Development of a semantic network for environmental geodata
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Sustainability in the Information Society
The more information and data2 are produced in the actual information society, the more important become mechanisms and systems which organize data and include information where to find which data. Most popular peculiarities of such information systems are digital archives, metadata3 information systems (MIS) and catalogue systems (CS). These systems are used as preparatory step/tool for any other domain-specific applications such as site planning projects. Recent initiatives —both on national and international basis- in the area of spatial libraries and environmental MIS/CS provide access to a wealth of distributed data, e.g. necessary data in the context of site planning. On the other hand they offer only basic levels of interactivity and assistance to the user. This includes all steps of the information retrieval process: Query formulation, query modification, comparison of (metadata) result sets and search result presentation. Referring to this lack of usability, there are special action lines and topics in the actual EU ISTprogramme, e.g. key action III.4.2 information visualization which aims to facilitate information access, data handling and navigation in (often unfamiliar) information spaces. Based on that situation this paper describes the establishment of a semantic network for geodata as part of the project "Development of the InGeoForum Information Center" which represents a theme-overlapping metadata information system for geodata on national basis and enables public access to environmental information and networks. Here, different information visualization techniques are used to facilitate the information retrieval process and access to heterogeneous geodata. Thus both municipal authorities and planners as operative groups in the site planning process are supported. Further on these techniques enable the participation and involvement of interested citizens. Chapter 1 exemplarily proposes the site planning process as one environmental application area and indicates the necessity of metadata information systems, semantic networks and information visualization techniques as instruments to locate appropriate geodata and to interact with it using graphic-interactive concepts. Chapter 2 presents a state-ofthe-art analysis of existing approaches concerning information visualization and metadata information systems. Chapter 3 introduces new methods and concepts for the establishment of a semantic network for geodata and describes the integration of these concepts into the InGeo Information Center. Finally some useful hints show possibilities for further research as well as further integration and transmission possibilities into other environmental/geodata application domains.