Increasing our understanding of location


The time it takes for an ambulance arrives, the routes that police should patrol or the measures put in place during a national emergency all rely upon an understanding of location. This not only requires an understanding of geographical features like hills, buildings, roads and rivers, but also of information relating to a location at any point in time, such as road works, diversions, burst riverbanks and collapsed bridges. With this in mind, the UK Government have proposed a Location Strategy which seeks to maximise the value of geographic information by combining maps with information about locations.

A central aspect of the UK Government’s Location Strategy is the notion of linked data, which is a way of representing and joining data from a variety of sources to allow it to be accessed, browsed, searched and used as easily as one would browse the web. GeoTOD II contributed to the evolution of the UK’s Location Strategy by exploring ways of linking geographic information with location data. A lot of the required data is already available in existing databases (for example, in relational databases or files). GeoTOD II accessed this data and exposed it in a linked-data form. This will enable vast amounts of existing data to join the linked-data web, as promoted by Tim Berners-Lee.

The GeoTOD II system is based on OGSA-DAI, which allows data to be collected, transformed, combined and exposed in different formats. OGSA-DAI is an open-source framework for distributed data management, and was a key output of the UK e-Science community. The Software Sustainability Institute worked with GeoTOD II in the design and development of their system. We contributed our expertise in OGSA-DAI and in software design and development. We met regularly with the GeoTOD II team to review design decisions, help with OGSA-DAI and resolve issues with their system as it evolves.

Visit the GeoTOD-II SourceForge project and linked data server (if the server is down then please contact the GeoTOD II team - contact details are on their SourceForge site)