GREASE-II and DIGMAP, has a substantial background in geo-referencing text. SInteliGIS offers an opportunity to further develop this know-how, while also applying it to new contexts. Another important problem relates to the presentation of geo-referenced information through maps. The existing Web-GIS standards are fully-capable of handling cartographic maps, but using them to generate and present thematic maps (i.e., maps that display statistical information) remains a difficult task.
SInteliGIS proposes to research the above problems related to geographic information management. The main objective is to evolve the architectural details and the service specifications proposed by the ISO and the OGC, for instance by proposing new service specifications (e.g., services for data integration and for processing textual data according to geographic criteria) or by leveraging on non-GIS standards proposed by organizations such as the World Wide Web consortium (W3C).
The project also involves a collaboration with the Portuguese Geographic Institute (IGP) and with a private company specialized in GIS, namely NovaGeo Solutions. These partners will complement the expertise of the academic researchers involved in the project. We also expect for the project developments to be integrated into the services and products offered by the IGP and NovaGeo. Of particular interest to the IGP is the fact that the project is aligned with the INSPIRE European directive, which mandates that the IGP should develop a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) fully aligned with the standards used in a common European SDI. Topics under investigation include the mining of geographic contents from textual documents, the extension of OGC standards for the purpose of generating thematic maps, the usage of the XQuery language for processing geo-temporal data, or the usage of techniques from the area of geographic information retrieval for improving catalogue services and for developing new services capable of handling/integrating textual data. Several prototypes will be developed during the course of the project, which will be used in experiments for validating the proposed approaches. The prototypes will be made available as open-source software to facilitate the reuse and transfer to other projects.
- Period: 1-Jan-11 to 31-Dez-2012
- Proj #: PTDC/EIA-EIA/109840/2009
- Funding: €122010
The SInteliGIS project will span two years and is split into six separate tasks, which will be pursued in parallel during the entire course of the project. The general organization is as follows:
- Task 1, Project Coordination, lead by B. Martins (INESC-ID).
- Task 2, Catalogue Services, lead by J. Borbinha (INESC-ID).
- Task 3, Maps and Feature Services, lead by Ana Paula Afonso (FCUL).
- Task 4, Gazetteer and Geocoding Services, lead by B. Martins (INESC-ID).
- Task 5, Text Geo-Tagging Services, lead by B. Martins (INESC-ID).
- Task 6, Integration, Orchestration and Service Mashups, lead by B. Martins (INESC-ID).