Integration of spatial planning and environmental data

Modeling and integration of spatial planning and environmental data using semantic web technologies

Two-year project funded by the National Science Centre intended for pre-doctoral researchers (UMO-2011/03/N/HS4/03819)


Integrating spatial plans with other resources and their broader use requires unifying their structure. Attempts to develop standards for spatial plans in Poland have been undertaken for many years with no satisfactory results. This has been directly caused by the complex structure of the spatial plan which contains spatial reference as well as descriptive textual information (the legal act). Currently, procedural and organizational conditions do not allow for integrating planning data with other types, e.g. environmental data. This is mainly due to the lack of standards and difficulties in transforming plans to a common, unified model.

As an interdisciplinary field, spatial planning uses diverse information originating from various distributed sources. The knowledge of the surrounding natural environment is of high significance in terms of optimizing spatial planning and defining the economic potential of the environment. In the course of analyses attempting to define the influence of the proposals on the environment information of different kinds and representations is used, some of it being unstructured. Integrating and analyzing data on this level is the most challenging and time consuming stage. The authors of the project attempt to assess the possibility of integrating spatial data and acquiring new knowledge through employing the ontological data representation. Aspects related with publishing and searching for information, but most notably inferring new facts basing on existing heterogeneous data from various sources, are all considered.


The aim of the project is to indicate new possibilities in integration of spatial planning and environmental information collected from distributed sources. The project concerns the problems of ontological models for data and knowledge representation. Processes of inferring new facts and relations based on acquired knowledge will be researched. Semantic web technologies including description logic-based ontologies (OWL-DL), thesauri (SKOS) and rule-based languages (SWRL) will be used as tools for building models to analyze data.

The solutions proposed by the authors constitute a novel approach in the area of spatial planning and natural environment knowledge representation.

The outcome of the project will be ontology for spatial development plans and selected elements of the natural environment, as well methods for their integration using semantic web technologies.

Research plan

  1. Analysis of standards and formal languages in thie field of ontology modeling
  2. Defining the domain of discourse – selection of objects from the spatial planning and natural environment domains to be used to build domain knowledge bases
  3. Development of a thesaurus in SKOS for spatial planning domain
  4. Analysis and choice of ontology modeling methods
  5. Development of ontologies for the chosen objects from the spatial planning and natural environment domains
  6. Analysis of ontology alignment methods
  7. Data acquisition and building knowledge bases
  8. Verification and modification of the knowledge bases – experiments in data integration and inference