Project description

Modelling of dynamic spatial phenomena, combining static / spatial representation and dynamic / temporal context, for support the monitoring, design and forecasting in spatial planning, using upper formal ontologies

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Research Project Objectives

The main objective of research is the methodology of modelling of the dynamic and multi-faceted phenomena in multi-disciplinary domain of spatial planning. Such complex issues need the special approach. What is needed is technology, providing holistic view of reality, that presents  spatial phenomena changing in time. As one of the solutions can be considered topological spatio-temporal representation. Another approach is to consider using upper formal ontologies. Ontologies, such as DOLCE, OCHRE, BFO, GFO i PROTON, implement formal systems, describing modal and temporal logic structures. These ontologies combine static / spatial representation of reality in the dynamic / temporal context, useful for describing changes of spatial issues. Such constructs could mutual complement themselves.

The essence of the research is to find a model of description of spatial objects (e.g. environmental objects, topographic objects, plots or zones) as objects changing in time. The spatial points of reference of the phenomena in planning, their mutual relations and the dynamics of transformations are essential in their description. Due to its relatively permanent identity, a spatial object in this context is called endurant (a continuant), i.e. a plot, building or planning zone. The carrying out process of transformation of a spatial object is also treated as an object – one that changes with time, i.e. a perdurant (an occurent).

Modelling methods as well as the models themselves constitute the aim of the research. Another issue is the possibilty of perform inference process. Both models and the processes of inference are useful in description and analysis of spatial problems, e.g. monitoring spatial transformations, supporting the process of planning and forecasting of their influence on the environment in the future.

Significance of the project

Aims of the project is relevant to the theoretical bases of the problems and methodology of land management, as well as spatial planning.

The Semantic Web approach appears to be the perfect solution, because the techniques proposed are based on the so-called “open world assumption”. This mean, such techniques take into account incompleteness and inaccuracy of data. It allows for an automatic use of data hidden in WWW. It makes possible working with incomplete information and finding data in distributed resources. The part of this technology is system of inference, performed by reasoning engines. Reasoners are used for finding new facts (classifications and relations) in data stored in semantic representation. Semantic data from numerous sources with different models could be integrated and mutually exchanged, and then processed together or transformed to new logical systems.

The opportunity to construct interdisciplinary databases is important to prepare complex ex-post and ex-ante analyses tools, as well as decision support systems for dynamic spatial data. It makes possible to represent and analyze multi-faceted relations between phenomena from various branches of spatial planning. It constitutes an advantage of the creation of a uniform modelling system based on the Semantic Web approach. The solutions could be employed in monitoring spatial phenomena, their description and interpretation, and in the process of planning of space transformations.

Research plan and basic concept

The research procedure includes the following sequence of actions:

  1. Identification of crucial issues for spatial management and planning in modelling of spatial changes processes,

  2. A review of available ontologies, in order to create a unified language of formal description of spatio-temporal phenomena: formal ontologies and domain-specific ontologies.

  3. Construction of domain-specific ontologies for particular dynamic spatial issues (in OWL).

  4. Transformation of spatial data imported from traditional GIS, in order to prepare the so-called set of facts (ABox), the representation of dynamic reality.

  5. Defining the analysis of spatial/temporal resources, using the mechanisms of inference (reasoning), to support the planning or administration decisions.

  6. Testing automated processing of semantic spatial data with temporal context and its evaluation.


This research work has been supported through the project granted by the National Science Centre, Poland - project number: UMO-2012/05/N/HS4/00642