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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Geospatial Ontologies : Entity Labelling vs. Generic Feature Names

Y Ferland

Following enhancement of Cartography and Mapping capabilities and increasingly emergent needs of unconventional users, toponymic databases (gazetteers) are questioned. Traditional or official tabular lists of unique-entry place names with generic, specific, and coordinates appear now minimal and unsufficient to respond to requests for information about any place and its understandable representation on the map, in text, or on the Web (Semantic, 2.0). Before this century, the cartographic problem with toponyms was to get a readable labelling, such as name placement and orientation, typographic font, and linear extension over the identified feature. Since then, the toponymic problems on digital multi-layer maps have evolved to topologic location or extension (spatial coverage) of the named features or entities, to significative centering of both geometric entities and their names (local anchorage), and to systemic or hierarchical relationships between generic terms given or associated to specific places (geospatial structure). To address those aspects, interest grows to research, develop, and implement software ontologies of geospatial systems and phenomena, and not just the features but their comprehensive structure as expressed in both relevant sciences and natural languages. Difficulties are many for labelling entities and relationships in such ontologies of terms, geospatial concepts, and referent items, even more for translation.

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